Friday, July 19, 2019

Cyrano at Boscobel, Aug. 25

YWAA will host its annual Boscobel event, Aug. 25, featuring Cyrano, directed by Jason O'Connell. 
As part of its annual outing at Boscobel and featuring productions of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, YWAA will host alumni, family and friends for performance at Cyrano, Sunday, Aug. 25 (7:30 pm) in Garrison.

Yale lecturer Murray Biggs once again will open the events of the day with a pre-performance lecture at 3:30 pm. YWAA guests will then have a chance to have a picnic on the grounds of Boscobel before joining the public to watch actors of the HVSF group present Cyrano.

To purchase tickets for the event and join the affairs of the day, click Boscobel Tickets.  YWAA board member Rich Fabbro '76 is organizing the day's events.

In most years, the YWAA Sunday event often showcases a Shakespearean play.  Last year the Festival performed Richard II.  In 2016, the performers presented a female actress Maria Christina-Oliveras '91, a Yale alumna, in the male role Macbeth. Other "Yale Day at Boscobel" performances in the past included The Winter's Tale, Hamlet, and Othello.

A Yale expert on Shakespeare, Biggs, in his Boscobel lectures, offers insights, special tips, clues, and color before the Yale group watches the evening performance.

This year the August Yale gathering won't see a Shakespeare production. The actor, Jason O'Connell, who will play the part of Cyrano in this year's Cyrano, co-wrote the drama with Brenda Withers.  Meredith McDonough is its director.

Cyrano is O'Connell's loose interpretation of the life and fancies of Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, the 17th century French novelist and playwright. The play chronicles Cyrano's crush, love letters and love interests in Roxanne even as France prepares for war with Spain.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Westchester Players Drafted

Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19 concluded his Yale career with complete-game shutouts against Princeton and Dartmouth (Yale Athletics photos, Twitter)
Griffin Dey '19 and Kumar Nambiar '19, two Westchester standouts who went on to have successful careers for Yale baseball, were drafted by major league teams in early June. Dey, a Pound Ridge native and graduate of Kennedy Catholic, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 23rd round. Numbiar, a left-handed pitcher who starred at Mamaroneck High School, was picked by the Oakland A's in the 34th round.

Yale's Scott Politz '19 and Simon Whiteman '19 were also drafted by major league teams, marking the largest number of players drafted from a single team in one season in Yale history. Despite the talent on the team, the Bulldogs finished with a losing record (18-23) after having won Ivy titles the past two years and winning two games in the 2017 NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs concluded 2019 with four straight wins in games against Dartmouth and Princeton.

Nambiar concluded his four-year Yale career with complete-game shutouts against Dartmouth and Princeton and earned first-team All-Ivy status. While at Yale, he won 13 total games and struck out 162 batters (115 in his junior and senior years).

At Mamaroneck High School, Nambiar helped his 2015 squad to a state championship with a 10-0 record on the mound. He was also New York State Player of the Year for the AA classification that year.

In 2019, Dey batted .362 and drove in 44 runs to go along with 11 home runs. In mid-June, he was named to the Northeast All-Region team for the second year in a row.

Dey's 29 career home runs in four years rank second on the all-time Yale list. He finished his career in college with 126 RBI's and a .287 batting average. At Kennedy Catholic, he was rated the top first baseman in the state in his senior year.

The Westchester duo were joined on the team by Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, a mainstay in the outfield at Yale the past four seasons. DeGraw, who also starred in football at Rye High School, batted .285 in his Yale career, stole 53 bases and amassed 185 hits. He was named to the All-Ivy team as a junior.

Griffin Dey '19 of Pound Ridge hit 29 home runs while at Yale the past four seasons, a total that puts him second on the all-time Yale list (Yale Athletics photos)

Monday, June 3, 2019

Reunion Season, 2019

If it's late May, early June at Yale, it's reunion season in New Haven. Flocks of alumni return to campus, sometimes to check on the state of Yale, sometimes to relive what occurred decades ago. Often to pretend to be 21 again.

