Principally Speaking - January 2019

Jeannine Clark

Dear Parents/Guardians,

On Monday, January 14 at 7:00 pm in the Middle School Library, Pulmonologist Dr. Richard Stumacher of Northern Westchester Hospital will give a timely and informative presentation on the health risks of vaping. Dr. Stumacher specializes in the treatment of ailments affecting the lungs and respiratory system. He will explain the dangers of nicotine and nicotine addiction, the differences between e-cigarettes - while focusing on Juuls and why they are most commonly used among adolescents - and wax pens and vaping THC. He will also provide advice on ways parents can talk to their sons and daughters about the short and long-term dangers of vaping.

Dr. Stumacher will be joined by Judy Mezey of Student Assistance Services who will share insights into current trends in youth substance use, drug paraphernalia, concealment of illicit drugs and alcohol, and how to talk to teens about alcohol and drugs, and what to do if you suspect a problem. Please plan to attend this presentation.

Shortly after midterm exams, students in Grades 9-11 will meet with their counselors to choose courses for the 2019-2020 school year. As you discuss various course offerings with your child, remember to review our Advanced Placement/College Course Booklet under Academics on our website for essential information on requirements and prerequisites for course enrollment. An updated AP booklet will be available on our site in mid-January.  
For some families, choosing courses can be challenging and stressful. Finding a balance in terms of requirements, rigor, choice, time for studying as well as extra-curricular activities are all-important considerations when making these decisions. On Tuesday, February 5 at 7:00 pm, the administration and counseling departments will host an informal session to answer your course selection questions. An email reminder will be sent to you in the days prior to the date.

Finally, two unannounced lockdown drills are planned for the coming months. If you wish your child to receive text message phone alerts for emergency situations, complete and submit the form (link below) by January 15, 2019. Please be advised that you may incur a charge from your phone carrier depending on your cellphone plan.


On behalf of the entire faculty and staff at PMHS, I wish everyone in the Pelham community a restful, relaxing and joyous time spent with family and friends.


Jeannine Clark

Department News

English Department

This year, PMHS is launching its own Big Read, a community-wide reading of one novel throughout the months of December, January and February.  The goal of the Big Read is to encourage students, teachers and staff to join in the reading of a novel.

We will be supporting the Big Read with an assortment of fun activities and opportunities, including a Book Club starting with Mr. Rothstein and Mr. Kopstein among others, a creative writing contest, a book raffle, a Maker Space/Art Challenge and extra credit opportunities in the classroom, just to name a few.

This year's title for the BIG READ is Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See.  

On December 16, the PMHS English Department hosted an in-store book fair at Barnes and Noble Eastchester with student performances and book readings for children to encourage a community of readers. A portion of the sales was donated to the PMHS PTA to promote future reading-themed events.

Math and Science Departments

Twelfth grader Peter Wei has been named as a recipient of the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award (ASEA) for his research. His study focused on the dysfunction of our cells' powerhouses, the mitochondria and possible pathways inhibiting its proper processes.  There are a number of models scientists are investigating to identify the mechanism behind these mitochondrial issues, and Peter's study investigates one of those models and a drug that may be used to address it. As a winner of the ASEA award, Peter's research will be highlighted on an upcoming episode of the Lisa Wexler Show on WGCH AM 1490.  He will also be honored at Acorda Therapeutics in Ardsley later this year.

The high school MakerSpace is open and available to students during the day and after school.  Our first MakerSpace Challenge was hosted this fall, and it included a number of Thanksgiving themed activities.  We continue to encourage students to take advantage of this space and use its 3D printer, T-shirt printer, X-carve, Little Bits, or any of the other tools available there.  Science classes have been using the area for investigations into cell modeling, chemical reactions and even in the design of upcoming research projects.

Social Studies Department

On December 11, The Rho Kappa Honor Society hosted its PMHS History Bowl an annual event where student groups of 4-6 participated in a history trivia competition. A standard game included three periods of questioning for the 16 teams for a total of 105 competitors. The winning team members received a History Channel: This Day in History tabletop calendar with daily history trivia. This prize will help the winning team prepare for next year's history bowl. The winning team, the Goon Platoon included James Hupprich, Jack Cardwell, Benjamin Glickman, Johannes Riehl, Daniel Bernstein and Dylan Gurl. A special thanks to the PMHS PTA for providing us with financial resources to purchase pizza and drinks for all participants and volunteers.
Storyteller and Author Carl Wilkens visited with all 9th, 10th and AP Government students on December 11 to share his experiences during the Rwandan genocide. As part of his presentation and discussion, Mr. Wilkens emphasized key themes of respect, empathy, inclusion and learning to live together.

