Upper School Art Students Prepare for Exhibition

Ms. Michelle Statella, Middle and Upper School Art Teacher

Artists know that art must be experienced in person to truly get a sense of its magnitude. That is one of the many reasons why it is so important for artists to have opportunities to showcase their work. YCDS students are preparing to do just this. Students in upper school Studio Art classes have been busy creating, refining, and preparing work for the York Community Art Scholars Exhibition (YCASE), coordinated through York College of Pennsylvania.

The two-part art show, designed exclusively for high school students in York, is open to freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Selected artwork from each of the participating schools is exhibited throughout downtown York’s arts district, all within walking distance of each other. YCDS art students took part in YCASE’s pilot year in 2016 and are excited to contribute to the exhibition once again.

The exhibition provides support and encouragement to students interested in art and introduces them to professional practices in art. Students whose work is selected for inclusion in the exhibition must adhere to a deadline and learn to properly prepare their work for installation. Additionally, the opportunity to meet and network with other artists and professionals, not only gives students a sense of community, but also allows them to see art taken seriously.


Exhibition Details
The Art Walk
October 19-21
Selected artworks from each of the participating high schools will be shown in multiple locations throughout downtown York’s arts district. YCDS art students will have their work on display at Isaacs on the Fly, 58 W. Market St. Each location will be open throughout the day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Receptions held at each venue will be held on October 21 from 10 AM-1PM with guided Art Walk tours leaving from Marketview Arts at 37 W. Philadelphia St.

The Finalist Exhibition
November 2-11
Artwork selected by professional jurors from the Art Walk Exhibitions will be displayed in Gallery Hall at Marketview Arts. Awards will be presented at the Family & Friends Reception on November 2 from 6-8 PM.

Students Participating
Roth Woolley
Gary Zhang
Juliet Jacob
Sara Lamb
Quenelle McKim


Theatre students explore the craft of technical theatre

By Ms. Paige Hoke

Shakespeare wrote that “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” but who creates the stage? Who creates all the things with which players interact?  In theatre, we affectionately call these individuals “techies.”

This year, we are running an exciting class at YCDS called “Stagecraft.” This class explores all the technical elements of theatre: set, costumes, props, lights, sound, and stage management.

One of our areas of focus this year is scenic design and construction. The classes began by creating a scenic design for a short play. The students’ ideas were flowing, and every student had a different, creative and viable design. My favorite part of theatre is the element of collaboration, and the students worked together to share ideas to create a strong set design.

After students learned about scenic design, they applied these skills. Not only are these students learning about the elements of technical theatre, but they are also helping to build and create all the technical elements for the three theatrical productions at YCDS this year.

The students in stagecraft are building the set for our first show of the year, Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. Our first task was to construct large blocks to be used as seating. The students painted the blocks using a scenic painting technique to make them resemble stone. I enjoy seeing the students’ pride as they create something with their own hands. One student said during this process, “I feel like this box is my baby. I can’t wait to see it on stage!” In addition to the set, the students are helping prepare the costumes for the upcoming play. As we get closer to the show, they will also have an opportunity to program the light board and work on sound effects. During the show itself, the stagecraft students will help to work behind the scenes as part of run crew, costume crew, tech crew or as a stage manager.  


It is wonderful to see students create things and get excited about what they are contributing to our shows. The best part is that all these skills can be used outside of the theatre. Students will know how to fix that loose screw, hem their pants, or sew on a button! Ever tried to assemble a piece of furniture and been totally confused? These students will have quite a head start!
“The Crucible” runs November 2, 3, and 4th at 7 PM. You can purchase tickets at the performances or online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-crucible-tickets-38012262701

YCDS Students Recognized by the Rotary Club of York

Tess Murphy’19 and Jagr Krtanjek’19 were recognized this week by the Rotary Club of York as Students of the Month. Both students spoke to the organization’s membership about transformative experiences in their own lives. Below are the speeches they presented.


