Monday, August 21, 2017

West Point and Arnold at Boscobel

After the traditional Murray Biggs lecture, YWAA alumni and guests watched The General from America under the tent at Boscobel. (HSVF, YWAA photos)
YWAA returned to Boscobel in Garrison, Aug. 20, in its annual outing with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.  The line-up was familiar.  YWAA invited Westchester alumni, families and friends for a Sunday affair that included a glowing performance under the tent along the Hudson River shoreline, a pre-performance lecture from Yale drama professor Murray Biggs, and a picnic on Boscobel's lush, scenic grounds.

Shakespeare, however, wasn't on the docket this year.  HVSF's 2017 summer schedule squeezed in a performance of The General from America, Richard Nelson's account of Benedict Arnold's defection to the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Penny Metropulos, affiliated with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directed the play.

For more than 15 summers, Biggs has launched the day with an exuberant lecture about the evening's performance.  The Shakespeare expert this year detoured beyond Shakespeare and provided insights on how the audience should observe a performance about a notorious traitor.  The play, written in the 21st century, features a central character, a general in the U.S. Army, who spends much of the show agonizing over criminal charges from the U.S. side and rationalizing a decision to defect--until he finally crosses over.

Benedict Arnold (played by Chris Thorn, who has otherwise performed in many Shakespeare productions Off-Broadway) limps across the Boscobel stage, fusses with his sister, and barks at his wife.

He debates George Washington (played by long-time HSVF actor Kurt Rhoads) and arranges a meeting at West Point with British Major John Andre--with the hills and greenery of the real West Point looming in the background.

The hushed, dark background of the real Hudson River becomes the setting for the 18th-century fateful meeting between Andre and Arnold--despite the occasional commuter train roaring faintly every 20 minutes or so.

Earlier that day, Biggs lectured to over 40 YWAA guests, refreshing them on the old history lesson and hinting at Davis' humanized portrayal of Arnold. 

Rich Fabbro '76 and Dan Leonard '77 helped organize the day's events, carrying on a YWAA tradition led for many years by Merrell Clark '57 and Bruce Jennings '71.
YWAA's Sunday at Boscobel always includes a picnic on the grounds and moments to absorb the Hudson River scenery. (YWAA photos)





Saturday, August 19, 2017

Foundation Will Honor Favretti

New York's Sousa Mendes Foundation will honor Maggie Favretti '85 (above) for organizing Westchester students to support international refugees.
Maggie Favretti '85, a history teacher at Scarsdale High School and leader of the school's community garden, will be honored by the Sousa Mendes Foundation for spearheading efforts in Westchester County to organize students to support refugees.

Founded in 2010, the Mendes Foundation honors Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a diplomat from Portugal, who when stationed in France in World War II assisted in providing visas for thousands of refugees fleeing the Nazi regime. He did so against the wishes of the Portuguese government.     Favretti will receive the honor at a scheduled program later this year at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

For the past several years, Favretti has also coordinated the Yale Day of Service program in Scarsdale, where Yale alumni and friends prepare the garden on the school's grounds for spring planting. The community garden produces over 1,500 pounds of food (from about 7,500 sq. ft. of garden space), the bulk of which is supplied to area food shelters.

Favretti has also been recognized by the White House for her gardening programs, including assisting other communities in the area in starting their own gardens.

The Mendes Foundation is citing her for encouraging students at Scarsdale High School to start an organization, Students for Refugees, to support refugees and inform Westchester residents about the plight of refugees around the world, including those from Syria.

She and Scarsdale students were inspired to launch the organization when they visited Germany on a school cultural trip in 2015. On the trip, they met with refugees and resettlement organizations and decided to organize when they returned to Scarsdale.

Over time, the Scarsdale group expanded the initiative to other Westchester schools.  Today, there are at least 10 Students for Refugees (SFR) chapters at Westchester high schools. They convene to learn more about refugee families and assist in local and international efforts to resettle refugees into other countries, including the U.S.

The Scarsdale chapter held a forum in April to discuss why refugees flee and how they resettle in foreign countries. It hosted a Westchester schools conference in May. The Scarsdale and other school chapters have arranged to work with other Westchester and Connecticut settlement organizations, including the Westchester Refugee Task Force.

Other current projects have included a fund-raising effort for Syrian refugees and public events to educate the community about refugees.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

YWAA at Boscobel, Aug. 20

Yale drama expert Murray Biggs returns to lecture to the YWAA group before the Boscobel performance The General From America, Aug. 20.
YWAA, including Yale alumni, family and friends, will return to Boscobel in Garrison for its annual outing of drama on the shores of the Hudson in Garrison, Sunday Aug. 20.

This year, there is a another kind of twist.  Shakespeare, whose plays at Boscobel are offered with twists, turns, innovation, edge, and creativity, won't be the headliner performance.  At the Yale gathering, which includes the pre-performance lecture and picnic, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival will perform The General From America, Richard Nelson's portrayal of Benedict Arnold. 

Murray Biggs, the Yale expert in Shakespeare, will still join the day and provide insights at his annual lecture before the evening stage lights turn on.  He will speak to the YWAA group and highlight for guests' benefit what they should look for and remind them why they will be entertained and perhaps inspired.

Biggs' lecture starts at 3:45 pm at the Hastings Center in Garrison. The Yale group will have an on-your-own picnic on the sensational Hudson shoreline at 6 pm. The play will begin at 7:30 pm. 

