October 1, 2021
Dear Chappaqua Central School District Community,
I hope this first edition of What's Happening In Chappaqua's Schools finds you and your family doing well. As you know, September 1st marked the return of all students and staff to campus for in-person instruction, and I want to thank you for your partnership in successfully and safely navigating these first few weeks of instruction. With so much excitement, energy and laughter filling our classrooms and hallways, I was quickly reminded of how special Chappaqua is and how many rich opportunities exist for learning and growth. Needless to say, I am excited about what this school year has in store for our school community.
The month of September included the opening of our new STEAM Center at Greeley, and the opportunity to meet so many of our families at both the Town of New Castle Community Day and the Diversity Family Welcome gathering hosted by the Chappaqua PTA's Diversity, Race & Belonging Committee. We are well into a terrific fall sports season and we have successfully conducted our virtual open house nights.
September also saw the launch of our CCSD Covid Testing Management System enabling us to test staff, athletes and students in accordance with NYSDOH mandates and to keep our #WeAreChappaqua community safe.
I also want to thank all of our partners in education who continue to meet, plan and hold events and activities that provide a real sense of regularity and familiarity for our students. With this in mind, we look forward to seeing many of you at the Homecoming Kick Off Event sponsored by the Greeley Sports Boosters. Also please be sure to mark your calendars for our upcoming Welcome Back Principal Coffees.
Chappaqua is a safe and compassionate community in which students are empowered to think critically and creatively while also feeling seen and valued. Please take a moment to read about a few highlights from our first few weeks of the 2021-22 school year.
Christine Ackerman, PhD
Superintendent of Schools
Greeley Spotlight ~ Peer Leadership
The Peer Leadership program, now in its 40th year, plays a pivotal role in helping the incoming freshmen class of 283 students become acclimated to high school so that they may take full advantage of all that Greeley has to offer.
As part of the rigorous application and selection process, a group of approximately 25 juniors and seniors were identified to serve as peer leaders to join the 25 peer leaders from the previous year. At the end of the summer, they participated in a two-day training session with focus on team-building and bonding activities. They also were trained in developing strategies for successfully communicating, group facilitation, and interacting with the first-year students in a mentoring capacity, and developed ways to help the incoming 9th graders build relationships with each other and their peer leaders.
Once school begins, the co-chairs of the program are tasked with creating a syllabus and lesson plans for peer leaders to utilize during their weekly meetings with their group of 10-13 peer kids. The co-chairs also provide the peer leaders with the techniques needed to present the topics and engage with their group. A typical group meeting starts with a brief introduction followed by an ice-breaker activity to get conversation flowing. Then, an interactive activity to that week's topic and lesson takes place, followed by an independent reflection and group debrief. As the school year evolves, peer groups will cover a multitude of topics, from stress and time management to LGBTQ+ inclusion, from peer pressure to conflict resolution. And on occasion the peer leaders and peer kids play games, conduct individual check-ins to ensure that each 9th-grader's HG experience is going well, and look to bond and create lasting memories.
This year the peer leaders are delighted to be back in person, working closely with their 9th-grade students. When students help fellow students, anything is possible!
Eighth-grade mathematicians at SB engage in some math play with hexagon loops as they find patterns, make generalizations and then post relational expressions.
Outdoor instrumental class at DG! These musicians are working on breathing, embouchure formation and tone/sound production.
At HG, forensic scientists arrived on the scene, made observations, took pictures of all the evidence, and then measured (triangulated) from corners of the room before sketching the scene to scale.
Third-grade authors at RB are using quick sketch/keyword organizers to begin drafting paragraphs for their true stories.
Mood Meter check-in during Advisory at BS while talking about our monthly theme of Community.
How does WO ensure that students feel seen, heard and valued? By reciting the WO Promise in languages that our students speak.
Town of New Castle Form Based Code Update
On September 18, 2021, the Chappaqua Central School District sent a letter to the Town Board requesting that the Town Board postpone its current plan to accept as complete the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) at a September 30, 2021 meeting. The CCSD requested a three week postponement in order to have sufficient time to respond to the Town Board's comments on the GEIS sections most relevant to the School District, which were not released to the public until September 17, 2021.
The CCSD's request for additional time to respond was denied, and therefore we sent a subsequent letter to the Town Board on September 29, 2021 expressing our concerns and requests for further analysis and mitigation measures.
The Town Board did not directly respond to our letter, but on the evening of September 29th, it sent out a community email alert that the 9/30 meeting was being rescheduled for October 5, 2021. The District has confirmed that this meeting has in fact been rescheduled as set forth on the Town of New Castle website.
While we welcome feedback from our community on all CCSD-related matters, at this time, any further comments related to the FBC or the DGEIS/FGEIS should be directed to the Town Board.
You can also review all CCSD correspondences to the Town Board during the FBC process here.
Bell / Seven Bridges Spotlight ~ Cross Country Track
History was made on September 24th when the first-ever modified cross country event was held at Seven Bridges Middle School.
Having been at 7B a few times, Geoff Curtis, the District's new Athletic Director, began to think about how we could host cross country events across the campus. "With 7B's great setting with the amphitheater built into the side of the hill, we quickly realized that spot would be a great spectator section, allowing families and fans to view the majority of the race -- the start, most of the middle, and the inspiring finish," Geoff explained.