Tess Murphy

Good Afternoon. My name is Tess Murphy. I am very honored to have the opportunity of speaking to you all today. As I stand in front of you today, I look like a typical high school junior, don’t I? But I am anything but typical. I suffer from a chronic, intractable malfunction of my autonomic nervous system, which renders my heart and circulatory system unable to regulate itself. This condition is incurable and often strikes during adolescence. When I was diagnosed three years ago, I was barely able to stand up on my own without my heart racing out of control and blacking out. Most days, I was unable to attend school, and in the eighth grade, eventually became homebound. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of walking through the doors of high school on my very first day of ninth grade. That dream was stolen from me by illness. I had to enroll in cyber school and took many of my classes from bed.

As a teenager, you are expected to have boundless energy to learn, grow, participate in extracurricular activities, and prepare for college. Suddenly, I was incapable of those things. I had to learn how to balance schoolwork and my health.

After two years of working closely with my cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I began to stabilize and was able to have a fresh start last year as a tenth-grader at York Country Day School. They welcomed me with open arms and made every effort to accommodate my medical condition. York Country Day allowed me to find my feet and flourish both academically and socially. For the first time in two years, I felt like Tess. Not Tess with the debilitating medical condition or Tess the girl who could never come to school. I was just Tess. I felt like part of the community. I made new friends, and even got to play on the tennis team.

The partnership I have with my cardiologist inspired my family and me to start a research fund at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to find better treatments and a cure for my heart condition. To date, we have raised $50,000. My experience has been transformative. Rather than let my illness define me, I decided to take charge and be an advocate for other teenagers like me. Volunteering and speaking at the Dysautonomia International Conference in Washington, D.C., this past summer gave me a platform to help others. I have certainly come a long way since I was diagnosed. It is a victory and an honor for me to be able to stand here today. Thank You.


Jagr Krtanjek

It is a great honor to be speaking to everyone here today. Firstly, I would like to thank the faculty and administration of York Country Day School for selecting me to represent my school. I have been a student at YCDS since pre-school, and if you were to ask my peers and teachers about me, it probably wouldn’t be long before robotics was mentioned. Robotics is a huge part of my life. Starting when I was 10 years old, I participated on Lego robotics teams. My enthusiasm for Lego Robotics caught the attention of my middle school science teacher, and I am so grateful that Mrs. Charleston asked me to help start First Lego League at York Country Day School when I was in seventh grade.

Since that time, dozens of York Country Day School students have participated in the program and gained valuable skills. This enthusiasm for robotics grew and in eighth grade I was a proud founding member of the GearHounds, our resident high school robotics team at York Country Day School; the first of only two high school FTC teams in York.

In addition to robotics at school I am entering my fifth year participating on FRC team 225 TechFire, York’s award-winning community robotics team. These teams are part of the worldwide organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which has a motto “More than Robots.” While my primary contributions to these teams have been mechanical design, programming, and CADing robots, this experience has also allowed me to hone many more skills and to share my experience with others. These include practice in public speaking, teamwork and collaboration, and meeting objectives within financial and time constraints.

Through school, I discovered I enjoy graphic design and am proud to have designed pieces for theater productions and TechFire’s team banner, the robot logo, and promotional giveaways this past season. It has been humbling to see something I created be enjoyed by my classmates and by robotics teams from around the world. Off the field of competition, as a member of the GearHounds and TechFire, I have been able to give back to others by helping younger students on FIRST Lego League teams learn programming and to be prepared for competitions. I have also been able to give back by participating in blanket drives, distributing gifts at the holidays, and collecting school supplies, books and canned food to support the local communities here and where we compete.

I recognize that I could not do all these activities without the generosity of many contributors that afford me these opportunities. While many are direct connections, such as my teachers, my mentors, and my family, there are others like Professor Giorgioni of Penn State York, who volunteered his time to teach CAD to our team, and Mr. Jim Anderson of Coupling Corporation, who generously provides the space for TechFire to design and build award-winning robots. I am grateful to all the people who have helped me get to where I am today. Though I haven’t fully defined my career path yet, I know my experiences being part of these robotics teams have equipped me to face whatever challenges I will meet. I am grateful for the generosity and support of many people and organizations in the York community for giving me and other students these valuable experiences.



