Exclusive Extras!

Erin Melber
Visual Culture


How Placement on a Pedestal Camouflages the Patriarchal Agenda

A recurring theme in the history of man is a man’s need to be the most powerful, especially over women. Even in complimenting women, men exercise patriarchal dominancy. In the style of female fragmentation of the blazon, male characters objectifying women by praising their aesthetics seek to capture any power gap set by a powerful female character. By breaking the woman down into pieces of the whole, she is concurrently raised onto a pedestal as an object of adoration and torn down to an inferior individual.

In The Rape of Lucrece, Lucrece stands victim to the praises of her husband Collatine. Tarquin’s lust for Lucrece originates from Collatine’s accounts of her beauty, which defines her fate. Collatine describes Lucrece with the blazon, illustrating parts of her whole and transforming her to an inhuman object of affection. He describes her face saying, “Within whose face Beauty and Virtue strived / … When Virtue bragged, Beauty would blush for shame,” (Shakespeare, 52 & 54) her eyes “like two marigolds had sheathed their light, / And canopied in darkness sweetly lay,” (Shakespeare, 397-8) and her hair “like golden threads.” (Shakespeare, 400) Collatine uses the form of the blazon as an art of praise to his wife to describe to others his good fortune of his wife’s beauty. Coming from a place of love and adoration, he seeks not to bring her misfortune but rather believes he does her a service by building up her status and worth.

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The cast of Julius Caesar

Towa Adegboyega
Visual Culture

Send Her Victorious: An Analysis of Feminine Power in Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece

The poem The Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare features an elaborate power
structure that influences character interactions and constitutes an integral part of the plot. As the titular character of the poem, Lucrece’s feminine power occupies a dynamic position within the power framework both individually and in relation to other characters. After Tarquin rapes Lucrece, the narrative depicts the metamorphosing of Lucrece’s power from the passive form embodied in her body to a more active form as she reclaims her agency. Complexities arise with respect to the nature of the operative power she exercises, however, introducing questions regarding whether she acts as the source of her influence or merely a conduit for male power she co-opts to use for her purposes.

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Toni Wilson

From Susie Hunt ‘72
FB post May 30

I am starting with a blank document. I was given that choice.
My mind is not so blank. Anything but.

I am in the California desert. Surrounded by beauty and sun. Just the way she liked it.

I can feel the pain and loss of so many. It’s a deep pain and a life changing moment.

I turned to Facebook this morning as I so often do. Mindless entertainment and a platform for sharing. I often indulge showcasing my travels and on occasion, an opinion or two. There are always certain people I hope will see and celebrate my adventures because they were the people who shaped my life and helped create the person I have become. One of those people was Toni Smith Wilson.

I had sent Toni a Happy Birthday wish on May 2nd with a note saying I would be in Buffalo the first week of June and would love to have dinner. I never heard back. I thought she might have written it off as a promise I may or may not keep, often due to a shifting schedule. I did not expect this morning to read of her death. None of us did.

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Capstone at SEM: A Culminating Experience

Captone Committee: Sharon Ammerman, Curriculum Coordinator; Jennifer Goetz-Bixby, Math and Science Faculty; Benjamin Joplin, Humanities Faculty; and Beth Lewitzky, Librarian.

True to the mission of an independent school, Buffalo Seminary faculty continually examine aspects of our curriculum with a focus on our students’ futures. The recommendations of several faculty committees, each targeting diverse areas of the curriculum, converged with the decision that a summative, independent, and open-ended learning experience, uniquely tailored to each SEM girl, would reap essential benefits for our students.

Our faculty has spent two years learning about Capstone projects around the country and the world, learning from scholarly publications, investigating a broad range of summative project models at high schools and colleges around the country and the world, reflecting on our students’ strengths and needs, and scrutinizing our current academic program.

SEM’s Capstone program is a multi-year process beginning in freshman year and culminating in an independent project in their senior year.

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SEM Chess Team Now Has Quality and Quantity

By Danielle Little ‘16, Chess Team President

In the beginning of the year we reviewed the foundations of chess and how the pieces move. Once all of the basics were covered we moved on to strategy and tactics. Finally, the girls learned how to compete in tournaments and play competitively.

The team competed in six different local tournaments this year placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on multiple occasions. Once we were comfortable in tournament settings we began to train for our biggest event of the year the State Championships in Saratoga Springs.

All our efforts paid off when we took 8th place out of over 100 competitors. Enya Cirillo and I were ranked by the United States Chess Federation in the top 100 female chess players in the country (#53, #43)!

As the founder of the club it has been amazing to watch the club grow and the members develop as strong chess players. Next year Mikang Kim ‘17 will be the president working closely alongside Mr. Cirillo, who has been an essential asset in helping the Chess Club find its footing.

Chess Team: Danielle Little Enya Cirillo, Gabriella Augello, Olivia Colon, Zoe Galarneau, Jingjing Guo, Alex Kane, Kexin (Veronica) Zhang, Jade Johnson, Anna Brach, Deidra Mitchell, Annalena Dudde, Katie Kraft, Hee Yeon Lim and Aurora Krauss, Mikang Kim, Emma Brentjens, Anna Brach and Sara Hamdan.


Elizabeth Swados, composer, writer, and director, and a 1968 graduate of SEM, died at the age of 64 in January.

In 1978 her first play, Runaways, was nominated for four Tony awards. That same year, she returned to where she’d been a teenager when she was invited to give the SEM commencement address. That speech was reprinted in The Semafore, SEM’s newspaper.