The production will be special, if only because the Boscobel setting and Hudson River background are the actual historical settings of the show's plot.  Benedict Arnold, as most know, fought for the American Army during the Revolutionary War and became a commander at West Point. In 1780, he fled to the British side and became an officer of the British Army--just a short distance from the big white tent at Boscobel that will feature a 2017 performance about him.

The play is directed by Penny Metropulous, who told the HVSF, "I'm always interested in anything that makes me study harder, and it seems like a good time to brush up on American history."

Metropulous, who has worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for over 20 seasons, has directed Shakespeare plays including Henry IV, The Comedy of Errors and As You Like It. She has also directed productions in Chicago, Denver, Portland and Berkeley, Calif. 

Biggs has been a YWAA fixture at Boscobel for years and attracts a popular following, who enjoy his pointing out plot directions and character flaws in the way they don't recall from their days in a Yale English course years ago.

In recent years, YWAA on the Hudson during summer has watched All's Well That Ends Well, MacBeth, Othello, The Winter's Tale, Hamlet, and Love's Labour Lost.

YWAA treasurer Rich Fabbro '76 is organizing the day's activities. Ticket details will follow.

Bruce Jennings '71, former YWAA president, joins Murray Biggs after a pre-performance lecture at the Hastings Center (above).

Before the performance, YWAA guests and friends will have a chance to lounge on the grounds for a picnic and absorb the summer surroundings along the Hudson River.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sitting Atop the Ivy League

Pound Ridge's Griffen Dey '19 (top) gets the celebration started after Yale defeated Penn to win the Ivy League baseball championship (Yale Athletics photos)
Capping one of its best Ivy campaigns in its history, Yale baseball swept two games from Penn, May 16, to capture the Ivy League title and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs, now 30-16, beat the Quakers in a double-header at home in a best-of-three series that determined the Ivy champion.

When the final out was secured in the second game, Yale Westchester players joined other teammates to celebrate in a pile-up on the mound.

In the first game, with Yale shutting out its opponent, 5-0, Rye's Tim DeGraw '19 had a sacrifice fly and scored a run and Pound Ridge's duo Griffin Dey '19 and Richard Slenker '17 had base hits.

In the second game, DeGraw had one of his best collegiate games with three hits (including a double and home run), four RBI, and two runs scored.  Slenker, likely playing in his last  game at Yale Field as a senior, had two hits. Dey scored a run and pitched the final inning.

Yale won't know its NCAA-tournament foe until pairings are announced May 29.  The Bulldogs return to the tournament for the first time in 24 years. As a four-year starter and this year's captain, who is on pace to graduate from Yale next week, Slenker is finishing his Yale career with a batting average of .330 with over 185 hits.

Day of Service, 2017

A faithful group of Yale volunteers continued the tradition of spending Yale Day of Service, May 13, at the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor (YWAA photos)
It might be hard to keep an accurate count.  Yale Day of Service and YWAA returned to the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, May 13, for the--who's counting--seventh year in a row, as one of the primary volunteer sites in Westchester.

All across the country and in some parts of the world, Yale alumni celebrated community service by spending a day volunteering in may ways with much Yale flavor and adorned in Yale t-shirts, caps and jackets.

In Briarcliff Manor, YWAA board member Susan Kaminsky '86 coordinated the group of volunteers. Once again, they spent an afternoon (this time a cloudy, rainy affair) helping out at the animal shelter. The shelter's primary goal is to rescue animals and put them in caring homes.

The Yale group, including alumni, families and friends, spent Day of Service cleaning the shelter, making dog treats, and organizing the supply room. The Yale group makes a difference not just one day, but year after year after year.

Yale Day of Service plans activities for one day in May.  But one Westchester site, the Scarsdale community garden under the guidance of Maggie Favretti '85, will host Yale volunteers, Saturday, May 20, also a long-running Day of Service event.

Above, Jennie and Emma Nolon (top, L) assist at the shelter. Carole Johannsen (top, R) cuddles with a kitten.  Heather Hewett shows off an extra-large SPCA t-shirt, and Sonali, Mira and Ritika Arora prepare dog treats. (YWAA photos)

Above, Brook Butterworth (top, L) assists in the office. Day of Service volunteers included Beatrice and Camille Korschun and Maxine and GG Zaretsky (top, M) and Kate and Emily Kasoff (R). Ben Browning and Carole Johannsen (bottom, L) were also at the site May 13. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Westchester's Diamond Quartet

Tim DeGraw '19 and Richard Slenker '17 (above) have helped Yale to the top of the Ivy League in baseball this spring.  They are two of four Westchester athletes on the team (Yale Athletics photos)
The worst of winter has eased its way out of 2017 and spring-like days have begun to tease New England--signs that Yale baseball can take a prominent stage on its old diamond in West Haven.  With annual road trips to the South (to the states of New Mexico, Virginia and South Carolina this year) out of the way, the team is already in the last chapter of the season. Sporting a 16-13 record, it has the best conference record in the Ivy League (7-1) and heads to Harvard for a three-game series this weekend.

Yale is a contender for the Ivy title, and outstanding contributions from a quartet of Westchester athletes are one reason. The foursome were on the squad last year, but three of them were first-year players, happy to gain playing time while learning the ways of Ivy athletics with Ivy academic burdens. 

