Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Preparing the Scarsdale Garden

The Scarsdale Community Garden at Scarsdale High School will host volunteers for Day of Service, Saturday, May 19
The Scarsdale Sustainable Garden Project, one of the long-time, popular activities of Yale Westchester Day of Service, will host again in 2018.  Yale Day of Service across the globe is scheduled for May 12, 2018.  In Scarsdale, the Day of Service will be held a week later, Saturday, May 19, on the grounds of Scarsdale High School.

Under the leadership of Maggie Favretti '85, volunteers, including Yale alumni and area high school students, will clean up the garden area and prepare it for planting.  The community garden has produced thousands of pounds of food through the years, much of it donated to food pantries and soup kitchens in the region.  Yale volunteers and their guests are also invited to contribute to a pot-luck lunch.

The Garden Project has been honored often for its continuing contributions in community service.  Register for the day by clicking Scarsdale Garden.  Click Garden Project to read more about volunteers--high school students and older, busy Yale alumni--at the garden since 2013.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

America's Most Influential Movies

Yale Professor Marc Lappadula (above) will explain how he put together his Big Six of important U.S. movies at the Chappaqua Library, Tuesday, May 29 (Yale photos)
Marc Lapadula, the popular film and media studies professor at Yale, has selected six films that changed America.  The Graduate, Easy Rider, and Jaws made the list, but his list might surprise some.  I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, a 1932 film that received three Academy Awards and tells the story of a convict who escapes to Chicago, appears on Lapadula's list.

Lapadula will explain to a Yale Westchester audience why certain movies changed America or altered how Americans watched and approached cinema.  As part of YWAA's ongoing lecture series, he will speak at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, Tuesday, May 29 at 7 pm.  Yale alumni and the public are invited to attend the free event.

Lapadula's List of Six also includes Philadelphia and The Jazz Singer. His selections were based on film works that ultimately had long-term social impact on America. At Yale, where he has taught for 26 years, his courses include seminars in screenwriting, playwriting, and film analysis.  His plays have been produced in New York, England, and in other parts of the U.S.

A Penn graduate, Lapadula has also taught in adjunct roles at Columbia, Penn and Johns Hopkins.

The YWAA lecture series, dating back several years, has included other Yale professors in history, physics and political science in recent years.  Professor Paul Freedman discussed his new book Ten Restaurants That Changed America in Scarsdale in 2017.  Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar '80, '84JD, an acclaimed expert on the U.S. Constitution, spoke about the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Board director Rich Fabbro '76 leads the YWAA lecture series.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Yale Day of Service, 2018

Yale Day of Service, 2018, is just days away. Yae alumni, friends, and family members still have time to register for a day of volunteering in the community, Saturday, May 12. Former Secretary of State John Kerry '66 and Marian Wright Edelman '63 LLB are honorary co-Chairs.

For the past several years, Westchester has been the site of many volunteer events. In 2018, activities planned in the region include serving food to the homeless in White Plains, cleaning up a school garden in Garrison, and sprucing up several areas in Poughkeepsie.

One new activity, coordinated by Yale alumni Jason Sandler '16 MD and Yang Li '12, involves helping to build a house for Habitat for Humanity in Yonkers. Yale volunteers will work on the construction of a new home and will have a chance to get hands construction-dirty from framing, assembling drywall, painting, landscaping and siding.

Yale volunteers won't need to bring their own construction equipment.  Habitat for Humanity supervisors will be present and will provide tools and equipment. They will also instruct and guide.  More specific instructions (where to go, what to wear, what you will do, etc.) will be provided after volunteers register.

Habitat for Humanity, 30 years old in Westchester, has built or renovated over 800 houses in the area. Click YDoS to register and volunteer May 12.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Admitted Students Consider Yale

Current Yale students addressed Westchester admitted students at the annual YWAA, ASC reception in Bronxville, April 10. (YWAA photos)
Yale's Class of '22 is in formation.  After yet another hectic season of sifting through 35,306 applications (a Yale record) and making difficult decisions about the next four years for 17- and 18-year-olds around the world, the Yale Admissions Office becomes a marketing office. The 2,229 students admitted in late March must now make a decision about Yale. Yale is planning for 1,550 to enroll this fall (70 percent yield).

"Bulldog Days," a Yale-sponsored extravaganza inviting parents and admitted students to explore Yale in person before the May 1 deadline, is the culmination of the marketing effort. About 1,500 admitted students will attend one of two sessions.

Before prospective students invade New Haven, they may be invited to admissions events around the country. In Westchester, YWAA and the Yale Alumni Schools Committee promote Yale to admitted Westchester students, who reside just 60 miles down the parkway from New Haven, but are still seeking to learn as much as they can in three weeks about Yale's culture and academic offerings .

Yale Westchester's effort to promote Yale is the annual Admitted Students Reception in Bronxville. Debra Johns, a Yale admissions official, returned to Bronxville April 10 for the annual reception, accompanied by three current Yale students, all from Westchester. Admitted students, their parents, and Yale Westchester alumni interviewers attended the reception.