York Country Day Faculty Embrace Pedagogical Prowess

By Mr. Matthew Trump, Dean of Faculty and Upper School Science Teacher

Every community member at York Country Day is engaged in perpetual learning. Whether the constituent is a student investigating Shakespeare or an athletic trainer exploring the latest in physiological peak performance, we all strive to remain current in our fields. Faculty embody the role of chief learner in their classes with respect to their course content. However, they also continually seek to improve their pedagogy (def. the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept). One of the primary practices YCDS faculty are using to address this metacognitive approach to their teaching is to have a fellow community member observe their teaching and engage in subsequent productive discourse. Country Day administrators have had training over the past two years regarding the latest in effective teacher observation strategies. By utilizing best practices, faculty and administration are connecting in fruitful conversations about pedagogy. It is through processes like this that our school is striving to have unparalleled effectiveness not only in our facilities but also in our program as we embark to embrace rigor and delight in the pursuit of learning.

Administrators tract faculty observations using a scheduling board that shows when observations occurred and who completed each observation.

Guided By Students: Initial Thoughts on the Introduction of Upper School Peer Mediation at YCDS

By Mrs. Molly Wertz, Dean of Students and Middle and Upper School English Teacher

There are many times during the course of a week that adults in the school are called to help students navigate situations. We help new students navigate their schedules, help 6th graders learn to advocate for themselves with their teachers, help students balance classwork and extracurriculars.  This is a cherished part of the role of a teacher in our school.

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, however, a teacher is not always the best first responder. Students are often able to be more open and honest when speaking with peers rather than adults.

This is where peer mediation enters the picture. Peer mediation allows trained student mediators to help peers work together to resolve conflict and come up with a mutually satisfying resolution. Through a generous gift from Suzanna Anstine Norbeck ‘57, YCDS was able to bring in Richard Cohen, of School Mediation Associates, Watertown, Mass., to train nine students, grades 9-12, to be our first class of peer mediators.

The process to identify our mediators was quite competitive and highlighted the incredible leadership and caliber of a YCDS student. In the end, we found the students who best fit our need.The peer mediators for the 2017-18 school year are: Harrison Zumbrun, Jalen Gorham, Michelle Guo, Ethan Yerg, Abbey Miller, Kaylee Mustard, Trinity Jackson, Nakayla Knight, and Alex Wagonheim.

For three days last week, these students, along with Mr. Eric Fleming and myself, participated in thorough and intensive training that included active listening, removing personal bias, eliciting open and healthy  communication, honoring confidentiality, helping peers move from competitive conflict resolution to collaborative conflict resolution, and role playing… lots and lots of role playing.


The mediators will lead students who come to mediation to navigate the twist and turns of relationships with classmates, gain empathy and understanding, and come up with a win-win resolution. The mediators do not offer advice or make judgements, but rather, they guide the parties to greater understanding and empathy. The mediators will help students understand what is at the heart of the conflict; therefore, the overwhelming majority of conflicts result in a lasting resolution. Following the training, Kaylee observed that, “Peer mediation allows students to resolve conflicts before they escalate.”

Additionally, our mediators learned life-long skills that will not only make them effective mediators for conflicts among classmates but will also help them throughout their personal life.  Jalen reflected that, “Anywhere in life, it  helps your social skills, whether it be a job interview or future relationships. It’s opened up my mind to new skills”

We are proud to be able to offer peer mediation to our student body. Peer mediation programs can be transformative to a school. “Peer mediation opens us up to a new way of trying to solve a conflict rather than just giving someone an infraction. This will really solve conflicts in a mutually beneficial way,” says Harrison. “The addition of peer mediation will help grow our community into a stronger YCDS Greyhound family,” says Abbey.


And that is what YCDS is all about: cultivating a culture that supports individuality, nurtures growth, demands respect, and empowers our students with the skills of cooperation, empathy, and restorative resolutions. Peer mediation is one more way that we strive to meet the needs of our students and support the mission of our school. Eric Fleming and I are proud to be a part of this new program and to work with such dedicated students. This is just one more reason why I am YCDS PROUD.

College Visits in Action

By Mr. Jake Doll, Director of College Counseling and Asst. Head of the Upper School.

