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Friday, October 09, 2015



Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Program that Grew Out of 9/11 Draws Large Crowd Image
Linda Lantieri, director f New York-based The Inner Resilience Program, addresses a packed workshop today in the Westport Town Hall auditorium. The program was founded by Lantieri in the spring of 2002 in response to the effects of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 on New York City schools. The aim was to equip school staff and parents with the skills necessary to build back their inner strength and resilience, and to model this way of being for the children in their care. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 03:11 PM
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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Staples’ Karagus: ‘You Have to Be Yourself’

By James Lomuscio

One of the late baseball legend Yogi Berra’s scratch-your-head witticisms was, “If you can’t imitate him, don’t try to copy him.” Image
Interim Staples Principal Mark W. Karagus:“I’ve made a pretty good dent introducing myself,”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

That Yogi-ism could best apply to die-hard Yankees fan Mark W. Karagus, the interim principal who just finished up his first month at Westport’s Staples High School.

“I’m a little bit different from John,” Karagus says about his style compared to that of former principal John Dodig, the beloved administrator who retired in June after 11 years at the helm. “I don’t want to copy his style. You have to be yourself. It’s what I do.”

Described as personable, if not garrulous, Karagus, 65, can be found mornings, greeting students in the school’s lobby, but not standing center stage there like Dodig. He also makes sure to walk the halls, to visit the cafeteria, to chat with students.

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Posted 08:15 AM
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Local ‘Tutors for Opportunity’ Chapter Launched

By Jaime Bairaktaris

Staples High School seniors Daryl Choi and Max Hammer have started a Westport chapter of Tutors for Opportunity (TFO), an international, nonprofit, all-volunteer tutoring service. Image
Staples tutors include (l-r) Timothy Chiang, Douglas Raigosa, Max Hammer, Daryl Choi, Julia Schorr, and Annie Gao. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for

“The not-for-profit organization aims to educate more people to create a better tomorrow, believing that educating people today will help create a new generation tomorrow that has the ability to solve and prevent our most common worldwide issues,” says Choi.

In its first six months, he says the new organization has tutored more than 100 students worldwide and about 20 in Westport.

Tutoring is available in all subjects for elementary, middle and high school students. Math and physical science are subjects most commonly requested.

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Posted 09:53 PM
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Staples Gets 25 National Merit Commendations

Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon announced today that 25 Staples High School seniors have been named Commended Students in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program.

A letter of commendation from the school and National Merit Scholarship Corporation will be presented by the Staples Interim Principal Mark W.  Karagus to students “who participate and excel in nearly every activity Staples High School offers.,” Landon said.

“They’re singers, athletes, journalists, computer whizzes, piano players, artists and actors,” Landon said. “They take advanced placement and honors classes, along with culinary, graphic design and are active in community service clubs.”

The commended students are: Jordan Adler, Nicolas Amato, Rees Chang, Claudia Chen, Devon Debalsi, Jason Garland, Aliza Gross, Joshua Hauser, Halley Jonas, Charles Krawiec, Maya Lawande, Yevgen Lensky, James Lewis, Jackson Livingstone, Arianna Markel, Vignesh Namasivayam, Joseph, Pravder, Douglas Raigosa, Julia Saveliff, Julia Schorr, Audrey Seo, Ethan Shenhar, Arun Soni, Jimmy Ray Stagg and Angela Yu.

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Posted 12:15 PM
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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kings Highway El Beach Bash Image
Students, parents, teachers, and administrators had fun tonight at the annual Kings Highway Elementary School fall beach bash at Westport’s South Beach at Compo Beach. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for

Posted 08:35 PM
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Literary Winners Image
Five Westport students were cited for excellence in writing at the 37th annual Trumbull Arts Festival Literary Competition in a ceremony at the Trumbull Library. Students from Coleytown Middle school swept the poetry division awards, with Ava Geismann (first) for “The Last Day of Schoo,l” Kelley Schutte (second) for “My Family is a Beach,” and Lia Chen (honorable mention) for “It is 9:24 p.m. and I Have Just Started This Poem.” In addition, Ben Schussheim was awarded second in the fiction division for his story “A Diamond in the Brush.” Their teacher is Paul Ferrante. In the elementary division, Lilly Weisz from Kings Highway School was awarded first in the poetry division for “The Sky’s Garden.” Her teacher is Priscilla Jones. Pictured (l-r) are: Lia Chen, Kelley Schutte, Ava Geismann, Lilly Weisz, and Ben Schussheim. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Posted 10:29 AM
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Second Public Input Session Held on Super Search

By Dave Matlow

More than 40 persons gathered today in the Westport Town Hall auditorium for the second session to give public input into the search for a successor for retiring Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon. Image
More than 40 persons, most from PTAs, attended today’s session at Westport Town Hall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

John Chambers, an associate of Hazard, Young, Attea Associates, a Rosemont, Illinois-based search firm, led the session. It followed one attended by about 10 persons on Sept. 1 at Saugatuck Elementary School. (See WestportNow, Sept, 1, 2015)

Chambers, a former school superintendent at New York school systems in Byram Hill and Bronxville,  said today’s turnout was unusually large and contrasted with the much smaller attendance at the first session held in evening hours.

He said it was good that Landon gave a year notice, which he said allows for a thorough search for his replacement.