Once again, with the tide turned, Johns and her Yale student panelists happily explained how some of the Westchester applicants wowed admissions officials with not only glowing scores and GPA's, but with dazzling essays and unforgettable responses to "Why Yale?" or "What would you bring to a Yale suite?" or "What inspires you?"

Johns highlighted some of the clever Westchester-applicant replies to the question about individual contributions to a Yale suite, including one admitted applicant who claimed to have expertise in preparing sushi for suitemates. Johns also read short passages from impressive essays.

Admitted students, introducing themselves during the program, are graduating from such Westchester high schools as Edgemont, Yonkers, New Rochelle, Stepinac, White Plains, Scarsdale, and others. They also had a chance to hear about the experiences (good and bad, memorable and unforgettable) from current Yale students and ask questions about even some of the most mundane moments of college life.

David Shimer '19, a Chappaqua native and Horace Greeley graduate, shared stories and experiences of being the Editor-in-Chief at the Yale Daily News and of graduating in May with B.A. and M.A. degrees in history, but wishing he had taken the time to take more courses in the arts. Affiliated with Davenport College, he has also interned at the New York Times.

Johns reminded Shimer he forgot to mention another accomplishment.  In December, he was awarded a Marshall scholarship and will study international relations at Oxford next year.

Kaitlin Cardon '20, a White Plains graduate and current Timothy Dwight resident, talked about her study-abroad stint in Morocco last summer and her experience as a R.O.T.C student, which requires her to rise at 5 a.m. on some days. She recounted her extensive travels as a Yale student in Europe (from Denmark to Spain) and on the West Coast. She lavished praise on T.D.'s cheeseburgers.

The student panelists, at the urging of Johns and in response to admitted students' questions, debated (as they always do) which residential college was the best and discussed how they planned their days and strategized on getting appropriate amounts of sleep. 

With a rising trend among seniors in living off campus, the students rigorously argued the pros and cons of the off-campus experience. But they all concurred on the virtues and quality of Yale dining-hall food.  They reflected on the living experiences of first-year students. (With the construction of two new colleges, first-year students from four residential colleges now live away from Old Campus.)

The prospective students, attentive and on seat edges, asked questions not necessarily addressed thoroughly on websites and in social networks.  Many of them have already decided to attend Yale. One was already sporting a Yale sweatshirt. Some have tough decisions to make in three weeks.

Several Yale alumni interviewers attended the event. Bill Primps '71, head of the Yale Westchester Alumni Schools Committee, and Tim Mattison '73, YWAA president, greeted the guests.

Yale admissions official Debra Johns recounted some of the memorable passages from the applications of admitted Westchester students (YWAA photos).

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Live in Concert This Spring

An upcoming concert for both groups is scheduled in Manhattan, April 13. The Whiffenpoofs will sing in Rye, April 15.
The Whiffenpoofs and Whim 'n Rhythm, Yale's senior singing groups on a last fling of rounds of singing before the school year ends (and before they embark on summer tours), will be in concert in the New York area in April.

The two groups will sing together at the Brick Church (62 East 92nd Street) in New York City Friday, April 13 at 8 pm in a concert supported by the Whiffenpoofs of '65. (Tickets are available at TicketBud.) They will also sing at a Commencement Concert at Yale, May 20. 

The Whiffenpoofs '18 include Baritone Danny Keller '18, a native of Rye and computer science major.  This year's business manager and announcer in the group, Keller returns home with fellow Whiffs when the group sings at Rye Presbyterian Church (882 Boston Post Road), Sunday, Apr. 15 at 3 pm. Tickets are available at the door.

Typical for the group, as it travels across the country and world, the Whiffs have already had concerts in Texas, California, Washington State and Maryland in 2018. 

Both the Whiffenpoofs and Whim 'n Rhythm made news earlier this year when they announced they will permit candidates of either sex to audition for their respective groups.  The Whiffs recently announced its first female participant, Sofia Campoamor '19, who will join the Whiffs next year after singing with Mixed Company of Yale.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Yale Book Awards, 2018

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 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 was a new participant in 2016. 

The program is supported by YWAA and alumni donations.

Click YBA for more about the awards in past years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ivy Madness: Yale Bows Out

Yale's all-time leading scorer, Earl "Butch" Graves '84, a Scarsdale native, was honored during the Yale-Penn tournament game in Philadelphia, Mar. 11. (YWAA photos)
After having finished in the top four, both Yale's men's and women's basketball teams made the trek Mar. 11 to Philadelphia for the second annual Ivy League basketball tournament. Cheerleaders, the Yale Precision Marching Band, dozens of alumni in blue and a handful of students filed into the ancient Palestra arena.  For the second year in a row, the tournament, even for all the special electricity and celebration of Ivy athletics, turned into big home games for Penn's teams. While Yale followers journeyed from afar, Penn fans scampered across campus and town and helped jam the old gym with red and blue. Yale's men and women lost in first-round games. 