In 2019, it was the year of reunions for the Nines and Fours, classes from 1954 (and before!) to 2014. Classmates flooded New Haven in two successive weekends and took over residential colleges, where Yale Alumni Association (yes, what many still refer to as "AYA") officials helped arranged non-stop activity, which now includes seminars, TED talks, and open houses at cultural houses. Old Whiffenpoofs reunite to croon to cheerful audiences at Woolsey. Old Yale Daily News editors ponder the state of journalism. Bright College Years (with waving white handkerchiefs) is sung throughout the weekend in tents and in dining halls.

During reunions and after graduation, the campus is often polished, clean, and well-decorated with flower beds and blue-and-white alumni signage.  While traditional reunion spot Commons is under reconstruction, alumni have new buildings to check out--including the two new residential colleges Franklin and Pauli Murray up Science Hill and the new home for the School of Management.

For just a few hours on a spring weekend (where weather in New Haven finally cooperated this year), alumni forget it's 2019 and feel like 21 again.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Repeat Falls Short

Ted Forst '19 (no. 43 above) starred at Bronxville High School before competing for Yale lacrosse the past four years. (Yale Athletics photos)
After winning the men's NCAA lacrosse championship last year, Yale attempted a repeat in 2019 and knew all season it would be everybody's target:  Beat the champions, who just so happened to have come from the Ivy League.

The Bulldogs scrounged and hustled their way back into the tournament this season even without winning the Ivy championship. (Penn took the Ivy title this season.)  During the tournament, the team unleashed a massive offensive assault, scoring the highest number of goals in tournament history.  It punched out Georgetown, Penn and Penn State before gaining a spot in the nationally televised championship game against Virginia.

The year 2019 might be the year of the Cavalier (this year's men's basketball champion). In men's lacrosse, Virginia gained control of the championship meeting in Philadelphia on Memorial Day and beat the Elis, 13-9. Yale finished the season 17-3, second in the nation.

This year's squad featured Westchester native Ted Forst '19, a regular midfielder who played in 13 games in 2019 and finished his career with six goals scored and five assists. Two of those goals came in a win against Harvard last season. (His brother Brendan played at Harvard lacrosse this season.)

He also received Yale awards for the most improved player and for character and spirit in 2018. At Bronxville High, where he was president of the study body as a senior, he helped his team win the 2014 state championship.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Scarsdale's Nicholas Takes Ivy Golf Title

A month before he graduates from Yale, James Nicholas '19 of Scarsdale won the Ivy League men's golf championship. (Yale Athletics photo)

James Nicholas '19, who at Scarsdale High School excelled in so many sports that he couldn't at first decide what to play when he was admitted to Yale, won the Ivy League men's golf championship in April.  At the tournament in New Jersey, he shot a 215 (two over par) in three rounds.  Yale, as a team, finished third, as Princeton captured the team trophy.

Nicholas, besides being named All-Ivy, was named the league's player of the year for the second straight year and will have a chance to compete in the individual NCAA championship. Yale coach Colin Sheehan '97, in his 11th season, was named Ivy Coach of the Year. 

At Scarsdale High, Nicholas starred in football, golf and hockey. He was good enough in football to be recruited by Yale and even played in his first year on campus. He wasn't recruited to play ice hockey, but has found time to play in club sports in New Haven. 

In golf, he found his place, captained the 2018-19 team and has ranked among the Ivy leaders all four years. When not in New Haven, he has also performed as one of the best golfers at tournaments in Westchester County. 

In high school, he won the New York state golf championship in 2015. He was an All-State honoree as a receiver and defensive back in football for the Red Raiders. In hockey, he scored 100 goals in his junior and senior years, also earning All-State honors. 

Next month he expects to receive his Yale degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Yale Basketball: Back to the Dance

While hosting the third Ivy League tournament, Yale captured the men's basketball championship in New Haven with a handy win over Harvard (YWAA photos).

Yale men's basketball reached an apex Sunday afternoon Mar. 17, as the college basketball season heads toward March Madness. Yale hosted the third annual Ivy League tournament at the John L. Lee Amphitheatre at Payne Whitney Gym, treating house guests and League fanatics to a weekend basketball festival in an arena that looks more church-like than athletic venue. (The tournament included the top four teams in both the men's and women's leagues.)

While basking in host glory, the men's team grabbed the tournament trophy and an Ivy berth in the 2019 NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs surrendered leads to Princeton during the Saturday semi-final, but managed to squeak out an 83-77 win.  After Harvard's 66-58 win over last year's tourney winner Penn, Yale and Harvard faced off for the Ivy championship in front of a mostly jammed Payne Whitney. 

