Outside the Classroom
The Karafin School offers a variety of activities and special events which enrich the school experience.
The Student Council
The student council was formed in 2004 by two students and, initially, functioned independently to organize school functions and service projects. Over the years this has changed and the student council now works with members of the faculty. Some of the events that have been organized include the Thanksgiving food drive, school spirit week, a Halloween costume contest, and a Valentine’s Day Dance. Student council members are expected to attend regular meetings where they are encouraged to voice their opinions and help prepare for the events.
The Faculty Council
The Faculty council was formed in 2004 to get staff together to generate ideas and to feel that they had a voice in the school. The Faculty Council has gone through many changes. At present it is not active. Currently its focus was almost entirely social, with an emphasis on developing social skills and a sense of belonging among the students. In earlier years the Faculty Council also sponsored some academic activities. For several years the Faculty Council worked with the Student Council to run a school store.
The College Fair
Planning for college is an important concern for juniors and seniors and the Karafin College Fair is designed to provide information to help with this. The College Fair began with an idea from two former staff members four years ago. Representatives from various colleges and universities visit the school to introduce students to their school and explain what it can offer them. They will also help students understand the services available to those with disabilities. Students come away with informative brochures and with plenty of food for thought.
The Wall of Fame
The Wall of Fame was an initiative of some of the teachers several years ago. It was planned as a way to acknowledge student achievement. Each quarter teachers are encouraged to nominate one of their students who has had a particularly successful quarter. Criteria of success are many: academic excellence, improved effort, improved behavior, and peer leadership are some of the qualities which have been celebrated. Ms. Luk works hard every quarter to create an attractive and eye catching display. At the end of the quarter students are given their display citations and parents are always informed of their child’s success.
The Karafin Yearbook is a great way for students and staff to look back at the school year and reminisce about time at Karafin. Every class is featured with a description written by a student in that class. School activities are celebrated in words and pictures and the graduating seniors are each given space to say their farewells. Regular production of the yearbook began in in 2002. Ms. Luk took over during the 2004-2005 school year. This was also the first year the yearbook was printed in color. The production of the yearbook is a very difficult process and extremely time consuming. A few of the most difficult tasks are organizing the photographs, finding the best ones to use and designing the layout in photoshop. The yearbook is generally welcomed by all and Ms. Luk has made it into a great way to look back on our school for years to come.
The Art Sale
The art sale allows students to express their artistic creativity while, at the same time, raising money for the school and for scholarships. Students, faculty and, sometimes, friends donate art and craft items which are then sold through a silent auction. The sale runs through two lunch periods. Bidding starts with an opening price and, at the end of the second day, the highest bidder wins the item.
The Talent Show
The talent show began in the 1990s as the inspiration of a former music teacher who wanted a way for musically talented students to be able to perform and be recognized. In 2006 Mr. Gartner became the music teacher and the new manager of the talent show. He takes great pride in the shows he has put together. For him, these shows give students a sense of accomplishment as well as a goal to be met. He states, “As years go on it (the show) is getting more talent. Every year I think, how can I top last year’s? When you have a show you strive to make it better.” The talent show is Karafin’s own definition of a school concert when the gym becomes a stage for a day. It has become part of Karafin history and is looked forward to every year.
The Karafin Composite
Students who are talented writers and artists have their own showcase. The Karafin Composite is the literary magazine of the Karafin School and features stories, poems, and articles written by the students. All the students are encouraged to submit their work and have the satisfaction of seeing it in print. The task of putting the magazine together with an attractive layout and editing it is undertaken by the writing class. It is always more challenging than they imagine. Each year a talented artist is invited to design an original cover.
The Chess Tournament
The chess tournament began several years ago at the request of some students. It usually attracts about a dozen participants and has a high of sixteen and a low of four. If there is a large number of participants, the tournament adopts a single elimination format, if there are few participants everyone plays everyone else in a round robin format and those with the highest point score advance. The tournament welcomes players of all skill levels but players must know the rules of chess. Prizes include money and chess related gifts donated by Dr. and Mrs. Donow. The tournament sometimes encourages students to go on playing on a recreational level after it is over.
Sports at Lunch
At lunch, Karafin students play a variety of sports including football, basketball, baseball, and four square. They must adapt to playing in a parking lot and, though this may be difficult, the students still manage to have fun. When the basketball hoop is up and outside students try to organize pick-up games ranging from 3 v. 3 to 7 v. 7. For the most part the games are played in a light hearted spirit. The gym teacher usually referees and has been known to turn a blind eye to blatant fouls or travels. Football is limited by the size and shape of the parking lot and the need for students to take account of the safety of others. The no tackling rule is an important safety measure, but someone always lands on the ground despite this. Sports at lunch help students to make new friends while staying active and getting fresh air.
Throughout the year, Karafin students can enjoy festive parties to celebrate holidays. On Halloween students are encouraged to take part in a costume contest. This is divided into categories and prizes are given for each category. The Holiday time in Karafin is the best. Everyone in the school is treated to pizza, donuts, and drinks by Dr. and Mrs. Donow. Mr. Gartner likes to organize a secular holiday concert to go along with the celebration. Other celebrations include a dance on St. Valentine’s Day and an outdoor picnic to end the year.
Many students look forward to Spirit Week which consists of five differently themed dress-up days including twin day and formal day. The week ends with the most popular event, pajama day when students can come to school in pajama pants and appropriate tops.
The school-wide picnic was held for the first time in 2013 and was very much enjoyed. Grills produced hot dogs and hamburgers with “all the fixings” and salads and desserts made for a special lunch. Games and sports were played after lunch and the year ended on a high note.
There is no greater celebration during the Karafin year that that of graduation when the seniors get to celebrate all their hard work. Originally this event was held at Monteverde at Oldstone in Cortlandt Manor. It was moved to the Holiday Inn in Mount Kisco several years ago. The seniors invite family members and others close to them to share the evening. During the ceremony the salutatorian, the valedictorian, and other students, speak to their fellows and their guests. Individual teachers present awards to students who have excelled in each of their classes and the climax of the evening is the distribution of diplomas to the graduating class. The evening, which also features dinner and dancing, ends with a well-earned celebration and the taking of many photographs.