Penn's men's squad demolished Yale, 80-57, on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs, which had beaten the Quakers at home, 80-79, on Mar. 2, forgot how to shoot, missing baskets from every spot on the floor and missing them consistently.  Later that evening, Yale's women also scored 57 and lost to Princeton (78-57), which beat Penn for the Ivy title.

Yale teams didn't retreat back to New Haven with heads too bowed.  That Yale is competing in basketball in mid-March is a phenomenon only a few years old. That Yale teams have winning records year after year now puts satisfying smiles on Yale basketball followers (and athletic-department officials). (The men's team lost to Princeton in the finals last year, won the league title the year before, and lost in a play-off to Harvard the year before that.)

In its second year, the tournament is already a festive pat on the back to how things are conducted in the Ivy League.  Tournament officials run the affair like other big-time tournaments (bands, banners, on-court contests, loudspeaker music, all-tournament teams, confetti, etc.), but with Ivy League flavor with steady reminders of scholar-athletes and basketball alumni with stunning off-court achievements.

Westchester's Earl "Butch" Graves '84, arguably one of Yale's best ever players, who led the Bulldogs in 1980-84, was honored on court during an intermission for being one of the Ivy League's "legends," one of its all-time best.  Before Yale, Graves was a star at Scarsdale High School. At Yale, he set scoring records (2,090 points, best at Yale), many of which still stand. After Yale, he continues to be a big supporter of Yale basketball and leader among its basketball alumni. (One-time Westchester resident John J. Lee, Jr., '58 scored 1,493 points in three varsity seasons.)

The men's team, which finished 16-15 this year, will start the next season in China with a game against Cal. The women will play at least one more game (vs. Northeastern in the WBI tournament).

In the men's tournament, Penn beat Harvard for the Ivy League championship, as Penn fans swarmed the court after its 63-60 victory. (YWAA photos)

Yale shot poorly against Penn and lost 80-57, after having beaten the Quakers in New Haven, Mar. 2 They launch the 2018-19 season with a game against Cal in China. (YWAA photos)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Save the Date: Day of Service

Yale Day of Service, 2018, is set for Saturday, May 12. Save the date, and be ready to volunteer in New York-area communities. Former Secretary of State John Kerry '66 and Marian Wright Edelman '63 LLB, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, are honorary co-Chairs this year.

Yale Day of Service is a day of volunteering, cleaning up, sprucing up, helping out and getting involved in many ways in communities around the world.

At least two sites will be in Westchester County. Jason Sandler '16 M.D. is coordinating efforts to assist Habitat for Humanity at a house in Yonkers.  In White Plains, volunteers will help serve dinner to the homeless at the Bread of Life Food Rescue and Pantry.

In Poughkeepsie, volunteers will help clean up areas in the city. Amy Savage '10 Ph.D. will lead the site. Anne Todd Osborn '00 M.F., coordinator, will lead volunteers who will help in a school garden in Garrison.

Over the past several years, YWAA leaders and volunteers have hosted 3-4 sites annually, including the SPCA in Briarcliff Manor and the community garden in Scarsdale.  Click Westchester-Day-of-Service for more about past sites and Day-of-Service events.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Red, Hot & Blue in Rye

Red, Hot & Blue, the a capaella singing group from Yale, will make a return appearance in concert at the Osborn Auditorium in Rye, Friday, Mar. 2, 2018, at 7:30. The event is free and open to all.

The concert, organized in part by YWAA board director Bill Nightingale '53, will also feature Princeton's Roaring 20 group. The two groups performed at the Osborn last Feb., 2017, and in Dec., 2015. They will sing selections from jazz, pop and the American songbook.

Red, Hot, & Blue is Yale's oldest co-ed singing group, setting an example for Yale's oldest singing group, the Whiffenpoofs, which this month selected for the next school term its first female singer in its history.

In 2017, Red, Hot & Blue celebrated its 40th anniversary with tours in France and Puerto Rico. In 2018, the group sang in Little Rock in January and will spend spring break in Seattle.  In May, it plans a trip to China.

Its current repertoire includes such selections as "Georgia on My Mind," "Blackbird," and "Every time We Say Goodbye."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Favretti Receives Sobol Award

In Scarsdale Jan. 23, Maggie Favretti '85 will receive the Thomas Sobol Award for Community Service
Scarsdale High School teacher and community leader Maggie Favretti '85 will receive Scarsdale's Thomas Sobol Award for Service to the Community at a luncheon in Scarsdale Jan. 23.  The award is sponsored by the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service and honors the late superintendent of schools in Scarsdale. 

Mary Lou McClure, CFO and Custodian of Taxes for the Village of Scarsdale, is a co-recipient of the award.

Favretti, an art history major at Yale and long-time instructor in social studies and world history, coordinates the community garden at Scarsdale, a popular site for Yale Day of Service, and has supervised many school clubs and activities, including a new student group devoted to understanding and helping in the global refugee crisis. Her leadership in the garden, which helps distribute over 1,000 pounds of food annually to food banks in the region, was recognized by the White House.