Sunday's championship was the third meeting between the rivals.  Harvard had won the previous two, most recently with a buzzer-beater from guard Bryce Aiken on Yale's home floor. 

In the third game, the Bulldogs and Cantabs traded leads--thanks to stop-and-pop jumpers from Yale's Alex Copeland '19 and thanks to Harvard's Aiken scoring just about anytime he wanted to and ending the game with 38 points.  

Yale eased ahead late in the game and coasted to a 97-85 win--thanks mostly to Copeland's 25 points and thanks to four off-the-bench jumpers from Azar Swain '21 (who finished with 15). Yale fans didn't storm the court, because, well, students were still getting back to New Haven from spring break.  Yale's Miye Oni '20, the Ivy League's men's player of the year and the focus of whispers about his NBA-level talent, had spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble

So for the second time in four seasons, Coach James Jones and crew head to the Dance, the Final 64. Four hours after the win, the team found out it will play SEC power LSU in Jacksonville in the Round of 64.  

Yale athletic officials embraced their roles as hosts. Payne Whitney was spruced up with banners celebrating the Ivy schools. Attendants urged out-of-town guests to taste the best of New Haven.  

During intermissions at the tournament, the League paid tribute to Yale players John L. Lee '59 '59 Eng and Barbara Liebowitz Bettigole '78, both one-time Westchester residents, and welcomed them into the club of Ivy legends.  

Harvard's band toots the Crimson as the team defeated Penn in the first round. (YWAA photos)

During an intermission of the Yale-Princeton game, the League paid tribute to one-time Yale scoring leader and Larchmont resident John L. Lee '58 '59 Eng. His no. 22 jersey above appears in a trophy case at Payne Whitney. His family accepted a plaque in his honor. (YWAA photo) 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Santos Offers Happiness Tips

Yale professor Laurie Santos offered ten tips for happiness at her lecture in Chappaqua, Mar. 8 (YWAA photos)
Laurie Santos, Yale's professor of psychology whose Yale "Happiness" course has spawned national (and even global) attention, came to Westchester Mar. 7 to offer area alumni and other guests 10 tips for achieving a state of happiness.

Addressing a crowd of about 150 at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center, Santos summarized her semester-long course into an hour-long presentation. The lecture was part of the YWAA lecture series, coordinated by YWAA board member Rich Fabbro '76. The Chappaqua Library was also a co-sponsor of the event.

The "Happiness" course is more formally called "Psychology and the Good Life." In Chappaqua, Santos explained its origin and her expectations that it would draw only 40-50 students.  Last year, by the time Yale's course-shopping period was over, the course had attracted over 1,200 Yale students, so large that the venue had to be moved to Woolsey Hall. Media outlines from around the world (including The New York Times) found out about the course, all curious about why large numbers of students on elite campuses struggle with happiness and feeling good about themselves.

Santos in Chappaqua explained the state of mental health on campuses like Yale, especially as students struggle with lofty goals and limited amounts of time to accomplish what they put on their already-crammed agenda.  She described how she has observed students as Head of Silliman College. She designed the course, gained approval to present it and prescribed simple tasks on the syllabus for students during the semester ("Send out thank-you notes to special people").

After the widespread attention, Santos and Yale now offer the course online via Coursera ("The Science of Well-Being"). She said over 200,000 "learners" have participated from dozens of countries around the world.

At the Westchester lecture to a throng of rapt listeners older than her students, Santos offered ten tips to happiness.  They included the obvious and the less than obvious. The obvious, she suggested, include getting more sleep (about 7.4 hours/night), exercising more regularly, and meditating. As a professor would do, she provided research to substantiate her tips. She lectured how people can control their efforts to achieve happiness.

The less-than-obvious included spending more money for the benefit of others (and not ourselves) and expressing gratitude to others in writing and in person. Write thank-you notes, she recommended, deliver them and read them in person--a requirement she asked of her students. She recommended people avoid "mind wandering." Stay in the moment, and focus on your current self, she advised.

Tip number 2 on her list? "Our life circumstances don't matter as much as we think."  "You can become happier, but it takes work and daily effort" was her Tip number 3.