In 2017, the freshmen are mainstay sophomores, playing (and pitching) regularly, bashing home rooms, smacking lead-off singles, banging out doubles and complementing the steady, consistent play of their senior teammate, Richard Slenker '17, a former Westchester-Putnam player of the year who is capping off his own productive career as the Yale captain. 

The sophomores are Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, a fleet outfielder with speed, who starred in football at Rye High School; Griffen Dey '19, a first-baseman and pitcher from Pound Ridge who has already hit seven home runs in 2017, and Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, lefty relief pitcher who led his high school team to a state championship.

Few Yale teams in recent years have had as many Westchester representatives as baseball the past several years. Consider that a coincidence, but attribute that also to outstanding coaching and competition at high schools in the county, despite the perennial disadvantages of weather in March and April in the New York area. (The high school season doesn't bloom until mid-April when the school calendar starts to wind down. And many games are postponed because of all forms of inclement weather.)

The Westchester quartet also played in prep programs that have impressive records in grooming collegians. Nambiar's Mamaroneck can boast of alums who have played in college World Series and for big-league teams.  Dey has seven teammates from his Kennedy Catholic squad who are now playing in college. DeGraw has two teammates from Rye playing in the Ivy League.

This spring in support of Yale's bid for an Ivy championship, DeGraw is hitting .308 with 14 stolen bases and already has 13 multi-hit games. Pound Ridge's Slenker, who has accumulated a pile of League and team awards as a virtual mainstay in the Yale infield for four years, has a career batting average of .326. He will likely wind up his time at Yale with over 175 career hits and 100 career RBI's.

Nambiar earned a relief save in the Bulldogs' recent 6-3 win against Columbia. Dey started the season on a torrid long-ball pace with three home runs in the first four games.  As a pitcher, he earned wins over Cornell and Columbia.

After returning from Harvard, the Bulldogs will finish the season in late April with three-game series against Dartmouth and Brown. The Ivy League baseball championship follows.

(L-R) Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17, Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, and Pound Ridge's Griffen Dey '19. Below, Slenker, DeGraw and Dey show their batting forms in Ivy games against Columbia and Penn.  (Yale Athletics Photos)




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Yale Book Awards, 2017

This spring, YWAA will continue a tradition of recognizing top high-school students in Westchester with its annual book awards (YWAA photos).
This year between April and June, YWAA will present Yale Book Awards to 51 juniors at Westchester high schools. A Westchester annual tradition, the book awards recognize top students at these schools for "outstanding personal character and intellectual promise."

Once again, the award this year includes The Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Yale Law School's Fred Shapiro, a tote bag and book plate with the student's name. YWAA board member Peter Santhanam '85 Ph.D. administers the program.  YWAA board members and other alumni distribute books to the schools.  At some schools, Westchester alums will present the awards at an honors assembly and highlight the accomplishments of winners.

Each school selects a Yale Book Award recipient based on criteria provided by YWAA. The program is not associated with Yale admissions, although many recipients in past years choose to apply to Yale and some have attended.  For some students, the award introduces them to Yale. YWAA's long-time goal has been to recognize exceptional achievement in Westchester schools.

Participating schools cover the full cross-section of public and private schools in Westchester from Yorktown to Yonkers, from Tarrytown to Port Chester.  Lincoln High School in Yonkers, for example, will be a new participant in 2016. 

The program is supported by YWAA and alumni donations.

Click YBA for more about the awards in past years.



Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedman Explains His Top Ten

In Scarsdale, Mar. 30, Yale professor Paul Freedman, author of "Ten Restaurants That Changed America," described how he came up with his list. (YWAA photos)
 Yale history professor Paul Freedman's new book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, has spawned lively discussion among food circles around the country.  What restaurants made the list? What restaurants didn't?  How did he select the top ten? What were the criteria? And how does a history professor in New Haven, an expert in medieval studies, carve out time to write about the history of eating habits in this country over the past century and a half?

Freedman, a guest lecturer at the Scarsdale Library, Mar. 30, as part of the YWAA speaker series, explained his favorite hobby to an audience of about 100 Yale alumni, friends and Westchester residents.  The book, he reminded all, "is not about the best restaurants," but about those that had the most influence on where Americans eat out, why they choose to do so, and what they eat when they venture beyond home dining. 

His list includes familiar names (Delmonico's in Downtown Manhattan, the recently closed Four Season in Midtown, Antoine's in New Orleans, and Sylvia's in Harlem).  It contains puzzling selections, until Freedman explained carefully (in his book and in Scarsdale) why they must be included:  Schrafft's of New York lore, national chain Howard Johnson's, and Mama Leone's, the lone Italian restaurant on his list. 

Critics have praised the book and applauded his diligence and research. He approached culinary history in the manner of, yes, a medieval historian by studying archives, examining tattered menus, roaming the country, interviewing food experts, and analyzing original sources. Freedman presents a story of Americans deciding at some point in history to indulge in eating by simply going outside the home. 

Freedman observes the "amalgam" of ethnic cuisines, thanks to immigrants from all global corners or thanks to African-Americans migrating to the North and bringing southern recipes and tastes with them (Sylvia's, e.g.).  The panoply of ethnic cuisines in America, he showed, has been around longer than we know. In Scarsdale, he showed a New Yorker cover from 1938 with a cartoon drawing of several ethnic-restaurant settings (Chinese, Middle East, Italian, French, etc.).

