Superstorm Sandy left physical wreckage and emotional damage in its wake last year. As our neighborhood came together to commemorate the solidarity of our community in the storm’s aftermath, Bnos Bais Yaakov looked for ways to involve its students in post-Sandy recollections in academic venues as well.
Mrs. S. Koenig (general studies principal, grades 5–8) and Miss D. Kurland (general studies principal, grades 1–4) joined forces to create the “Dancing in the Rain” writing contest. The students were introduced to the poignant quote, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” The girls were asked to use that thought as a starting point for their literary submissions. Children who were directly affected by the storm wrote in heart-wrenching terms about the loss of their toys, their clothes, and their sense of security. They described their fear, their parents’ stoicism, and their families’ difficulties in maintaining any kind of normal routine. But most inspiring was the way many of the articles ended. The girls inevitably concluded with feelings of hakaras hatov to those who helped their families and recognition of chasdei Hashem even in the worst of times. The staff members who read these articles were deeply touched by the emunah and positive feelings that the storm was unable to squelch in their talmidos.
Momentum and enthusiasm for the contest reached such a crescendo that even some staff members got swept along and decided to submit their own essays or poems. “Dancing in the Rain” stickers and pens were handed out and BBY was “off and writing”!
Requirements for each grade’s submissions were based on the writing skill that they were currently working on with their English teachers. Articles and/or poems were handed in to the panel of judges, Dr. Golda Gross (general studies curriculum coordinator, grades 4-8), Dr. Joyce Nissel (writing specialist), and Mrs. Malka Wender (general studies curriculum coordinator, grades 1-3). Awards were announced at a special assembly held on Wednesday, November 13.
The contest winners for grades 1–4 were
First grade. Devorah Speiser, Chana Roth, Mitzi Kopelowitz, and Chedva Fagin
Second grade. Esther Lawrence, Ariella Bauman, and Rivka Bald
Third grade. Aviva Rosenfeld, Rena Halpern, and Racheli Hertzka
Fourth grade. Tova Munk, Shaindy Reidel, and Ahuva Neuman
Grade Winners: (1st) Esty Rutner, (2nd) Sheva Schiff, (3rd) Meira Werner, (4th) Shana Brecher, and (3rd and 4th division) Tzirel Sandler.
Also present at Wednesday’s assembly was Mrs. Etka Gittel Schwartz. Mrs. Schwartz is the author of Full Harvest and Shortchanged, and is a frequent contributor to Binah Magazine. The BBY girls were captivated by Mrs. Schwartz’s passion for her craft and the way she so beautifully synthesizes her Torah lifestyle with her career as a writer.
Despite all that they lost in the storm, it was wonderful to see that the girls have all moved forward and can view Superstorm Sandy from a healthy perspective. v