As I return from a week of college visits and conference time in Boston, MA, I am reminded of how important it can be to treat colleges and universities like the products they are. Would you buy a car without a test drive? Would you rent an apartment not knowing what it looked like inside or what the surrounding area was like? It is important to make an informed decision about the college or university you will be calling “home” for the four years after high school. The campus visit should be a fun and valuable way to learn about each institution.


I enjoyed touring campuses this past week. I visited MIT, Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, and Tufts. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • Did you know that MIT has over 40 designer/builder/maker spaces on campus? They are the equivalent to the area of 2.5 football fields!
  • Harvard isn’t just the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, but it also has the second largest library in the U.S. with four floors located underground.
  • I visited Boston University and Boston College on the same day. I was so excited to see BU’s contemporary feel, numerous programs, and accessibility to so much right nearby. BC was beautiful and had a true prestigious feel. Though BU’s undergraduate population is about twice the size of BC’s, both schools have similar admission rates at about 30%.
  • Northeastern was the perfect example of how a tour guide can make all the difference. My tour guide, Jack, was as knowledgeable as most admission officials and he knew how to tell his story and the stories of his peers. If you don’t know what a co-op program is, check out Northeastern’s. They have an excellent program.
  • While visiting Tufts, I heard an admission person say something that can help guide any student. When writing that important college essay, “just simply write the way you speak”. Being you is key, even to a small research institution with an admission rate of under 15%.

If I took one thing away from my recent visits in Boston, it is that even the most prestigious institutions value the liberal arts. It was evident that each institution provides opportunities to expand yourself beyond your passions, and the available resources for the schools I recently visited are enormous. The cool thing is, I learned this while immersing myself in the locale, people, transportation modes, sights, and FOOD. Staying near Chinatown and South Station proved to be very beneficial, and it was by design. I took the time to plan my visits and you should too!

Maclaurin Building

The importance of the literary canon

By Kristen Spangler, English Teacher


As I started gathering materials for what would become the first unit of the year in Honors English—a unit chiefly devoted to Beowulf—I came across an article published in Humanities magazine a few years ago, an article that reminded me that what I wanted to accomplish in this class was valid. Robert Yeager, a retired English professor at UNC Asheville, noted of Beowulf, “[I]ts poetry reaches, somehow like lightning, to the core of what we understand about ourselves stripped to basics, even amid the twentieth century world of central heating and computers.” Like Shakespeare’s plays after it, Beowulf is a largely thematic text that requires only a little historical knowledge to comprehend. True, it helps to understand the Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition, the role of kinship and the fact that England had been sacked so many times by the mid-800s that the idea of a Dane becoming its greatest hero didn’t faze the English. But Yeager’s words rang true with me: Beowulf spends his adult life practicing loyalty (for such is not as freely pledged as we may wish), battling evil and assuaging naysayers. And that, as we know, is what it means to be human.

Yeager also reminded me that Beowulf represents something that is frequently absent in contemporary fiction, a fiction that often requires one to be au fait with pop culture in order to ‘get it.’ Contemporary fiction is self-reverential despite its youth. It regards itself in the mirror and snaps a selfie without understanding the antique preciousness of a photo. That’s not to say that modern authors haven’t produced anything noteworthy; indeed, among my favourite writers in the world is Paul Auster, and I’ll read absolutely anything by Zadie Smith or Arundhati Roy. However, the literary canon—the classics, as it were—have at their hearts not only the essence of what it means to be human, but also what it means to be human in time periods where certain groups, certain beliefs, certain principles were devalued or dismissed. The classics are arms in a war against prejudice, artifice and resignation. They beg us to consider them in relation to their creation or setting and then make sense of the protagonist’s choices. At the same time, they are relatable, transferable, to our contemporary world, as those choices are as relevant today in a different context as they were hundreds of years prior. A reader doesn’t have that same abstraction with Ready, Player One or Falling Man.

So while I could’ve designed the Honors English course around the works of Zadie Smith, Martin Amis and Julian Barnes, all of whose work I admire and cherish, they need a few more decades—nay, centuries—to mature, to make their worthiness known. Although we might one day teleport to the grocery store and scan our palm prints to pay for goods, we will still be looking for heroes, wielding figurative swords against dragons and steeling ourselves against the evil around us. Perhaps then, Girl on the Train can sit comfortably on a syllabus next to Pride and Prejudice.