He said Delmonico's, where menus in the mid-19th century included Maryland turtles as a high-end offering, was likely America's first restaurant that was a "gastronomical destination." It was America's first high-end French restaurant without being a real French restaurant.  Howard Johnson's, he said, makes the list because it's the first restaurant where the menu and cuisine were the same at every Ho-Jo site. Howard Johnson's offered Americans familiarity and consistency. 

Freedman described New York's Schrafft's as a destination for "respectable New York women," who would often order a rich banana split after sampling a light green salad, where his grandmother frequented, but his own mother avoided.  With Schrafft's, he discussed the possibility of women having unique eating preferences or the likelihood that women of long ago chose foods differently when not accompanied by men. 

He highlighted the cozy, low-back seating arrangements at the Four Seasons, a purposeful design to ensure faithful (and famous) followers could see and be seen. 

Freedman's list is about history and influence and not a forecast of trends and fads. No restaurant in the book was founded after the 1970's.  Mama Leone's has closed.  The Four Seasons will reappear in varying (and uncertain?) incarnations. Schrafft's disappeared in the Reagan era, and Howard Johnson's is but a tiny shell of its once expansive self. 

His Scarsdale audience rushed to follow his presentation with questions or their own observations about food history, habits and trends.  

Freedman noted his list resulted in no Mexican or Japanese restaurants.  There were also no steak or barbecue places.  He said the French Laundry in Napa Valley might have been no. 11 or 12 on the list, if he were permitted to extend the list.  

Audience members asked why the 21 Club in Midtown and Windows of the World in the old World Trade Center were not considered (for influence, if not cuisine).  He said "21 was mostly about atmosphere and networking," where the Four Seasons had already established a foothold. The 21 Club, he added, was the among first to get away with selling a very expensive hamburger. Windows of the World, he remembered, was a "style pioneer with good wine."  

Others asked his impressions about commonplace eateries in hospitals, airports and museums.  (He suggested a museum restaurant in Chicago was a favorite.) Others solicited his views of favorite New York deli haunts, such as Carnegie Deli and Katz's Deli.  "Katz's is celebrated," Freedman said, "like Strand Bookstore (in Greenwich Village), the last book store standing."

Someone asked why certain restaurant types have never gained popularity in the U.S. Hungarian restaurants and food, he replied, have an "undeserved image of heaviness."  Philippine restaurants have been "a hard sell," while Indian restaurants thrive, but are frequently run by immigrants from Bangladesh. 

Freedman, identifying a Yale tie at a mostly Yale event, noted Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame (and included in his top 10) sent her daughter to Yale and helped revolutionize how Yale Dining cultivates ingredients and prepares food in the residential colleges.  

And Danny Meyer, best known these days for igniting the hamburger sensation that is Shake Shack, also a Yale parent, wrote the introduction to the book. 
In Scarsdale, audience members wanted to know about restaurants that didn't make the list, about current trends in eating, and about why certain cuisines are more popular than others. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day of Service in Westchester, 2017


The SPCA of Briarcliff Manor (above, 2013 Day of Service) has been a popular site for Yale volunteers for several years (YWAA photo)
The Yale Day of Service, May, 2017, line-up is now complete. 

Yale alumni, family members and other volunteers can review planned activities around the world, as Yale's springtime tradition continues in helping communities on a Saturday afternoon in May.  Yale Day of Service activities are planned from Boston to the Bay Area and from Mexico to Singapore. And in Westchester.

The Westchester sites are listed below. Many are familiar to Yale alumni who have volunteered in the past. Westchester Day of Service once again have sites at the food gardens in Scarsdale and at the animal shelter in Briarcliff Manor. But always there are new sites, as well as a range of activities in surrounding areas (New York City and Connecticut).  Most activities are scheduled for May 13. Some sites are set for other days in May.

Click Yale Day of Service-New York/Westchester to review the line-up, decide where you want to help or contribute, and register online.

Click Westchester DoS to review highlights of Westchester alumni organizing, coordinating, and volunteering at Yale Day of Service in the past few years.

Scarsdale GardenMaggie Favretti '85, a faculty member at Scarsdale High School, has acted as site leader for several years and leads the community garden on the grounds of the school. The garden grows food for local food pantries and has been cited nationally for its contributions in teaching and encouraging the values of community gardening. Annually during Yale Day of Service, volunteers help prepare the garden for the spring and summer. (Sat., May 20)

Briarcliff Manor SPCA Center:  Susan Kaminsky '86, YWAA board member, will coordinate activities at the animal shelter in Briarcliff Manor.  The shelter has been a popular, favorite Day of Service site for several years.  Volunteers will clean the shelter and do some planting on its grounds and are encouraged to donate cleaning supplies, treats and toys. (Sat., May 13)

White Plains Bread of Life:  Sherri Falco will lead activities on behalf of Bread of Life, a non-profit organization in White Plains that provides food to those in need in Westchester.  On Day of Service, Yale volunteers will assist at Open Arms, a shelter that will sponsor dinner downtown for homeless men in the area.  (Sat., May 13)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Yale's Freedman in Scarsdale, Mar. 30

As part of YWAA's lecture series, Yale professor Paul Freedman, author of a new book on the history of impactful restaurants, will speak at the Scarsdale Library, Thursday, Mar. 30.  Delmonico's (above) made the Top Ten list.
The YWAA lecture series resumes Thursday, Mar. 30, in Scarsdale, when Yale history professor Paul Freeman will discuss his new book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America.

