Although we are a school that is always thinking about how we can grow and evolve, we also feel that it is important to be rooted in tradition. There are several Upper School traditions we like to celebrate each year.
Throughout their time in the Upper School, Riverdale students will have the opportunity to participate in many off-campus trips. Students make use of their close proximity to New York City for outings that are several hours long, including visits to the Cloisters and afternoons seeing Broadway shows. We immerse students in hands-on experiences that extend their learning beyond the classroom. Many of our trips bring the curriculum to life and allow students to see the city as a classroom and natural extension of their on-campus learning experience at Riverdale. Our students know that applying lessons learned in the classroom to everyday situations in real life are the essence of a Riverdale education. They are able to spend each day studying in a special campus environment, but they quickly realize that our definition of the word campus is wide and varied. The above photo shows the Urban Studies class on a trip to Chinatown and the Financial District.
Homecoming is a day-long event, filled with athletic competitions, food, and fun activities for the whole family, culminating in the football game on the recently renovated Frank J. Bertino Memorial Field. Every reunion class has a special table during the festive barbeque lunch where they can meet and greet old friends. Tours of the school, class photos, children’s activities, performances, and exhibitions are also offered.
Community Action Day
Riverdale alumni, along with the RCS Alumni Office, initiated Community Action Day several years ago. It has grown into an annual event where more than 100 alumni and/or parent volunteers, along with many faculty and staff, give their time and energy to organize and run a full day of community service activities, attended by more than 500 members of the Riverdale Community. They work together to give back to our broader community in need.
One World Day
Periodically, it makes sense for the school to take time away from the regular schedule to focus on an issue of importance to our community through a special day known as One World Day. In recent years, students and faculty have come together to plan One World Days to consider complex concepts, such as Riverdale’s place and role in the Bronx and what it means to be a hero in a community. Students propose and contact speakers, such as Stephen Bradberry, an RFK Center for Human Rights Award winner for his work on behalf of the economic and social rights of those in New Orleans, post-Hurricane Katrina. The theme of One World Day for the 2014-2015 school year was Mindfulness and Mental Health and Wellness. Below, a yoga class.
While seniors are not required to give speeches, throughout the year, one or two seniors each week address their class and some faculty at Monday morning grade meeting. The topics tend to be personal and often focus on students’ time at Riverdale, issues of family, issues of identity, or social or political issues that resonate particularly with the speaker. Speeches provide a way for seniors to reflect at a time of their lives when reflection is both natural and important. They elicit a strong feeling of connection among the students in the grade. At the end of the year, Riverdale publishes a senior speeches anthology, a compilation of all the speeches given that year. For many, reading through this book is as an important end-of-year ritual as looking through the yearbook.
Jolli Humanitarian Award
The purpose of the Jolli Humanitarian Award is to recognize and honor outstanding citizens of the world, people who have inspired both individuals and the broader community. We aim to recognize people whose contributions have fostered social, political, environmental, or cultural equity, and who have done so against great odds.
Each year, members of the 10th grade enter a contest, writing an essay and making an oral presentation to their class, to name the next Jolli Humanitarian. Past honorees have included: Lenni Benson, a lawyer and founder of the Safe Passage Project; Dr. Melony Samuels, founder and executive director of the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger; Dr. Frank Mugisha, above, Ugandan gay-rights activist; Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Geoffrey Canada, president of the Harlem Children's Zone; Rachel Lloyd, the British anti-trafficking advocate and founder of Girls Educational and Mentoring Service; and Pernille Ironside, a lawyer and children's advocate for the United Nations in the Middle East. All of these recipients have come to campus to receive their awards and to inspire the student body with their words and ideas.
- Video of Jolli Humanitarian Award Assembly with Lenni Benson, Nov. 1, 2016
- Video of Jolli Humanitarian Award Assembly with Dr. Melony Samuels, Jan. 12, 2016
- Ugandan Activist: Gay Rights Are Human Rights, March 3, 2015
As the school year nears its close students showcase their talents by putting together an Upper School Talent Show. Acts include singers, musicians, actors, and dancers.