HomeHealthMedicineMuch to Share 30 Years After Graduation from Scarsdale High School

Much to Share 30 Years After Graduation from Scarsdale High School

Much to share 30 years after graduating from Scarsdale High School

Peter Yaverbaum, Jacob Appel, Allison Weinberg, Howard Gertler, Peter Grosz and Adriana Souza from the 1992 SHS classThough it’s been 30 years since they graduated from high school, members of the SHS Class of ’92 seemed to pick up where they left off during a panel discussion Saturday, November 19, 2022 at the new Scarsdale Library, led by class member Allison Weinberg.

In introducing the panelists, she noted that she has known one since birth, three since kindergarten, and one since high school. She said: “It would be cliché, yet perfectly accurate, to say that the 30 years since we graduated from SHS have flown by. And yet somewhere along the way we have gone from children to adults, and many of us now have children of our own high school.”

Howard Gertler is an Oscar and Emmy-nominated film producer whose most recent film, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, is currently in theaters. Among his other films are Shortbus, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Crip Camp, and How to Survive a Plague. His films have won the Gotham, the Spirit, the Golden Lion, the Sundance Audience Award, the IDA, and two Peabodies.

Peter Grosz was one of two very funny guys in the Sonic commercials for most of the last twenty years. He began his comedic acting career in 7th grade, when he won the Scarsdale Junior High School Speech Contest in the “humorous anecdote” category, and went on to present a hilarious skit about riding the school bus to the entire student body. Since then, Peter has become a prolific television writer and actor, winning multiple Emmys for his work. He was a writer for both The Colbert Report and The Late Show with Seth Meyer, and had a recurring role on Veep.

After a long career in the corporate world, Adriana Souza is now building a foundation to support underprivileged youth in Africa by providing them with financial assistance, as well as access to athletic equipment, clothing, seasoned tennis coaches and training programs. Adriana is a volunteer EMT with the Scarsdale Ambulance Corps. In addition, during the height of the pandemic, she worked on the “front lines” as a COVID-19 vaccinator, administering vaccines to thousands of New Yorkers.

Although Peter Yaverbaum went to medical school after 9/11, he felt pulled in a different direction and signed on with the New York City Fire Department, where he has been a firefighter in Lower Manhattan for 15 years. In his current position, he drives the fire truck in the SoHo/Little Italy/Chinatown neighborhoods. He says “he’s so old he’s at the age now where he can wait on the street and send the younger guys in and actually fight the fires.” In the winter, Peter is also a part-time ski instructor in Colorado.

Jacob Appel is currently a professor of psychiatry and medical education at Mount Sinai, where he is also director of ethical education in psychiatry, medical director of the mental health clinic of the East Harlem Health Outreach Program, and deputy director of the Academy for Medicine and the Humanities. Jacob is also the author of five novels, ten collections of short stories, one collection of essays, one mystery, one thriller, one collection of poetry, and a compendium of dilemmas in medical ethics. Before joining Mount Sinai, Jacob taught at Brown University and Yeshiva College.

When asked about their most salient memories, Jacob Appel recalled throwing a flagpole out of a third-floor window when teacher Howard Rodstein turned his back.

Peter Grosz was in a study room with math teacher Barbara Bierbauer when he decided to demonstrate some pyrotechnics, which eventually got him suspended from school. He was carrying a can of Rite Guard and a lighter – used together could set off the fire alarm. He sprayed some Rite Guard on his desk, lit the lighter, and when the teacher came back to the room, she saw that the desk was on fire! He remembers spending some time with Mr. McDermott in ‘the tower’. Grosz’s mother was in the audience and confirmed the story, which now seemed funnier to her.

When asked about their favorite teachers, Souza noted Rashid Silvera, who called him “an enthusiastic and dynamic guy who met every student where they were, even customizing lesson plans for students.” She said he still attends every reunion.

Howard Gertler recalled working on Maroon with consultant Chris Douglass, a longtime head of the English department at SHS.

When asked what advice they would give young people who are just starting out, Peter Yaverbaum said: “Everything was because I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Keep doing things you love – and you will find opportunities.”

Grosz said, “I discovered improv comedy at Northwestern — and lucked out at Second City where I took classes. I tell people to go to the place where people do what you want to do.
Put yourself where you belong and keep trying.”

Jacob Appel admitted: ‘I wrote a lot. I have 21,000 rejection letters. George Plimpton of the Paris Reviewed once called me and said, “You sent us a story about birdwatching. We didn’t like it, but we love that people your age are interested in birdwatching.” Appel continues: “I’m still waiting for my big break. I brought a bag of signed books. Anyone know Oprah?”

Souza added: “You are going to miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take. If you are too afraid of being rejected, nothing will work out for you.”

Asked how growing up in Scarsdale affected their futures, panelists first joked that no one ever admits to growing up in Scarsdale, saying “Westchester” instead. However, Grosz said, “There is a lot of money and privilege here. But there is a lot of opportunity. It’s net positive.” Souza noted the great network of successful people in every field. She said, “I’ve never met a group that has stayed so connected to their friends as Scarsdale alumni. People work in so many industries – there is always someone to call.

The event continued Saturday night with a gathering at the North Street Tavern in White Plains.

Photo by Danielle Barro.

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