"Maggie has connected with countless students, family and community members not only because of her dedication to the school and to education in general, but also because of her belief that we each have the capacity to improve the world around us....," Thomas Hagerman, Scarsdale's current schools superintendent, said in Scarsdale10583. 

In Aug., 2017, Favretti received the Sousa Mendes Foundation award for her work organizing student tu support refugees.

Sobol, for whom the award is named, was superintendent for 16 years before becoming New York State Commissioner of Education from 1987-95.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Price to Speak at Jay Heritage Center

Hugh Price '66 Law will be one of three speakers featured at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, Jan. 15, at an event organized by the American Women of African Heritage.

Hugh Price '66 Law, Yale Law Graduate, New Rochelle resident and a former President and CEO of the National Urban League, will be one of three featured authors who will speak at Jay Estate in Rye, Jan. 15 (2-5 pm), as part of the celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. Price will be joined by authors Brenda Ross and Tiffany D. Jackson. 

This year he published his memoir This African-American Life, which recounts his years growing up in Washington, D.C., his days at Yale Law School and working in the New Haven community, and programs he pursued while at the Urban League. 

The Annual Literary Tea, held at the Jay Heritage Center for the fourth straight year, is sponsored by the American Women of African Heritage.

Price has been affiliated with the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. In Westchester, he served on the board and was a Chairman at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville.  He headed the National Urban League from 1994-2003. During his time there, he established the Institute for Opportunity and Equality. He is also the author of Mobilizing the Community, Getting Your Child the Best Education, and Achievement Matters.

While at Yale Law School, he was executive director of the Black Coalition of New Haven, which was instrumental in providing legal services to low-income families.  Before becoming CEO at the Urban League, Price held posts at the New York Times (editorial board) and the Rockefeller Foundation.

At the National Urban League, he focused on education, youth development, and economic empowerment in African-American communities. He also launched the Campaign for African American Achievement program.

A graduate also of Amherst College, Price has taught at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton.

Speaker Brenda Ross is the author of Bibsy, a love story that captures small-town, African-American life.  Tiffany D. Jackson wrote the novel Allegedly, selected by many reviewers as one of the best young-adult novels of 2017.  Her novel Monday's Not Coming will be published in June.

Suzanne Clary '83 is president of the board of trustees at the Jay Heritage Center. The Center hosted Yale history professor Joanne Freeman as part of the YWAA speaker series in Dec., 2015.

For more about tickets ($65/person) for the Martin Luther King Day event, contact or  Or call the Center at 914-698-9275.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

YWAA Highlights, 2017

In Ardsley in November, the Westchester debate competition featured a Yale-Princeton square-off and six high schools competing in later rounds. (YWAA photos)
YWAA Highlights, 2017

The year 2017 at YWAA included the traditional, the historical, the usual, something theatrical, something academic, and even something for Westchester alumni who want to know about eclectic, game-changing American restaurants. 

Alumni contributed, served, organized, worked, interviewed, and were honored. Some ventured back to campus for alumni activities, meetings, and assemblies. They slipped back to tailgate at a football game, witness the recent success of Yale basketball, or sample yet again "world's best" New Haven pizza all across town. 

Students returned to Westchester to debate, recruit, or simply rest from the non-stop flurry of college activity, Yale style.  A quartet of baseball teammates from Westchester helped lead the Yale squad to an Ivy championship. And Westchester students won prestigious awards.

From the arts to community service, from the sciences to athletic feats, shall we dare acknowledge it was just another eventful year among Yale students and alumni, including those with ties to Westchester?

In February, the Yale a cappella group Red Hot & Blue joined a group from Princeton to perform a concert at the Osborne in Rye.  The Yale singers celebrated a 40th anniversary and toured France and Puerto Rico in 2017.  YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53 organized the event.

Also in February, the unique Yale tradition of celebrating the doldrums of mid-winter with Yale-organized dinners and drink-ups, Feb Club Emeritus, continued with Yale gatherings around the world. There is no purpose behind Feb Club except to convene Yale alumni at any site on the globe and celebrate Yale ties--on any day in February. The tradition endures.  Krista Madsen '95 organized the Westchester Feb Club in Sleepy Hollow.

In March, Yale-Greenwich invited Westchester alumni to hear Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.D. speak about current Yale topics. With the planned opening of two new residential colleges and new facilities at the School of Music and the renaming of Calhoun College to Hopper College, Salovey and Connecticut-Westchester alumni had much to discuss during the evening.

The two new colleges, Franklin and Pauli Murray, opened in the fall and helped push the center of gravity on campus from Bass Library to the edge of Science Hill. 

In 2016, Yale's men's basketball ignited March Madness in the NCAA tourney with a shocking win over Baylor and a near earth-shaking upset of Duke. In March, 2017, the team earned a spot in the inaugural Ivy League tournament in Philadelphia. In front of a crowd of Yale supporters who drove down from the Tri-State area, it lost to Princeton in the finals and didn't get an invite to the tournament. Regarded a success, the Ivy tourney returns to Penn's campus in Mar., 2018.