Yale alumni, guests, and those interested in Freedman's explanations for why certain restaurants made or didn't make special list are invited to attend. There is no admission fee. The Scarsdale Library will host the event (which starts at 7 pm). Copies of the book will also be on sale.

Freedman is the Chester E. Tripp Professor of History at Yale and the Chair of the History of Science and Medicine Program. Event guests won't need to wait until Mar. 30 to learn what restaurants earned a spot on his well-researched list. (See below)

The book, published earlier this year, has been praised by book reviewers and food critics around the country:

"(This) is a book as much about the contradictions and contrasts in this country, as it is about its places to eat," wrote Jane Kramer in the New Yorker.

Joe Yonan of the Washington Post said, "(Freedman) effectively makes the case that the story of America's restaurants is one of changing immigration patterns, race relations, gender and family roles, work obligations, and leisure habits."

"(Freedman) suggests that it's not ultimately restaurants that change America. It's the people in the kitchen," Victorini Matus at the Wall Street Journal wrote.

"Culinary historians, those besotted with food culture, and curious general readers will all find something of value in this well-researched, entertaining social and cultural history," Kirkus Reviews summarized.

Fabio Parasecoli, Director of Food Studies at the New School, said, "Freedman's engrossing and well-researched exploration of the restaurant as an American institution presents us with a gallery of unforgettable characters, iconic dishes, and unique place."

Author Fredrick Kaufman called Freedman "one of the world's most learned food writers."  Harvard professor Joyce Chaplin said the book is "exactly what the very best American food has always been." Food writer Molly O'Neill said Freedman's book is "the most important and entertaining book on the subject of food...in years."

Rich Fabbro '76, YWAA board member, who leads the lecture series, organized the event.

Delmonico's, New York
Antoine's, New Orleans
Schrafft's
Mamma Leone's, New York
Howard Johnson's
Le Pavillon, New York
Sylvia's, New York
The Four Seasons, New York
The Mandarin, San Francisco
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Calif.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Yale Baskeball Joins Ivy Madness

Yale and Harvard met for the third time this season at the Palestra in the Ivy tournament. The Bulldogs triumphed, 73-71. (YWAA photos)
There were lots of smiles and expressions of glee at the old Palestra in Philadelphia, home to this year's inaugural Ivy League basketball tournament Mar. 11-12.  There were also electricity and festivity.

Thousands jammed the historic setting; perhaps 6,500 or more were in attendance.  It was a weekend basketball convention decorated in crimson, orange, red, brown, black, and Yale blue. The Ivy League conducted an experiment, a six-game extravaganza to determine the league's men's and women's representatives in the NCAA tournament.  And Yale got to participate.

In the third of a quartet of games from Saturday morning into the night, Yale's men's basketball team faced off against Harvard in the semi-finals.  Scattered about Penn's ancient arena were Bulldog and Crimson followers, screaming out their lungs as if this were a football game.  Late in the game Yale's Miye Oni '20 scrambled through the lane, vaulted to the rim, and dunked the ball with such force that most in the stands might have forgotten this was not an NBA game. This was Ivy League basketball, circa 2017. Yale students near by danced, slapped fives and panned for the ESPN television cameras.

Harvard didn't give up, however.  It, too, had a talented first-year player (Bryce Aiken), who was in his own "zone," tossing in three-point baskets at will. Yale defenders struggled to keep up with the small, swift guard, who slapped the floor and teased his Yale foes.  Aiken finished with 28 points; Yale's Oni had 18. But he and his teammates held on to beat Harvard, 73-71.

When the horn sounded, a throng of Yale students on the baseline rushed the floor before Palestra officials pushed them back into the stands, unaware of (or indifferent to) Yale-Harvard traditions of celebrating their wins over each other in pompous ways. 

Yale had a Sunday noon start against Princeton for the Ivy championship and a chance to repeat last year's memorable appearance in the NCCA tournament.  Tigers and Bulldogs fought closely for a half until Princeton pulled away and won, 71-59.

Princeton heads to the tournament (to play Notre Dame). Yale heads back to New Haven, confident it will reappear at next year's tournament wherever they decide to hold it.

After Princeton defeated Penn, Yale and Harvard took the floor at the Palestra. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sidra Bell at the Yale Club, Mar. 15

At Yale, Sidra Bell '01 studied history before deciding on a career in dance.

Greenburgh native Sidra Bell '01, the choreographer who leads her own New York dance company Sidra Bell Dance, will speak on dance innovation at the Yale Club of New York, Wednesday, Mar. 5 at 6:30 pm. Yale alumni, guests, and those interested in the arts and dance are invited to attend. 

A New York Times reviewer once referred to one of her group's performances as "slick, in-your-face intensity."  A Washington Post critic described her choreography as "creepy and comical."  

Bell will discuss her work after a short reception.  At Yale, a resident of Saybrook College, she majored in history before earning an MFA degree from Purchase College. Her dance company has performed around the country and abroad (in Greece, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Germany, among other countries). 

In 2015, she was honored by ArtsWestchester as one of the top 50 artists who work in or are from Westchester. 

"It's not about the steps," she once told an interviewer. "It's the ideas behind the steps."


Sidra Bell '01 will speak on dance innovation and contemporary dance at the Yale Club of New York, Mar. 15

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ivy Tourney: Philly-Bound

In its cathedral home at Payne Whitney in New Haven in Feb., Yale basketball hosted (and defeated) Dartmouth (above). (YWAA photo)
The road to Philadelphia was topsy-turvy for Yale's men's basketball team in 2016-17.  In the end, it finished in the top four among the eight Ivy League teams and, therefore, qualified for the Ivy League's first-ever basketball tournament.