After a few more site visits, the work of building and designing a course took place. While some fine-tune adjustments may be made for future events, the District has been able to create a near-optimal experience for our young runners and their families.
We are hopeful that the reputation of the MOD XC course at 7B - and its new course record of 8:04:39 held by Ryan Sykes (BS) - are things that future teams will get to utilize and pursue for years to come!
Grafflin Spotlight ~ The Greenhouse
The Grafflin Greenhouse opened in 1979 and was constructed using rigid acrylic panels reinforced with fiberglass, which are supported by an aluminum frame. The heated greenhouse has been used to protect plants through the winter, grow hydroponics crops such as lettuce and cucumbers year-round, and start seeds in the early spring for children to plant in the garden. However, during the last 39 years, the acrylic panels have begun to deteriorate preventing the transmission of sunlight into the greenhouse.
Thanks to the Grafflin Greenhouse Architecture and Curriculum Expansion grant from the Chappaqua School Foundation, the Grafflin Greenhouse can reopen and provide a place where elementary teachers and PTA volunteers from all three schools could teach environmental sustainability and help students understand and improve their relationship with nature.
The current Grafflin Greenhouse has a 600+ square foot organic garden with 24 raised beds, in which students plant and grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers every year. This outdoor classroom is an invaluable resource for the Grafflin community as the greenhouse program focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles, academic achievement, and environmental stewardship, as well as building community.
Lessons taught by PTA volunteers and teachers provide hands-on gardening activities such as digging, planting, weeding, and watering. Students are also provided the opportunity to taste vegetables from the garden while learning about basic nutrition and the origin of foods. The facilitators also teach about life science, which includes basic botany and ecology in a "living laboratory."
Science lessons in the Grafflin Garden provide opportunities for direct observation of concepts in biology and ecology, the use of the scientific method to develop and test hypotheses, and experiencing the cycle of nature throughout the seasons. Learning in the garden also allows for cross-discipline collaboration with other subjects such as math, literature, and art.
A well-functioning greenhouse will immediately enhance instruction and opportunities for student engagement in existing STEAM and Science 21 units. Elementary students would easily transition to the middle schools with a gardening foundation built upon using their gardens culminating at Greeley with the new Sustainability Research Center currently under construction. #GrowWithGrafflin.
UPDATE ~ Antiracism and Social Justice Education in Our School Community Student and Family Surveys
The Chappaqua Central School District is a community of learners who demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for continual growth in all aspects of education. Our community values equity, celebrates inclusivity and promotes social justice.
To support our work in antiracism and social justice education, the District has partnered with Insight Education Group to identify ways to ensure that our programs, practices and outcomes are more equitable for all students. The first step in their work with our District has been to conduct an equity audit. In addition to reviewing current data, meeting with key focus groups and soliciting anonymous feedback from our staff, they conducted anonymous surveys to gather the thoughts, beliefs and experiences of our families and students in Grades 5-12 to further inform this work.
The data from the equity audit, including the results of the various surveys, will be shared by Insight Education Group at a future Board of Education meeting.
Chappaqua Continuing Education
Fall 2021 Hybrid Program - Registration Is Open
"Try to learn something about everything and everything about something." ~ Thomas Huxley
For over 40 years, the Chappaqua Continuing Education program offered through the Chappaqua Central School District has provided enriching courses for residents of Chappaqua and the surrounding communities who are 18 or older.
We are happy to announce that CCE has an exciting line-up for the fall. Our program will be a hybrid of in-person classes, which will meet at Horace Greeley High School (unless otherwise noted), and online classes via Zoom, which can be taken from the comfort of your home! We have added many new and interesting classes to the fall schedule while continuing many of the favorites from years past.
- Register early to ensure your spot
- Many classes sell out
- Plenty of one-day classes
- We do cancel classes for lack of enrollment, so don't delay in expressing your interest.
Please visit www.chappaquaschools.org/cce for course descriptions and to register, or call 238-7201 ex. 2318.
CCSD COVID Testing Management System
With a Limited Lab Site License, our nursing staff has the ability to administer the BinaxNOW Ag Card, the Chappaqua Central School District is pleased to offer weekly COVID-19 testing onsite for our staff and students.
Please visit the CCSD COVID Testing Management System webpage for weekly testing schedules and appointment links for unvaccinated staff and student-athletes (testing for K-12 unvaccinated students - who are not student-athletes - is available and optional). You may also find information regarding the process for unvaccinated staff and student-athletes who may qualify for an exemption from weekly testing.
For additional information, you can view the District-hosted webinar that was held on 9/22, explaining our CCSD CTMS and testing program.
CCSD 2021-22 Continuity of Learning Plan
At the end of August, the District released the updated 2021-2022 Continuity of Learning Plan. This year's plan is based on guidance from various health agencies and our own lived experience.
In our plan, we outline both our learning approach and our safety practices, which are directly aligned with the guidance provided by New York State, the New York State Education Department, the New York State Department of Health, the Westchester County Department of Health and the New York State High School Athletic Association.
This is a living document and adjustments will be made as additional guidance is released, information evolves and procedures are affirmed.