In the wake of such popularity and because of demand, Santos is planning a happiness podcast and heads to California soon to continue to spread her tips at another Yale-related event.

YWAA and the Chappaqua Library hosted a reception in her honor after the lecture.

YWAA board member Rich Fabbro, coordinator of the lecture series, introduced Santos to the Chappaqua audience (YWAA photos)
As Head of Yale's Silliman College, Santos observed student practices and habits in their daily lives. (YWAA photos)

Santos said she initially expected only 40-50 students to join a course that eventually enrolled over 1,000 Yale students (YWAA photos)

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Yale Book Awards, 2019

Between now and June, YWAA will present Yale Book Awards to over 50 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." 

Over the past several years, the award has been 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 president Tim Mattison '73 administers the program. Other YWAA board members are involved in presenting the book awards at Westchester high schools. 

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.

The program is supported by YWAA and alumni donations. (For more information and to consider a donation to the program, contact YWAA at For more about the program, go to YWAA Book Award.

Click 2018 to see the list of winners from last year.  Winners in 2018 included honorees from such schools as Alexander Hamilton in Elmsford, Early College High School in Yonkers, the Masters School, and Palisade Prep. Click 2017 to see the list of winners from that year.

Click on the following to read YWAA blog posts about the program in previous years:


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Save the Day: Day of Service, May 11

Yale Day of Service, 2019, will be held May 11 at over 250 sites in 20 countries, including in Westchester. (YWAA photo)

Save the date:  Saturday, May 11, around the world and in the Westchester area.

Celebrating a 10th anniversary, Yale Day of Service returns for another year. Yale alumni and guest volunteers have an opportunity to serve their communities by spending a day doing community work. In recent years, over 3,000 alumni at over 250 sites in about 20 countries have participated.

Service sites will be announced soon.  Yale Westchester alumni have regularly hosted sites at animal shelters, community gardens, local schools, and state parks.

Click YDoS for more about the 2019 program. Click YWAA-Day of Service for more about Westchester and YWAA activities over the past few years.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Santos Lecture in Chappaqua, Mar. 7

Yale professor Laurie Santos will deliver the "happiness" lecture to Yale alumni and guests in Chappaqua Thursday, Mar. 7 (Yale photos)
Laurie Santos, the Yale professor of psychology, who teaches the most popular course on campus, the course that describes and analyzes states of happiness and humans' quest to achieve them, will deliver a lecture on the topic to Yale alumni and guests in Chappaqua at the Performing Arts Center Thursday, Mar. 7 pm. The public is invited to attend the free event (at 480 Bedford Rd.).

YWAA is co-sponsoring the event with the Chappaqua Library and the town of New Castle. Rich Fabbro '76 , YWAA board member, leads the lecture series.

The event is part of the YWAA lecture series that brings prominent Yale professors to Westchester to address topics within their disciplines or to speak about other pressing issues of the moment. In recent years, YWAA has invited Yale professors of astronomy, history, law, English, political science and drama.

Last year screenwriting professor Marc Lapadula explained his list of the 10 most important films in American history.  In 2017, history professor Paul Freedman had just written a favorably reviewed book Ten Restaurants That Changed America and spoke in Scarsdale about how he came up with his list.

At Yale, Santos teaches "Psychology and the Good Life," the course that last year drew 1,200 students--not online, but in person on campus.  (She has taught the same, however, as an online offering to the public.) The course (also called "The Science of Well-Being") has drawn wide attention, including last year in the New York Times.

Santos, who also acts as head of Silliman College at Yale, is not teaching the course this semester, but will present highlights of the course at the Chappaqua lecture.

"With one in Yale students taking it," Santos told the Times, "if we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we're actually seeding change in the school's culture."

Santos received undergraduate and doctorate degrees in psychology from Harvard and has taught at Yale since 2003.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Sunday Songfest in Chappaqua

The Spizzwinks of Yale greeted Yale alumni at the concert by singing the traditional Yale football medley at the a cappella concert in Chappaqua, Feb. 3.  They were joined in concert by Yale's New Blue and by Horace Greeley's Enchords and Quaker Notes (YWAA photos)

Yale singing groups, the Spizzwinks and the New Blue, made a Westchester stopover and joined groups from Horace Greeley High School for a Sunday afternoon a cappella songfest in Chappaqua, Feb. 3. 