May highlights another Yale-alumni tradition, a time where Yale alumni galvanize each other to  champion community service:  Yale Day of Service.  YWAA and Yale alumni sponsored three volunteer events in the Westchester region. Yale-Westchester Day of Service, for the past several years, has revolved around the eager leadership of Maggie Favretti '85 and Susan Kaminsky '86.  Favretti once again coordinated the activities at the Scarsdale community garden.  Kaminsky organized volunteers at the Briarcliff Manor SCPA. 

Yale history professor Paul Friedman was the featured speaker at the YWAA speaker series, where a Yale faculty member is invited to speak to alumni and guests about a current social or political topic or about recent academic research and interests. Friedman spoke at the Scarsdale Library in March, but he didn't lecture about his specialty in medieval history.  

He had just published a well-received book about the 10 restaurants that have the greatest impact on American dining.  Not the 10 best, he reminded his Scarsdale audience, but the 10 most influential.  The book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, included such restaurants as Howard Johnson's, Sylvia's in Harlem, The Four Seasons, and Delmonico's in Manhattan.  YWAA board treasurer Rich Fabbro '76 organized the event.

In April, YWAA, along with the Westchester Alumni Schools Committee, hosted the annual reception for newly admitted Yale-Westchester students in Bronxville.  This year was unusual, because in the Class of 2021, Yale admitted its largest first-year class ever. The traditional 1,350 newcomers to New Haven has risen to a count of 1,600-plus.

At the reception, the new admits meet current Yale students and an admissions director, share stories about the hectic process to gain admission, and discuss why they might choose Yale over, say, that other school near Boston. Westchester ASC director William Primps '71 led the event.

Under the guidance of Peter Santhanam '85 Ph.D., YWAA again sponsored the Yale Book Awards, which highlights the achievements of Westchester high school students.  Winners of the award receive the book The Yale Book of Quotations (Fred Shapiro, Law Faculty, editor). They were selected by their respective high schools, typically for accomplishments in academics and community service. In 2017, YWAA presented 51 awards.

On athletic fields, Westchester's greatest presence is in baseball. Four Westchester players were significant contributors to the Yale team's blazing success in 2017.  The Bulldogs, thanks in part to pitching, hitting, fielding and captaining from the Westchester quartet, won the Ivy League championship and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. 

Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17 captained the team and pounded out doubles and singles routinely for four years (accumulating over 185 total hits and hitting .330.). Tim DeGraw '19, a speedy wide receiver during his football days at Rye High School, was swift on the base paths at Yale and just as fleet in roaming the outfield. He batted over .300 and stole more than a dozen bases.  Kumar Nambiar '19 of Mamaroneck and Griffen Dey '19, also of Pound Ridge, were stalwarts on the mound.

Maggie Favretti '85, who spearheads efforts at the Scarsdale community garden, was honored this summer for other activities she helps lead at Scarsdale High School.  The Sousa Mendes Foundation, based in New York, cited Favretti for encouraging students at the school to start an organization, Students for Refugees, a group that supports refugee efforts around the world and informs Westchester students and residents about the plight of refugees, particularly those from Syria.  The group started in 2015 and has launched chapters at other area high schools.

YWAA returned to Boscobel in August. On the docket was a play not written by Shakespeare, but still performed by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Yale alumni, family, guests and friends saw Richard Nelson's The General from America, an account of Benedict Arnold's defection to the British army--which occurred in historyi not far from the Boscobel tent setting.

YWAA's Sunday outing at Boscobel traditionally includes the pre-performance lecture from Yale professor Murray Biggs, who rallies Yale alumni and guests with bits of history, lots of insight, and bundles of energy about the performance they will see.  Biggs specializes in Shakespeare drama  and still stirred the Yale group on the history of Benedict Arnold on the Hudson. Rich Fabbro '76 coordinated the outing this year.

When the first days of November arrive, when the leaves are whisking in the wind, and when darkness arrives too early, it's debate time at YWAA. Yale and selected Ivy teams compete and are followed by the annual contest among six high schools. The YWAA Debate Competition in Nov., about to enter its third decade, featured a showdown this Nov., 2017, between Yale and Princeton.

Ardsley High School, proving it could attract a crowd of students, parents, and alumni on a fall Friday evening, hosted the event again.  The Yale debate duo bounced back from a Princeton defeat in 2016 to win this year.  High school teams followed and tackled topics such as free speech, immigration laws, and voting requirements.  Blind Brook, which hosted the competition in 2013, was the high school winner this year.

Dana Sands '83 and Bill Nightingale '53 were instrumental in organizing the event--along with Princeton's Westchester group. Prizes and scholarships are funded in part from YWAA's William Nightingale Debate Fund.