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Posted 02:12 PM
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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Back to School at Greens Farms Academy Image
It was back to school day today for students at Westport’s Greens Farms Academy (GFA). Head of School Janet Hartwell (l) welcomed students and parents to the school. GFA is full this year with 715 students from Connecticut and New York. Academically, GFA officially launched its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) program with a variety of courses offered in the Upper School, leading to a diploma with a concentration in STEAM. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 10:10 AM
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I’m New Here, Too Image
New Head of Greens Farms Academy’s Lower School Aléwa Cooper (c) welcomes a new student on her first day at GFA today. Also new are Director of Admission and Enrollment Management Ann Miller, along with eight new full-time teachers. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 10:01 AM
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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Having Fun at Long Lots El Beach Party Image
The annual Long Lots Elementary School back to school beach party today at Westport’s Compo Beach provided plenty of fun, food and games for all. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

Posted 05:41 PM
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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Forum Airs Qualities Sought in Next Schools Super

By James Lomuscio

A fiscally responsible, digitally savvy, administrator willing to sit on the floor with elementary school children, and raise the district’s academic bar even higher while adding diversity were among the qualities a dozen Westporters tonight said they want in the next schools superintendent. Image
Tonight’s session at Saugatuck Elementary School drew about a dozen persons. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

For more than an hour, the small crowd that had gathered in the Saugatuck Elementary School auditorium shared concerns about the issues facing the Westport Public Schools—and the type of person best to lead as Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon retires at the end of this academic year after 17 years on the job.

It was the first of two community forums to be held by the Chicago-based search firm Hazard, Young, Attea (HYA) & Associates, hired by the school board. As second forum is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 10 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Town Hall auditorium

“Our process is really intense at this stage of information gathering,” said John Chambers, HYA senior associate, adding that the forum’s aim was “gathering information, gathering perspective from everyone who’s willing to talk to us.”

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Posted 11:05 PM
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Monday, August 31, 2015

BOE: Whoa to $21.2 Million Staples Expansion

By James Lomuscio

Click here for PDF of study

Westport’s Board of Education tonight found an architect’s feasibility study to expand Staples High School by 36,320-square feet to the tune of $21.2 million to be more than they had expected. Image
An artist’s rendition of a recommended Staples High School expansion module. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Fuller D’Angelo P.C. graphic

Members seemed surprised by the proposal. They said they thought the $20,000 study they had commissioned would address different ways to accommodate Staples’ swelling student population that is 100 students over capacity this fall—not full blown plans for a new building with a hefty price tag.

“The enrollment is the driver, and I’m just afraid that it’s two steps further than where we are now,” said board member Karen Klein.

“We need to fully vet all the other choices,” she added, saying that things, such as modular classrooms, larger class size and course tradeoffs, should be part of the study, even though she is not in favor of them. “We need to do our due diligence before we get to that point.”

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Posted 11:29 PM
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Online Survey Aids in Schools Super Search

A community survey to help discern what Westporters want in a new school superintendent is now available at or can be linked to from the Westport Public Schools’ home page, Board of Education Chairman Michael Gordon said today. The survey will remain open until Sept. 18.

Gordon also said that the first community forum on the search to replace Superintendent Elliott Landon, who is retiring after 17 years at the end of the 2015-16 academic year, is scheduled for Tuesda, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Saugatuck Elementary School auditorium. 

A second second forum is set for Thursday, Sept. 10 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

Finding a replacement for Landon will also be the first item at tonight’s Board of Education meeting, as the search firm Hazard, Young & Attea offers a presentation of the superintendent search process.

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Posted 02:34 PM
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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Scores Plunge as Students Take New Tougher Test

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

As expected, the standardized test scores parents are accustomed to seeing for their child’s school have plunged as the state implements a harder test aligned with the controversial Common Core State Standards.

Scores released Friday for tests taken last school year show that 39 percent of Connecticut public school students were judged proficient on the state’s math exam —  a significant drop from 83 percent in 2013. In English, 55 percent of students were judged proficient last year — down from 81 percent in reading and 84 percent in writing in 2013.

State education officials weren’t surprised. They have been warning the drop would happen, as it has in other states that switched to exams aligned with the Common Core.

The number of students electing not to take the state exams also rose last school year — a trend referred to as the “opt-out movement.” Concern has grown among parents that their children are spending too much time in school being tested or being prepared for tests. [Westport had an 87.7 percent participation rate in English and 87.6 percent in math.]

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Posted 06:00 AM
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

BOE to Review $21.2M Staples Expansion Study

By James Lomuscio

Click here for PDF of study
A Westport Board of Education commissioned feasibility study to expand Staples High School by 36,000-square feet to the tune of $21.2 million to accommodate a swelling student population will go to the school board Monday night, Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon said today. Image
An artist’s rendition of a recommended Staples High School expansion module. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Fuller D’Angelo P.C. graphic

He said the $20,000 study was commissioned by the board in May and was done by Elmsford, N.Y.-based architects Fuller D’Angelo P.C., the same firm hired for the expansion of the 1958-built school transformed to 465,000 square feet in 2005 at a cost of $73 million. The feasibility study was presented to school board members today, Landon said.

The current building was designed for 1,800 students even though the administration had pushed for a building with a 2,000 capacity but had to cut back for budgetary reasons, Landon said. He had said earlier that this year’s Staples enrollment was about 1,900 and that the school has been overcapacity for several years. (See WestportNow Aug. 24, 2015)

According to the report, Landon and school administrators favored the architects’ Concept B, which would add 36,320-square feet to the current building. It includes 15 new classrooms for math, languages, computer engineering, robotics, health and physical education, lectures, dance, conference rooms, teacher work rooms, special education and cafeteria expansion, as well as infrastructure upgrades.

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Posted 10:53 PM
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