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)

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