The Game was back in New Haven in 2017.  Two years ago, The Game--Harvard vs. Yale in football--turned into a Harvard rout, although annals will record it as the first game where the Yale Bowl had to turn temporary lights on (in the second half).  Last year in Boston, thousands of Yale fans swarmed the artificial turf at Harvard Stadium to celebrate Yale's first win over the Cantabs in 10 years. In 2017, it was Yale's Game, not much in doubt after the first quarter.  This year, with rain threatening and the sun never bothering to show up, thousands of Yale fans swarmed the Yale Bowl's torn-up, ragged turf to celebrate a 24-3 win.

Off the fields and in Yale labs and classrooms, Westchester students shined and earned nationally and international acclaim. David Shimer '18, a Yale Daily News editor in chief and Chappaqua native, was one of three Yale seniors to earn a Marshall scholarship. He will study history at Oxford.  Scarsdale's Lauren Singer '21 was honored by WebMD, the medical information website, for her years of work in autism. 

The lineup in 2018 will include the familiar (Yale Day of Service, a speaker invited from Yale, Boscobel, and debate), and it might yield a variation of a familiar theme or something new and different--more honors, new community-service sites, new events, and a new class of Westchester students bound for Yale.

Happy holidays!

(Click Highlights to review summaries from 2013-16.)

Yale baseball won an Ivy League championship--thanks in part to invaluable contributions from a quartet of Westchester teammates (Yale Athletics photos)
In Scarsdale, Yale professor Paul Friedman shared insights for how he picked the 10 restaurants that changed America (YWAA photos)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Scarsdale's Singer Named WebMD Hero

For her research and leadership in autism, Lauren Singer '21 has been selected as a 2017 Health Hero (WebMD photo)

Lauren Singer '21, a first-year student at Yale and resident of Scarsdale, was named by the health-information website WebMD as one of three "Health Heroes" of 2017. She was selected for her work in autism, including projects, programs and research since middle school. 

A graduate of Scarsdale High School, Singer was inspired by her sister Jodie, who has autism.  From her sophomore days in high school, Singer has spent summers assisting in autism research at Mount Sinai in New York City. 

At Yale, she is studying perceptive cognitive science and philosophy. At Scarsdale High School, she was named a 2017 Regeneron Science Talent semifinalist (formerly sponsored by Intel), based on her autism research.  She also received a U.S. Congressional Award Bronze Medal for related research. 

WebMD has presented its Heroes Awards for the past 11 years and honors those who have contributed to improve health care and wellness in communities and who have researched or made notable progress in certain health challenges.  Singer is one of three recipients selected by a team of WebMD editors from candidates around the country.  

WebMD will donate $25,000 to a health-care program selected by Singer. (Singer selected the Child Mind Institute.) She and the other two winners will be celebrated at an event in Jan., 2018, in New York City.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Chappaqua's Shimer Earns Marshall

David Shimer '18, a Horace Greeley graduate, will study in the U.K., along with Yale Marshall winners Erika Green '18 and Amanda Royka '18 (Yale photos)

David Shimer '18, a 2014 graduate of Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, was awarded a Marshall Scholarship in early December to study at Oxford next year.  He will be joined by two other Yale seniors, Erika Green '18 and Amanda Royka '18.

Next spring, from Yale, Shimer will earn both B.A. and M.A. degrees in history. While at Yale, he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News, interned in Berlin with the New York Times last summer and worked in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign on the debate-preparation and policy teams. He has also been elected to Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Truman Scholarship.

At Greeley, Shimer was class valedictorian, captain of the debate team, and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.  At Oxford, he will study international relations.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Game Becomes Yale's Game

Yale had little difficulty in securing its 24-3 victory over Harvard in the 2017 Game. (YWAA photos)

Clouds hovered over the Yale Bowl all day. The day was gray, chilly.  Rain threatened for much of the afternoon, until drops poured over the crowd in the late afternoon.  As gloomy as the setting appeared, it turned out to be Yale's day.

For the second year in a row (the start of a long streak?), in front of a Bowl crowd of 51,424, Yale stopped Harvard and won the 134th edition of The Game at the Yale Bowl.  For the second year in a row, thousands of Yale students, young alumni, maybe a few elderly alumni, fans, followers, parents and siblings counted down the clock to zero and sprinted onto the Bowl's torn, ripped-up, late-fall turf to celebrate. They leaped, pranced, sang, and hugged each other. This could grow into a beloved habit, a decade-long tradition.

Yale, in fact, on the field trounced Harvard, 24-3. Thanks to a defense that twice smothered a confused Harvard backfield and recovered two fumbles in Harvard territory, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-3 in the second quarter.  And The Game was hardly in doubt after that.

Fans didn't get to see a close, nail-biting, nip-and-tuck skirmish.  And they didn't get to see the outstanding first-year running back Zane Dudek '21 scamper for long runs down the sideline. There was minimal drama, beyond Yale Coach Tony Reno finding moments with minutes to go to permit everybody to enter the game. This was still Yale's day.

Yale calls this "Team 145," a squad that features large numbers from football hotbeds in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  (Team 145 includes no participants from Westchester.  Is Westchester no longer a favorite recruiting ground for Ivy talent?)  Dudek, who scored a late touchdown, hails from Pennsylvania.  JP Shohfi '20, a receiver, who snagged an end-zone fade pass for a touchdown in the second quarter, is from California. 