I'd like to thank you for inviting me here. I'd like to be able to tell you how happy I am to do this because it's ten years since I graduated from this same school in this same church and I feel that you are helping me get a grasp on my own personal history. Very little in our present day life is geared towards celebrating an individual's growth, or an individual's struggle—we don't have too many rites of passage or interesting initiation rituals—so while I am helping celebrate the conclusion of four important years for you, you should also know that you have helped me realize what an important ten years I've had. No awards, names in the paper, pictures on billboards, etc. can touch me nearly so closely as an intense moment between my past and your future. So anyway, know that as we go carefully along this frightening new area for me called a commencement address, we are doing this together and there is nothing that I'm saying to you that I'm not saying to myself. I'm very moved by this and although I'm somewhat cantankerous by nature, I treat this moment with respect.

I'd also like to note that I received this invitation long before Runaways opened on Broadway. The senior class letter said something to the fact (and these aren't the exact words) “We saw you when you did a workshop at Sem and your music was okay but it was really your spirit we wanted.” Well I like that. I'm impressed by any group of people who are still in search of a human being and not a famous commodity. I'm in a world right now where they will package anything from Historical genocides to 12-year-old girls, disguise it as “art” and sell it like Prell shampoo (which is also terrible for you). I'm disgusted by the whole scene. I don't even trust my own success, and I know I didn't cheat too much. Andy Warhol said it absolutely right when he proclaimed that anyone and everyone can be or will be famous for fifteen minutes in his or her lifetime. And I certainly don't trust Andy Warhol and can't believe for a second the junk that has made him famous. So it's best to go slowly when you pick anyone to listen to.

Read Entire Address Here .............


New French Electives Engage the Mind and the Senses Through Current Events, French Cooking and Quebec History

By Andrea DeMarco ‘16

In most normal circumstances, finding a large bean shoved in a slice of pie would mean a serious mistake on the chef’s part, for the French, however, this is nothing but a sign of good luck and royalty. Last year, this bean would have held little significance to me in respect to my French education and discovery; however, thanks to SEM’s extensive choice of electives I had the opportunity to deepen my understanding of real French culture and tradition. As a senior about to embark on my college journey at University at Buffalo, majoring in French and Francophone Studies, I’m thankful for the chance to partake in all three of SEM’s new French electives.

For the first trimester, Madame Fisher designed a class that encouraged more speaking and engagement from students than the traditional written grammar. We focused on current events that were happening in France and all over the world, with topics ranging from “Star Wars” to poaching. For each class period, one of the girls was chosen as the “leader” of the class, and they would have to choose a news article from a French or Québec-based source. For the most part, this class was centered on discussion and debates in French, and we would always begin with several questions that the leader proposed. Every one of the students were encouraged to speak, question, and clarify on any of the subjects. If ever the conversation got off topic, Mme. Fisher would help us by steering us back on course. This elective really allowed us to explore and improve speaking skills, as well as develop new ways of expressing ourselves in a second, and even third language.

During the colder months of the second trimester, we spiced up our French class by focusing on the “Bon Appetit” cultures of France and Quebec and their traditions. This is the part where I found that bean in my “Galette du Roi,” during the French Epiphany celebration in January. We had the chance to cook chez Madame Vallet-Sandre and prepare three different types of galettes (flat, crusty cakes), and eat one she had already baked, which had the bean hidden inside it. Tradition has it that whomever finds the bean receives the honor of being crowned “King,” or “Queen,” becoming royalty for the day. Finding the bean made me the quenn in the paper crown! Not only did we prepare galettes, we also returned back to Madame Vallet-Sandre’s beautiful house to make crêpes and crêpes Suzette. Learning about original, genuine French cuisine taught me to appreciate even more their culture and the gastronomy we envy so very much.

The very last French elective I took at SEM went by quicker than I'd hoped, but with a concentration on Québec history, the class was all I could've imagined. We discussed the discovery of Québec, the battles that were fought for the land, and the treatment of the French Canadians after the English took over. We even learned about the origin of the distinct Québecisme, known commonly as the Québec colloquial language. Madame Fisher’s passion for Québec and its culture radiated in each of our class discussions, and her extensive knowledge allowed us to delve into the life of a Québcoise. This eventually led to us taking a weekend trip to Montréal to discover this incredible culture for ourselves. This trip and elective combined to create a lasting impression on a culture I previously knew nothing about, while giving me a chance to explore it outside of school walls.

These three electives forged a new path filled with the various opportunities languages give us, along with establishing global and open mindset. This year presented many challenges for everyone, both positive and negative, and my love for the French language always was right alongside me, as well as so many teachers at SEM. These electives have opened up doors, and have educated me, along with my classmates, about the beauty of being curious at the discovery of new cultures and languages.


Buffalo Seminary Graduation 2016
Susan Drozd's Address


My dear colleagues, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas & grandpas, aunts & uncles, girlfriends, boyfriends, alumnae, trustees and wonderful humans ! My name is Susan Drozd. I am Sem’s proud theatre teacher and it is my honor to take on the closing of today’s celebration.

On today, June 14th 1777 –During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” 100 years later in 1877 – June 14th became our national Flag Day.Happy Flag Day!

On today, June 14th, 1811 – The author, Harriet Beecher Stowe was born. She is most known for her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin which she wrote in reaction to tightened fugitive laws. The book sold some 300,000 copies and did much to galvanize public opinion in the North against slavery. (And that was before social media!)

Happy Birthday Harriet!

On today, June 14th, 1938- The first ever Caldecott Medal was given to a woman -Ms. Dorothy P. Lathrop – of Albany, NY for her art in the book Animals of the Bible.Way to go, Dorothy!

And on this date, June 14th – it is my pleasure to celebrate with all of you the graduation of Buffalo Seminary’s Class of 2016!

Hello Friends!!

I would like to begin with a question that I ask myself often.I am quoting a question from a movie that was as much a part of my own life lessons as The Sound of Music, West Side Story & Bedknobs and Broomsticks…

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?


Read Entire Address Here ........


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