This isn't an experiment. It's the real deal.  The winner will advance to the men's basketball NCAA tournament, March Madness, circa 2017.

Recall last year's basketball euphoria at Yale.  Yale won the Ivy League title and proceeded to shock the basketball world with a stunning Friday-afternoon upset over Baylor in Providence.  At least for two days, basketball aficionados and bracket fanatics had discovered they do play the game in New Haven.  It was Yale's first tournament win ever.  Two days later, the Bulldogs pushed Duke to the final minute until it lost its second-round match.

This year's team is smaller, but features swift guard play and lots of newcomers with freshmen and sophomores on the floor most of the time. The roster doesn't include a Westchester athlete and is sprinkled with players from California to Carolina. (Rhodes Scholar and top rebounder Matt Townsend '15 of Chappaqua was the last Westchester player on the team.) During its 17-10 regular season, there were big wins (like Washington of the Pac-12) followed by unexpected losses, but enough conference wins to get to the Palestra, where the tournament will be held.

To win the Ivy championship, it will likely have to beat Big Three rivals:  Harvard (Mar. 11) and Princeton (Mar. 12).  Possible? Yes. Likely?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Salovey Will Speak in Greenwich, Mar. 7

Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.d. will speak in Greenwich, Mar. 7
Yale Westchester alumni and guests are invited to join a discussion with Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.d. at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Tuesday, Mar. 7 at 6:30 pm. The event will be hosted by the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich. 

Guests will attend a reception before Salovey's remarks and have an opportunity to view the works of Alfred Sisley, the French impressionist master of the 19th century.

Salovey, who will speak from 7:30-8:30 pm, will provide updates on campus activities and initiatives. Yale alumni can submit questions and topics for Salovey to address when they register for the event.

As most alumni know, the pulse of Yale seldom sits still. In New Haven, Yale prepares for the opening of two new residential colleges (Franklin and Murray) and next month will admit the largest freshman class in its history (the Class of '21). 

Calhoun College will be renamed Hopper College in the wake of a special committee's presentation of guidelines for renaming campus structures.  Commons in the center of campus prepares to close for renovations as it transforms into a new student center, the Schwarzman Center. Yale sports will have a representative in the Ivy League's first-ever basketball tournament in Philadelphia early March. And many are raving about the opening of spacious, new facilities at the School of Music.

Salovey also spoke to Yale alumni in Greenwich just days after he was inaugurated as president in Oct., 2013.  His talk was entitled "A More Unified Yale."

Participants must purchase tickets ($50) to attend the event. Click YALE-GREENWICH to register. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Feb Club Comes to Sleepy Hollow

Feb Club Emeritus has 2017 stopovers in Dubai, Mumbai, Tokyo, Denver, Boston, Cincinnati, Rome, and finally in Westchester's Sleepy Hollow Feb. 28. (Feb Club Emeritus photos)

Got the post-holiday, winter-in-Westchester, pre-spring-break blues?  Waiting for the days to get longer, the sun to shine brighter and the opportunity to go outside without layers of wool?  Spring is still a month or so away.

Yale's alumni tradition, Feb Club Emeritus, once again offers its solution to fight off the blahs, gather with other Yale alumni and celebrate nothing more than the company of others who experienced Yale and can swap stories about Old Campus, Mory's, Science Hill, and Sterling Library. Feb Club Emeritus schedules at least one Yale event somewhere around the world every single day of the month.

Feb Club Emeritus has already launched its 2017 series of Yale parties and gatherings here and abroad.  Feb Club Westchester will reconvene for the third straight year.  Krista Madsen '95 and the Class of '95 will host a Feb Club Emeritus event Tuesday, Feb. 28 (7:30-10 pm) in Sleepy Hollow at the Red Zebra restaurant (31 Beekman Ave.), a new Italian eatery featuring pastas, Italian wines, and micro beers. The Class of '95 will provide appetizers, and guests will purchase their own drinks.  All Yale alumni (from any class) and their guests are invited. 

Feb Club events have already occurred in Denver, New York, Washington, and Cincinnati and abroad in Manila, Mumbai, Tokyo, Australia and Singapore.  The flurry of Yale celebrations will be capped off on the last day with an event in Geneva, Switzerland, and, of course, the Class of '95's party in Sleepy Hollow.  For fun, friendship, and for Yale.

Red, Hot & Blue at the Osborn


Yale's a cappella group Red, Hot, & Blue (above, top and middle) performed and sang favorites at a concert at the Osborn in Rye, Feb. 10.  Princeton's Roaring 20 (above, bottom) joined the Yale singers. Bill Nightingale '55, YWAA board member, organized the event, along with Princeton Westchester president Martin Sklar. Nightingale was also emcee.

The Yale group, which bills itself as Yale's oldest co-ed a cappella group, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this spring.  It plans a tour in Puerto Rico during spring break and will spend the summer in France. Its repertoire includes such classics as "Summertime," "Fever," "Fly Me to the Moon," and "'Round Midnight."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Yale Day of Service Set for May 13

In past years, Yale alumni in Westchester have volunteered eagerly at several sites for Yale Day of Service, including (above) those in Cross River, Scarsdale and Briarcliff Manor.
Yale Day of Service, Yale's special day for alumni around the world to participate in an event of community service, is set for Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Alumni, family members and Yale friends will be invited to select an event in the region to donate time, a spring Saturday, and volunteer to clean up, spruce up, clear up, or help in any way at shelters, parks, gardens, and community centers.