Quarterback Kurt Rawlings '20, who tossed the perfect arc of a pass to Shohfi, is from Maryland. Malcolm Dixon '20, who scooped up a Harvard fumble and raced 19 yards for a score, is from California.

In the stands for the first time, Yale students had to push each other to make cheering space for residents from two new colleges:  Pauli Murray and Franklin Colleges.  At the Yale-Harvard game, Yale students sit in residential-college sections and raise their college flags.  For the first time, flags were raised for Murray and Franklin. 

On the field at halftime, the Yale Band celebrates the colleges, and band members run around on the field waving college banners.  For the first time, 14 banners (including those from Murray and Franklin), not 12, were waved amidst the band's formations.

This being the Ivy League, the band did something Ivy League.  It paid tribute to departing Harvard president Drew Faust by playing in her honor a special composition by Yale music director Thomas Duffy.  The piece featured the notes D, G, and F, representing her initials. A band emcee explained the musical motive on the public-address system.

The same band, of course, at the end of the third quarter, provided the soundtrack to the enduring Yale tradition at The Game--the Saybrook (or Pierson, many years ago) strip, where dozens of students cast aside clothing to celebrate (a) the Yale-Harvard game, (b) Yale being a Yale, (c) a football tradition that dates back to the 1970's, and (d) youthful freedom to perform gestures in public (and on national television). Officials hurried over to the section to observe whether any students would go too far. (Unlike last year, students weren't escorted out of the stadium.) 

Back on the field, this Game meant Yale wins the Ivy League championship outright for the first time since 1980.  Team 145 finished the season at 9-1, one of the best years ever.

In the 1980 Game in Harvard Stadium, Yale beat Harvard, 14-0, and, yes, back then, Yale band members ran in random directions waving residential-college flags, Harvard students taunted and teased their Yale counterparts, a dozen or so Yale students stripped in the third quarter, and a few thousand Yale followers dashed onto the wet, cold, trampled turf when the clock wound down.  

Traditions at Yale don't die. They go on and on, or they resurface, reappear, and thrive.

AYA's Alumni Village with free hot dogs, cider, clam chowder and pop corn for Yale alumni is now part of The Game tradition (YWAA photos)

Gray skies and threatening rain didn't damper Yale students and alumni spirits (YWAA photos)

By mid-second quarter, over 51,000 fans had found their way into the Bowl, as Yale took a 14-3 lead (YWAA photos)

Yale will add another Ivy Champ banner for the 2018 season (YWAA photos)

Harvard scored first in The Game, and then its offense disappeared for the afternoon (YWAA photos)

The Yale Band played a tribute to the outgoing Harvard president and, of course, taunted Harvard during its halftime show. (YWAA photos)
As sure as it's November on the calendar, if Yale wins, its following will race onto and storm the field if the Bulldogs win (YWAA photos)

The flag-waving parade on the field at halftime now includes banners from the new Murray and Franklin colleges. (YWAA photos)
Yale beat Harvard for only the third time since 2000. (YWAA photos)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Yale, Princeton Compete in Debate

Yale was able to recapture the debate crown from Princeton, a 2016 winner. (YWAA photos--Munguia, Mattison)
The annual Westchester Debate Competition, showcasing teams from Yale and Princeton, returned to Ardsley High School, Nov. 3. For a second straight year, area students, teachers, debate coaches, families, and alumni gathered eagerly, as teams took the stage to address political and social issues in the way of formal debate.

Yale won the college competition (the 21st annual event), seizing the collegiate crown after Princeton's win last year.  Blind Brook High School, a 2013 host for the competition, was named the winner of the high school competition, which included five other squads.

Dana Sands '83 and Bill Nightingale '53 acted as a Co-Chairs for the event and were joined by Princeton's Westchester alumni president Martin Sklar in organizing the debate program and a pre-competition dinner for competing students.

The format followed the conventional Westchester program, where Yale and Princeton debaters determined a topic before the competition began, sparred back and forth (point, counter-part, more statements and more rebuttals), and waited for judges (local officials) to announce a winner. 

High school teams, coached by the college students, followed and addressed such issues about whether the U.S. has an obligation to enforce immigration laws, whether colleges have an obligation to protect campuses from hate speech, and whether American citizens who opt not to vote should be fined.

Participating high schools included Byram Hills vs. Fox Lane, Ardsley vs. Blind Brook, and Rye Neck vs. Yonkers.  High school winners (from Blind Brook) received scholarships, funded in part from the William Nightingale '53 Debate Fund. 

Byram Hills hosted the event in 2015. Hackley School hosted in 2014.

(Participants and debate rosters will follow.)

