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Eighth Grader Writes Short Play on Pandemic

Eighth Grader Writes Short Play on Pandemic photo thumbnail179688

As Rye Neck Middle School eighth grader Ella Grann sat in her school’s Performing Arts Center, she diligently took notes as a group of high school students recited lines from her original play. Grann, who wrote the short play during lockdown last spring, said she was inspired to reflect on the similarities between the coronavirus pandemic and other viruses, such as the smallpox pandemic, Spanish flu and Ebola.

“The main message [of my play] is that humanity can overcome pandemics even if society is changed forever,” Grann said. “Other generations made it through these epidemics and pandemics, and we can make it through the coronavirus.”

Grann’s play tells the story of four girls living in different pandemics or epidemics. One of her characters, Emma, faces smallpox at a time when marriage was a way that a woman’s worth was measured; Mary’s indecisiveness impacts how careful she is about avoiding the Spanish flu; Nyah is living in Kenya when the Ebola virus starts to spread; and when Sophia was a young child, her parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico and are now facing the coronavirus pandemic.

Theater director and drama teacher Scott Harris, who taught Grann in his drama class last year and also directed her in the middle school production of “The Wizard of Oz” the prior year, recognized the young playwright’s talent. After reading through her drafts, he invited Grann to listen to his Intermediate Acting class students read aloud her play.

“This is an integral part of the development process for a young playwright,” Harris said. “It allows her to hear her words spoken aloud rather than just reading them in her own voice off the page. This helps the playwright shape her script and realize what is working and what needs revision.”

Harris described Grann’s play as ambitious and advanced for such a young student.

“I was very impressed with the complexity of the character development and the mature themes she tackled,” he said. “Rather than sit back and simply relax during the school shutdown, Ella took it upon herself to synthesize what was happening in the world around her and compare that to previous pandemics, then boil all of it down to a short play that also deals with women’s issues.”

Grann said she was grateful to her teacher and the high school students for reading her play aloud, which helped her refine it and make any necessary revisions.

“I enjoy all of the playwriting process, especially hearing my words come to life,” she said. “I loved writing at the most random times when my ideas sparked. This was the first play that I have written, but I guarantee it will not be the last.”

Seventh Graders Test Parachute Designs From Library Balcony

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Rye Neck Middle School seventh graders took on the roles of engineers to build a parachute for a small figurine, using only a specified list of items. The students took turns dropping their parachutes from the school’s library balcony on Jan. 4 and 7 to test their designs while a classmate recorded how long it took the parachute to land.

“The students’ task was to design, finance, build and concept-defend a parachute that stays afloat for the longest possible time and can accurately land on a target at a certain distance below the drop point,” teacher Skyler Mosenthal said. “Like any real-world building project, there was a budget the students must not exceed.”

With a hypothetical budget of $1,000, with tissue paper at $85, plastic shopping bags at $150, tape at $25 per inch, yarn at $25 per foot, a paper clip at $30 and pipe cleaners at $15, as well as a one-time scissors rental at $75 and a hole punch rental at $50, the students had to be efficient with their designs and building materials.

Throughout the challenge, the students created neat, detailed sketches with labels and dimensions of their parachute designs. They noted the tests they conducted, reflected on solutions to their task and defended their designs by detailing why they engineered their parachutes a certain way.

Superintendent's Letter to Families - January 1st -

Please click HERE to view the Superintendent's letter to families dated January 1, 2021

Rye Neck Students Display Mask Quilt

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Rye Neck High School and Middle School students, who created original designs on disposable masks, have displayed the final mask quilt at their school’s Community Room.

“It was a great opportunity for the students to be part of something bigger,” art teacher Jennifer Dallow said. “They enjoyed creating small works and can now see how they all come together as one larger work of art.”

Dallow and fellow art teacher Karen Fontecchio received the disposable masks from the Village of Mamaroneck Arts Council and challenged the students to get creative with their designs. Drawing upon their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the students used acrylic paint or Sharpie markers for their designs.

“The variety of images is a culmination of our students’ talent and personal expression,” Dallow said. “We were so honored to be part of this community project, and it is a perfect way to end 2020.”

COVID Testing Update - December 11th

Please click HERE to read the COVID testing update.