Category Archives: The Arts

Richmond the Turtle Finds His New Home

If you’ve walked past Alumni Hall during these past couple of months, you may have noticed a new addition to our campus. Once displayed in the Staten Island Children’s Museum, a vibrant colored turtle statue is now proudly displayed in front of Alumni Hall. You may also be asking yourself what a turtle has to do with Staten Island Academy, as our mascot is a tiger. The turtle, affectionately named Richmond, embodies much of what Staten Island Academy believes in.

Designed by Margot O’Brien Higgins, an alumna from the Class of 1983, Richmond was originally part of a contest. Earlier this year, the Richmond County Savings Bank hosted an art competition, in which sketches of animals were submitted for a chance to bring said sketch to life on a statue. Margot chose to enter a sea turtle sketch out of her love for the reptilian species. Once her piece was selected, R.C.S.B shipped in a white turtle statue, and left Margot to her creative ways. Margot adorned Richmond with vibrant colors, like green, blue, and purple. On his shell, you can see a variety of beautiful paintings, all displaying iconic places on Staten Island. The name Richmond came from Margot herself, as a fitting name to represent Staten Island.

Richmond the Turtle

After Richmond was completed, he was put into an auction as part of the contest’s fundraiser. Margot wanted Richmond to go somewhere special, where he would be appreciated, and what better place than Staten Island Academy? Margot got in contact with her fellow classmate, Mrs.Crane, and asked if the school would like to become the home for Richmond, and SIA was right on board. “In a school over 130 years old, our alumni base is one of the most important resources that we have, because they help to tell our history and keep us connected as our world changes around us.”

Margot always had an interest in the arts. During her time at Staten Island Academy, she engaged in many of the artistic opportunities offered. After graduating, she went on to become an illustration major in college. Ever since graduating art school, she has been creating and teaching art. Both of her daughters are artists. Margot’s passion for the arts is truly unmatched. A representation of everything that makes Staten Island unique, and an embodiment of Academy spirit, Richmond is our campus’ new prized possession. Next time you’re walking past Alumni Hall, be sure to take a look at Richmond, as he truly is a sight to see.

Heather W. ’21

A Sign of Things to Come

Staten Island Academy is highly regarded for its progressive and unique curriculum. Striving to teach subjects that are often considered out of the mainstream, yet an equally important part of a child’s education, the expansion of the ASL (American Sign Language) program in the Lower School reflects a desire to be inclusive and the development of a wider range of learning.

While some people approach ASL as an interesting challenge, others must incorporate it in their daily life. Mrs. Rifi, Kindergarten teacher, ASL teacher and parent of three SIA students, was born into a family with two deaf parents. Sign language was her first language. She believes that teaching children ASL as young as three or four years old “is very beneficial to them, helping them express themselves in different ways.” She tells her young students that instead of acting out, to use sign language to communicate, “I am mad.” Another benefit to teaching children ASL at a young age is helping them speak out when they are scared to do so verbally.

Learning ASL – even at a beginner level – enables students to develop the skills to communicate with people who do not use spoken word, and to reflect on one’s own life. Mrs. Rifi’s efforts, and the success of the program altogether, have prompted the hiring of a full-time ASL teacher, Aurelia Casey. Now taught throughout the Lower School, young students are able to connect with those that they otherwise would not be able to. Through this more interactive approach to learning, lower school students can take the knowledge they have accumulated and apply it outside of the classroom, communicate with others in a new way, and laugh while doing it!

Olivia D. ’22 and Olivia L. ’21

Varsity Cross Country

You may have seen a group of sweaty kids running laps around the soccer field or the campus. Have you ever won was SIA’s legendary Cross Country Team in action. This year, we were led by fearless captain Sam T. ‘19 and cross country enthusiast Ethan P. ’20 (yes, that is me). Though our Tigers didn’t win first place, they didn’t go home with their heads drowned in defeat. Our Tigers went home in triumph, having made major accomplishments this season. Through hard work and dedication (from most), each team member crossed the finish line at least five minutes less than they did for their first meet. From wearing short shorts to wondering if Gio and David were lost or kidnapped, our Cross Country Team bonded over many memorable experiences. Though the team will have to part with their captain since college is taking her away, they will carry on her legacy and continue sprinting across that finish line in Van Cortlandt Park.
Ethan P. ‘20