Ardsley High School again hosted the Westchester Debate Competition, Nov. 3, 2017
Winners from Blind Brook High School joined the judges after the high school competition.  All participates gathered at the stage for a final photo. (YWAA photos--Munguia, Mattison)

Debate students from Yale, Princeton and six high schools met each other at a dinner in the Ardsley school library. (YWAA photos)

Debate Co-Chair Bill Nightingale '53 (top, R) greeted guests at Ardsley and thanked the school and other organizers. (YWAA photos)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Yale-Princeton Debate, Nov. 3 in Ardsley

Westchester Debate continues for the 21st year in Ardsley, Nov. 3 (YWAA photos)
When college and high school debate squads spar on stage this year, what will be the topics around which they craft shrewd arguments?

With a U.S. presidential election last year's news, there still won't be a shortage of political issues and subjects to address before a typical audience of hundreds of students, parents, and debate enthusiasts:  Climate change, health care, tax policy, nuclear warheads, sustainable-energy initiatives, divisive politics, or perhaps national-anthem gestures at football games. 

The 21st annual Yale Westchester Debate Competition returns to Ardsley High School, Friday, Nov. 3,  2017. Once again, the Yale Debate Team will start the night at 7 pm with a showdown against Princeton, last year's winner at Ardsley. Scarsdale's Michael Bogarty '19 debated for Yale in 2016.  Yale won the competition in 2014 and 2015.  Brown triumphed in 2013, when it joined Yale and Princeton as a competing squad.

The college debaters this year will be followed by six Westchester high-school teams. The collegians will also help coach the high-school students on their topics and arguments before they debate. If tradition rules, the topics among the high-schoolers won't be any less controversial or complicated. In 2016, judges pronounced Horace Greeley High School as the winner.

The annual Debate is sponsored in part by YWAA's William Nightingale Fund, which honors YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53.  Nightingale returns as event co-Chair and emcee. 

Ardsley High School, after filling its auditorium last year with home-school fans, teachers, and students, as well as area Yale and Princeton alumni, was invited to host again. The competition in recent years has been hosted by high schools from Byram Hills, Rye Brook, Hackley, and the Masters School.

Yale alumni, family, friends and those interested in hearing the younger generation think out loud about some of the toughest issues of the times are invited.  There is no charge or fee.

Debaters from Yale, Princeton and Brown compete during the 2014 Westchester competition at Hackley School. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fall, 2017: Campus Scenes

(Michael Morand)
Yale Beinecke staffer Michael Morand captured these early-fall images on Yale's campus.  This is the time of year when sunny, leafy afternoons, which within the next month will become hints of darkness, form the backdrop of many student activities. 

This fall, the area around the Yale Bowl is bustling and busy. Intramurals are in full swing and the football team is faring better than expected. Near campus, returnees have discovered new New Haven eateries and shops.  Midterms are on the horizon. The Black Student Alliance at Yale celebrated a 50th anniversary.

There is a bubble of excitement about the two new residential colleges (Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin), where residents have held formal openings, designed college seals and determined their respective colors and mascots. 

There is a new Yale College dean (Marvin Chun) and even recurring debate among some about the virtue and value of the residential-college system--a debate some alumni say that occurs about, oh, every other year or so. 

In the fall, Yale really feels like Yale.

Monday, September 11, 2017

And Then There Were 14

Yale's campus just got bigger:  The new residential colleges, Murray and Franklin, opened this fall, as Yale welcomed the largest first-year class in its history. (Yale and Yale Daily News photos)
For over a half-century, the lives of Yale undergraduates revolved around 12 residential colleges:  "My randomly assigned residential college is better than your randomly assigned college," so the saying goes these days, unless the student chooses to transfer (which, they say, doesn't happen as frequently as years before). 

Some of the 12 colleges were informally paired, if only because they were rivals in intramurals, because they shared boundaries or because their residents could see each other through fourth-floor windows:  Silliman and Timothy Dwight; Morse and Stiles; Branford and Saybrook, and Davenport and Pierson, e.g.

But then in 2017, change came.

First, Calhoun College, after protests, deliberation, surveys and advanced analysis, formally changed its name to Hopper College, a tribute to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper '34 Ph.d.

Second, the new school year introduced two new colleges, housed in brand-new, Gothic-impression buildings adjacent to Science Hill in Yale neighborhoods that many undergraduates through the decades hardly frequented.  Now there are 14--the first time Yale has added colleges since Morse and Stiles opened in 1961.

The two new colleges, named for Pauli Murray '65 S.J.D. and Benjamin Franklin, opened their doors to both new and old Yale students in late August, 2017.  And all of a sudden, the center of gravity of undergraduate life might have been pulled away from Cross Campus and has eased its way toward Prospect Street.

The new 2016-17 school year also marks the largest first-year class in Yale history with over 1,600 students (including 28 from Westchester)--a number that approaches the class sizes at peer schools like Harvard, Penn and Stanford. 

In the short term, visitors and prospective students will likely swarm toward Murray (on the north side) and Franklin (on the south side) colleges to see the new buildings, court yards, dining halls, libraries, theater spaces, and kitchenettes--modern features with a classic, Yale touch.  Some alumni, young and old, might quietly wish they could restart their bright college years in these polished new surroundings.