The concert, held at the performing arts center at Seven Bridges Middle School, was jointly sponsored by YWAA and Horace Greeley. Proceeds from ticket sales will support the high school's clubs and other extracurricular events. Horace Greeley's Enchords and the Quaker Notes took the stage before the Yale groups sang after intermission. 

All groups performed familiar repertoire tunes, as well as their interpretations of popular songs.  The Spizzwinks of Yale even sang the Yale football medley. And alumnae at the concert joined the New Blue for the final song. 

The program was part of the YWAA music series of inviting Yale groups to perform in Westchester. The Spizzwinks sang in Westchester for the third time since 2013.  The Alley Cats, Red Hot & Blue and the Whiffenpoofs have also visited Westchester in recent years. 

At Horace Greeley, Enchords feature male and female voices singing in original arrangements.  The Quaker Notes is an all-female group on campus. At the concert, they both sang before an enthusiastic crowd of parents, classmates, and Yale alumni and friends. 

The Spizzwinks, who claim to be America's oldest a cappella group on campus (since 1914), sang renditions of "Once in My Life" and "No Regrets" (its traditional final song), as well as other popular songs and the football medley.  The group is headed to Iceland, Seattle and China later this year. 

The New Blue turns 50 years old this year and is Yale's oldest women's organization.  While members of the Spizzwinks and the New Blue hail from different parts of the country (from the Bay Area to Boston), the New Blue includes four from the Westchester area:  Laura Clapp '21 of Scarsdale, Anna-Sophia Boguraev '20 of Bedford, Alice Tao '20 of Tappan, and Allie Larocco '21 of Cold Spring. They had opportunities to sing solos before their own families and friends. 

Yale a cappella tradition calls for Yale a cappella alumni to join the groups for the final song.  In Chappaqua, Yale alumnae B.K. Munguia '75 and Sara Levine sang with the New Blue to conclude the concert. 

Horace Greeley, during the intermission, recognized Julia Rellou for her service to clubs and extracurricular activities at the school. YWAA board members Munguia, Levine, Regina Possavino-Serai '01, and Dan Leonard '76 helped organize the event.  Stacy Jacobs, Tom Witmer, and Priya Ma coordinated at Horace Greeley. 

See below photos of all four groups in performance:  

The New Blue of Yale is Yale's oldest women's organization

Enchords of Horace Greeley kicked off the a cappella songfest in Chappaqua.

Members of Horace Greeley's Quaker Notes and Enchords sang before an enthusiastic crowd of friends, teachers and classmates. 

Above, Enchords and the Quaker Notes in Chappaqua, Feb. 3

The Quaker Notes in Chappaqua, Feb. 3
The Quaker Notes in Chappaqua, Feb. 3

The Quaker Notes in Chappaqua, Feb. 3 

The Quaker Notes in Chappaqua, Feb. 3

Enchords and the Quaker Notes in Chappaqua, Feb. 3

Above, Yale a cappella alumni Sara Levine and Dan Leonard introduce the Yale groups

The Spizzwinks of Yale in Chappaqua, Feb. 3

The Spizzwinks of Yale sing in Chappaqua, Feb. 3

The Spizzwinks of Yale, Feb. 3, Chappaqua

The Spizzwinks of Yale, Feb. 3, Chappaqua

The Yale Spizzwinks in Chappaqua, Feb. 3

The Spizzwinks of Yale, Feb. 3

The New Blue of Yale will celebrate 50 years in 2019

Anna-Sophia Boguraev '20 of Bedford (above, top) sang a solo for New Blue during the concert

Yale's New Blue in Chappaqua, Feb. 3. Alice Tao '20 of Tappan is featured in a solo

The New Blue of Yale, Feb. 3, Chappaqua

Yale alumnae B.K. Munguia and Sara Levine joined the New Blue for the traditional final song

The New Blue of Yale, Feb. 3, Chappaqua

The New Blue of Yale, Feb. 3

Enchords and the Quaker Notes, Feb. 3

The Quaker Notes, Feb. 3, Chappaqua

The Quaker Notes, Feb. 3

Both a cappella groups from Horace Greeley posed as one for a final shot, Feb. 3, Chappaqua