The Saturday Night Adventures program is an exceptional series of events that bring together members of the Riverdale Community and allow for an entertaining, rewarding night. Throughout the past two years, this program has invited students and faculty to live theater performances, bowling and arcade venues, and many more interactive activities. Head of the Upper School Dr. Kelley Nicholson-Flynn created these engaging evenings as a means to connect students with faculty members that they may not encounter during their time at the school, outside of the classroom setting. Additionally, students are exposed to unfamiliar environments in which they are pushed out of their comfort zone.
Ms. Laura Desmond, who currently organizes the outings, illustrates that in its essence, the program was created to provide “events on Saturday evenings that would be open to anybody in the upper school. It was intended to be a way for faculty and students to experience something fun and interesting on a Saturday night.” At its core, the Saturday Night Adventures program provides a unique evening that is intriguing and beneficial to all who attend. Students with and without interest in the arts are extremely pleased when they exit the theaters of incredible performances, including the legendary “Come From Away” and the comical “The Other Josh Cohen.”
While the events tend to be theater-based, Ms. Desmond tries to find activities that “students might never think to do on their own.” Around Halloween, the Saturday Night Adventures program traveled to Merchants Town in Lower Manhattan to attend a Ghost Tour.
Freshman Ella Hochstadt mentioned, “I loved how I was able to explore a new part of the city that I would not have encountered by myself. The Ghost Tour was a fun and spooky activity that opened up a new part of the Manhattan for me.” On the tour, students and faculty had a remarkable time as they ventured through the dark streets and entered a series of haunted houses. This year, the students also enjoyed a delicious food tour of the East Village. Their palettes were expanded as they tasted delectable selections from impressive venues.
The live theater performances are an enormous hit among participants. Last year, the program took a trip to the musical, “Come From Away.” The show is set in the week following the September 11th attacks and tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes landed unexpectedly in the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland. The musical, nominated for seven Tony Awards, was received excellently by critics and audiences alike. Along with attending the hilarious play “The Other Josh Cohen,” the group of students and faculty were treated to a talkback from the cast following the performance. The talkback helped the group to deepen their understanding of the work and enhanced their experience as participants, not merely observers.
Senior Elsa Chung highlighted another beneficial component of the program: it indeed welcomes everyone in the Riverdale community. She said, “I live outside the city, and the school provides me with transportation into Manhattan. This allows me to access areas and events that I otherwise would not travel to.” Students who do not live near the venue are entirely encouraged to participate.
Additionally, Ms. Desmond explained, “We have people come on their own, you absolutely do not need a friend to come along with. It’s a very kind and welcoming group that typically goes.” Part of what makes the evenings so attractable is the informal dynamic. Students and faculty have the opportunity to enjoy time together entirely stress-free.
Though not yet formally announced, a visit to the new musical “The Prom” is within the realm of possibility. Additionally on the radar is also a trip to “Accomplice The Show,” an immersive and comedic theatrical experience in downtown Manhattan. The program is entirely open to suggestions as to where the next outing should be organized.