Sites in the Westchester and neighboring regions will be announced soon.  Yale volunteers will then register online to participate wherever they choose to be.  In Westchester in previous years, sites have included the animal shelter in Briarcliff Manor, a community garden in Scarsdale, a middle school in Mount Vernon, and the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation state park in Cross River.

Click Westchester-DoS to read about sites and projects Westchester alumni have led in the past four years.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Freedman Presents His Top Ten

Yale Professor Paul Freedman will discuss his new book at a talk in Scarsdale, Mar. 30
Yale Professor Paul Freedman's "day job" is his role as professor of medieval history.  At Yale, where he has taught for 20 years, he has also served as chair of the history department and director of undergraduate studies in history.

His special interest or favorite passion is the history of cuisine and trends in eating out.  Last year after exhaustive review, the New York native and current Pelham resident set out to identify the 10 most influential restaurants in American history, restaurants that set standards or trends and changed eating habits outside the home. 

The outcome?  He finished a new book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, published by Liveright/Norton this past fall and much discussed and talked about, if not debated.

Freedman will speak to Yale alumni and guests in Scarsdale at the Scarsdale Public Library Thursday, Mar. 30 at 7 pm.  He will explain why some restaurants made the list and why some didn't. Copies of the new book will be available for sale. Many of the restaurants are no longer in existence, but that doesn't diminish their importance in the history of Americans eating out.

Freedman's talk is part of the YWAA lecture series that brings Yale professors to Westchester to discuss their subjects, current projects or latest work.  In recent years, the series has featured professors in astrophysics, history and law. 

Readers of his book don't have to churn hundreds of pages to find out his Top Ten.  The list appears on the cover (and below).

In New Haven, an increasingly important hub for interesting, diverse cuisine (and everybody's hot spot for the best in pizza), Freedman told the New York Times that his favorite pizza place there is Zuppardi's Apizza (actually located in West Haven).

Delmonico's, New York
Antoine's, New Orleans
Schrafft's
Mamma Leone's, New York
Howard Johnson's
Le Pavillon, New York
Sylvia's, New York
The Four Seasons, New York
The Mandarin, San Francisco
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Calif.


Red, Hot & Blue in Rye, Feb. 10


Red, Hot, & Blue, the a capella group from Yale, comes to Westchester on the evening of Friday, Feb. 10 for a concert at the Osborne in Rye. 

The group, Yale's oldest group featuring men and women, will be joined by a group from Princeton. It sang (with the Princeton Roaring 20) at a concert in Rye in Dec., 2015.

The 2017 concert details will follow.  YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53 is organizing the event. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

YWAA Highlights, 2016

The annual Westchester Debate featuring Yale and Princeton capped off YWAA's eventful 2016 (YWAA photos).

Applaud the students, staff members, parents and area high-school students at Ardsley in November. The auditorium was filled to the back rows, and the cheers were lively, spirited, as college and high-school debaters jousted, at least verbally, on a Friday night in Westchester.

The event was the annual Westchester Debate Competition, featuring Yale vs. Princeton, and it capped another eventful year for YWAA.  As Westchester tradition requires, co-organizer Bill Nightingale '53 welcomed guests, tossed in a few Nightingale one-liners, and encouraged participants to give their best shots.  Richard Bradley '86 moderated, while co-organizer Susan Kaminsky '86 made sure the event started on time and proceeded swiftly.

It turned out to be one of the best-attended debates in years, and Ardsley and other schools jumped at the opportunity to volunteer to be hosts for Debate, 2017.

Unfortunate for Yale alumni in Westchester, Princeton won the college round, halting Yale's two-year streak.  Horace Greeley won the high-school nightcap.

Besides the debate, YWAA's year included a calendar filled with events, speakers and service. Westchester athletes excelled on fields, turf, and courts--in baseball, swimming, squash, and soccer. Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway '95 Ph.D. tore himself away from New Haven duties to come to Rye Brook to describe a campus in the midst of heavy dialogue about free speech and about names that adorn residential colleges.

At the start of 2016, Westchester again participated in that unique Yale-alumni affair, Feb Club, where alumni gather around the world for revelry, song and no other reason than to spice up the dreary weeks of winter.  Krista Madsen '95 hosted Feb Club-Westchester in Tarrytown for the second straight year.

In April, Grant Herreid, artistic director of the Baroque Opera Project at Yale, returned to Westchester with his musicians to perform music from the 17th and 18th centuries at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye. Suzanne Clary '83 is the president of the trustee board at the Center, which has hosted other concerts and lectures with YWAA in the past.

Claudia Rosenthal '08 '14MMus, the rapidly rising opera star from Edgemont now in residence at the Pittsburgh Opera, was a winner of the George London Foundation prize that recognizes young singers from America and Canada. Later in the year, she performed a rare feat in Pittsburgh by singing two roles at once, when a featured performer got sick on the same day. "I got this," she said she told herself before the performance.

Alumni College, AYA's program that arranges for Yale professors to teach seminars for alumni, came to Rye in April and held classes in psychology and the introduction to C.G. Jung, taught by alumnus Kendrick Morris '77MDiv.