Mr. Wilkens remained in Kigali, Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, surviving the fighting to bring much needed supplies to orphans trapped in the city. His work alongside Rwandan colleagues helped save hundreds of lives.

His visit supported the work of the District's Diversity Committee and ties in with the cultural proficiency training, a key focus of this school year that also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights Proclamation by the United Nations. It also served as a precursor for 10th grade Global History and Human Rights study on the Rwandan genocide later in the year.

While addressing the students, Mr. Wilkens challenged them to reflect on the parallels between the Rwandan genocide and persecution and their own societies, noting that discrimination can occur beyond race and religion.

"Genocide stems from a thinking that says 'My world will be better without you in it,'" he said. "Who in the U.S. thinks they would be better without others in it?"

Mr. Wilkens encouraged the students to participate in service, explaining that doing so will help change the way they think. He also spoke about "reframing," a process in which people can train themselves to look beyond preconceptions they may have about others in society.

World Languages Department

The American Association Teachers of French was pleased to announce its organization of the 17th annual National French Week. This weeklong celebration of all things French took place in schools and communities across the U.S. from November 1-7, 2018. In the high school, students were invited to participate in a friendly competition of French and Francophone trivia. There was a winner each day.

On November 7, over 100 students participated in the World Language Department annual International Dinner. Students from all high school language classes brought in dishes from all over the world, filling the tables with unique appetizers, dinners and desserts. The Mandarin, French, Italian, Spanish and Latin clubs all performed for the audience.

On Tuesday, December 18, the French, Italian, Spanish and Asian Culture Clubs went caroling at the Bayberry Nursing Home in New Rochelle. PMHS students have been bringing holiday cheer to the Bayberry residents for over 20 years.The students joyfully sang Christmas carols in different languages. Afterwards the students and audience joined in to sing popular carols in English. The event was a great success. The World Language Department thanks the PMHS PTA once again for sponsoring the cost of the bus in order for our students to go to this wonderful event.

Extra Curricular and Athletics

Forensics Speech Team

On October 27, the PMHS Forensic Speech Team competed at the Sister Raimonde Memorial Tournament at Xavier High School in Manhattan. The team placed 7th in the overall sweepstakes. Special congratulations go to Margot Phillips, Finalist in JV Oral Interpretation of Poetry, Thomas Roche, Finalist in JV Extemporaneous Speaking and  Nicholas Lieggi, 4th place in Congressional Debate.
On November 3, the PMHS Forensics Speech Team had a successful day at The Fordham Fall Classic at Fordham Preparatory School. Congratulations to the entire team for winning 6th place overall in sweepstakes.  Special congratulations go to Georgia Connolly, Finalist in JV Oral Interpretation, Nicholas Lieggi, Finalist in Congressional Debate, Isaac Blackburn, 4th place in Congressional Debate, Sofia Tahan, 3rd place in Programmed Oral Interpretation and Rebecca Jacobson, 3rd place in JV Oral Interpretation.
The PMHS Forensics Speech Team competed at the Emily Clemente Memorial Tournament at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle on December 1. Congratulations to Thomas Roche, Finalist in JV Extemporaneous Speaking, Sofia Tahan, Finalist in JV Oral Interpretation and Caitlin Winston, Finalist in Declamation. The team had a season best by placing 5th overall. In addition, Isaac Blackburn traveled to The Princeton Classic tournament in NJ and won a Finalist medal in Congressional Debate. 

Model United Nations

Congratulations to members of the PMHS Model United Nations Club. Over the weekend of November 17 and 18, the students competed at the University of Virginia Model United Nation event in Charlottesville. Our school won the title of Outstanding Small Delegation. PMHS was one of only four schools given this honor with 120 schools in attendance.

The Pelican

Congratulations to the staff of the 2018 PELICAN. The PMHS yearbook was awarded a Gold Medalist rating with All-Columbian Honors in Reference. The returning staff is beyond overjoyed with their success and cannot wait to produce another award-winning book.

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