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Bronxville Union Free School District

Performance Coach Enhances Students’ Strengths for National History Day

Bronxville High School freshmen and sophomores, who have been conducting extensive historical research for several months, recently worked with renowned performance coach Karen De Mauro to prepare for their schoolwide National History Day competition, to be held on Feb. 1 from 2-4 p.m.

Thanks to a grant from the Bronxville School Foundation, De Mauro – artistic director and founder of The Acting Center in New York City – worked with the students for two days to provide them with individualized strategies and targeted feedback to help enhance their presentation skills.

“The students responded overwhelmingly positively and said they felt less nervous after Karen gave them strategies to manage public speaking; everything from the way they engage the audience, to how they occupy space in the room, make eye contact, anchor themselves and stand at the podium,” social studies teacher Christina Reidel said. “She was positive and skillful in recognizing every students’ strengths and they felt really supported.”

Through their work with De Mauro, the students honed on their delivery, focus and vocal variety skills, as well as phrasing and body positioning. They also practiced how to make an entrance during a presentation in order to make a good first impression. De Mauro assured the students that it’s all right to be nervous because it shows that they care about their audience.

"Getting advice from a performance coach was really helpful and I appreciated that she didn't try to change us as presenters, but brought out our strengths,” said sophomore Marina Alfano, who is creating an animal rights movement website.

This year’s National History Day theme is “Taking a Stand” and students will display their authentic work in one of five ways – website, documentary, paper, performance or exhibit. As part of their research, which allows them to further explore their interest in a specific topic, many of them would contact experts in the field, analyze the evidence and data they’re collecting and develop theses that address the National History Day theme.

They will then articulate what they’ve discovered through their historical research during the schoolwide competition, where three individual and three group winners from each of the five categories will advance to the regional competition. De Mauro will return to the district to continue her work with the selected winners for the next round of the national competition.

  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image