After 54 years of  knowing nothing about the euphoria of March Madness, Yale men's basketball shocked the NCAA world by defeating Baylor in the first round of the national tournament. Two days later, it scared the wits out of mighty Duke in Providence in a game where Yale became national darlings--at least for one Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Yale men's squash nudged its way to win a national championship on its home court.  Pierson Broadwater '18 of Bronxville was among the Yale participants that defeated Rochester, 5-4, for Yale's first national title in the sport in 26 years.

Dean Holloway, who in late 2016 announced his departure from Yale to become Northwestern's provost, spoke to Westchester and Greenwich alumni in March in Rye Brook.  He knew he couldn't avoid alumni questions about campus demonstrations, but asserted he wanted them to learn more about students' involvement in a new program he and others launched:  The Yale Civic Leadership Initiative, which helps students become better leaders in the community.

The Yale baseball team, including its quartet of Westchester stalwarts, ventured to Texas for three games to play Texas A&M in March. While in College Station, that grand ol' Yale captain from the 1940's, George H. W. Bush '48, appeared one day, spoke to the team and threw out of the first pitch.  It didn't matter that the Aggies beat Yale in all three games.  

Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17, in his third season, was one of the team's best hitters durng the season.   He was No. 1 or 2 in hits, doubles, RBI's and batting average.  In three years, he has a .316 career average.

In swimming, Scarsdale native Brian Hogan '16 was his team's captain and earned two All-Ivy honors, a first-team distinction for academics and a second-team honor for performance. 

In April, YWAA, along with admissions committee and Yale ASC, hosted the annual Bronxville reception for Westchester admitted students. It was a day of celebration, as parents and admitted students rejoiced and shared stories about the long trek to gain admissions at Yale.  Current Yale students on a panel boasted about their respective residential colleges and argued passionately that with a Yale admission congratulatory e-mail, there is no choice, but Yale.

If it's May, then it's Yale Day of Service (now in its eighth year).   YWAA leaders organized several sites where Yale alumni and friends volunteered for a weekend in the community. YWAA hosted sites in Rye, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, and Kingston, and volunteers cleaned up gardens and parks, painted old ships, and prepared fun bags for children.

One of Yale's most popular professors in the law school, Akhil Reed Amar '80 '84JD, is arguably the country's best expert on the U.S. Constitution. YWAA invited him to lecture in Scarsdale in May, as part its regular series of bringing esteemed Yale faculty to Westchester to speak to alumni. 

This time Amar leaped at the opportunity to talk about the Constitution and the recent presidential election.  One alumnus said the night was like "a really good Yale lecture that had students hanging out after class for more questions and arguments."

The YWAA evening at Boscobel, year after year, is an annual highlight.  In August, Yale alumni and guests gathered for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's performance of MacBeth. YWAA board members Rich Fabbro '76 and Dan Leonard '76 organized the event.  Yale Shakespeare expert Murray Biggs provided insight and guidance for alumni at his annual lecture before the performance.

But this performance was different. It featured an all-women cast, and MacBeth was played by Yale alumna Maria Christina-Oliveras '01, who was once a student in a Biggs class at Yale.   She exhibited many talents--pantomiming violent scenes, singing when the script called for it, and expressing rage to the top of her lungs.

YWAA once again sponsored the annual Yale Book Award, honoring dozens of high-school juniors in the area for scholarship, achievement and service.  It sponsored again the Summer Fellowship Program. Yale student Claire Chang of Pleasantville was this year's recipient and worked this summer at the Sitka Local Foods Network in Alaska. 

Yale and Princeton debaters at Debate Night in Ardsley confronted a difficult topic in economics and politics.  Sophie Park '19 and Scarsdale's Michael Bogarty '19 represented Yale. The collegians  dissected the topic of free trade and international tariffs, and audience members spurred the clash, which was quite civil, polite compared to the year's Trump-Clinton showdowns. Judges reasoned Princeton should win this year.

At The Game in Boston in November, admit it.  Most fans expected another dreary outcome in Yale's match-up with Harvard.  The Bulldogs dragged themselves into Harvard Stadium with a losing record and sights on ending the dismal season quickly. But after a surprise onsides kick to start the second half, the Yale team and Yale crowd collectively turned heads and figured, "We can win this Game after all."  And triumph the Bulldogs did with freshman quarterback Kurt Rawlings leading the way.

Yale's 142nd football team featured no player from Westchester. But when the swarm of thousands of Yale students and alumni flooded the floor of Harvard Stadium, it surely included dozens of Westchester students and young alumni. For the past 10 years, Yale followers had to watch Harvard fans storm the field and dance on the turf. In 2016, it was Blue's time to prance in joy and taunt, "School on Monday!" (Harvard had school that Monday.)

May the spirit of the holiday season and hopes for the new year lift all Yalies here and everywhere.

Yale had a party on Harvard's stadium floor after beating the Crimson in November, 21-14 (YWAA photos).

At Boscobel in August, MacBeth was played by Yale alumna Maria Christina-Oliveras '01 (YWAA photos).
Yale professor Akhil Amar '80 '84JD lectured about the Constitution and the presidential election in Scarsdale in May (YWAA photos)
A panel of Yale students greeted the admitted students of Yale's Class of '20 at the Bronxville reception in May (YWAA photos).
Yale baseball, including four Westchester residents on the roster, visited Texas A&M in the spring and got the chance to meet Yale baseball captain George H.W. Bush '48 (Yale Athletics photos)