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Education

Education

Friday, January 08, 2016

BOE Set to Vote Monday on New Superintendent

The Westport Board of Education plans to vote at its Monday meeting to appoint Collen Palmer, superintendent of schools in Weston, as the new Westport superintendent, Chairman Michael Gordon said today.

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Colleen Palmer: moving from Weston. Contributed photo

He said on Thursday, the board completed a site visit at the Weston Public Schools.

“Board members were joined at the site visit by Westport parents, teachers, administrators and elected officials from other town bodies.” he said.  “They met in both smaller and larger groups with Weston school representatives, staff, parents and elected officials.”

He added, “With the site visit successfully completed, the board is ready to make the appointment of Dr. Palmer official.”  The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in Staples High School Cafeteria B (room 301).

01/08/16 08:07 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Landon’s Last Budget Unveiled

By James Lomuscio

Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, who is retiring at the end of June, tonight presented his proposed 2016-17 school operating budget to the Board of Education—$113,428,663, a 2.03 percent increase over the current year.

WestportNow.com Image
Board of Education members Jeannie Smith and Michael Gordon with Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon at tonight’s meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

It is Landon’s 17th and final proposed budget.

Though higher than the 1.5 percent increase the Board of Finance had suggested, Landon said “a lot of unknowns” regarding contractual settlements with teachers and staff were taken into account. He also said his recommended budget reflects cuts that do not affect educational quality.

Among the cuts is the elimination of the elementary school bus monitor program that has been in place for 23 years, as many of the monitors are retiring.

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Block Resigns from School Board, Replacement Sought

UPDATE With Republican school board member Paul Block’s resignation this week, the Democratic majority Westport Board of Education has begun working with the Republican Town Committee (RTC) to the fill the vacancy, board members announced tonight.

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Paul Block: elected in November. Contributed photo

Jeannie Smith, school board vice chairwoman and a Republican, will lead the effort to find a replacement, said Michael Gordon, school board chairman and a Democrat.

Block, who was reelected to a four-year term in November, stepped down since he recently took a CEO position at a new company, and its demands would interfere with his role on the board, said Gordon.

The new appointment’s term will run through November 2019, “almost a four-year term,” said Gordon.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Talking Education

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Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore gets together tonight with former Staples High School Principal John Dodig at Westport’s Vespa restaurant following the screening of Moore’s new film “Where to Invade Next” at at Bowtie Cinemas Royale 6 in Norwalk. The film is an expansive, subversive comedy in which Moore, playing the role of “invader,” visits a host of nations to learn how the United States could improve its own prospects. In France, Moore marvels at the exceptional quality of the cuisine served in its public schools and in Finland he spotlights its education measures, including doing away with homework and seeking to educate the whole person, rather than merely training students to pass a standardized test. Dodig said he told Moore his entire career has been devoted to promoting similar goals for his students. Also in the audience and at the reception was Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gallery: Final 75th Anniversary Candlelight Concert


Scenes from tonight’s final 75th anniversary Candlelight Concert at Staples High School. The evening began with a video produced by Staples ‘61 graduate John Brandt reviewing the history of the concerts. Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

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Gallery: Candlelight Alums at 75th Anniversary Reception


Prior to tonight’s final performance of the 75th anniversary Candlelight Concert at Staples High School, some Candlelight alumni and guests gathered at the Inn at Westport for a reception. Here are some scenes from the event. Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

12/19/15 09:16 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, December 18, 2015

Gallery: 75th Candlelight Concert Debuts


Scenes from tonight’s opening night of the 75th Candlelight Concert at Westport’s Staples High School. In an unusual twist, the Symphonic Orchestra was conducted by David Ohanian, Staples Class of 1963 and the son of John Ohanian, director at Staples from 1940 to 1974 and the beloved founder of the Candlelight Concert. In honor of David Ohanian’s presence, Choral Director Luke Rosenberg invited alumni to join in singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from “The Messiah,” something usually reserved for Saturday night’s closing concert. Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

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Guest Conductor

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Guest conductor tonight of the Staples High School Symphonic Orchestra at the opening night of the 75th Candlelight Concert was David Ohanian, Staples ‘63, son of John Ohanian, founder of Candlelight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

12/18/15 10:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

New Production Number

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At tonight’s 75th presentation of the annual Candlelight Concert at Staples High School, students presented a program ending with a new production number, an entertaining updated “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas”  by Don Rickenback. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

12/18/15 10:40 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

BOE Names Weston Schools Head Superintendent Finalist

UPDATE Colleen Palmer, superintendent of schools in Weston, is the finalist candidate to replace Elliott Landon as Westport’s superintendent of schools, the Westport Board of Education announced today.

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Colleen Palmer: in Weston since 2011. Contributed photo

It said it expected to make appointment in January. Landon is retiring in June after 17 years in the post.

Palmer, 61, named last month superintendent of the year by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, became superintendent in Weston in 2011.

Following the Westport announcement, the Weston Board of Education issued a statement congratulating Palmer on being named the Westport finalist. It said her departure “will be a great loss” for Weston and that it is launching a search for her successor.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Orphenians Entertain at Westport Rotary

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The Orphenians of Staples High School performed holiday songs today at the Westport Rotary Club weekly meeting a Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Fourth Holiday Season for Rosenberg

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Luke Rosenberg led the Orphenians today at a Westport Rotary Club performance. This is the fourth holiday concert season for Rosenberg since taking over as choral director at Staples High School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Special Holiday Performance for Y’s Men

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There was a special holiday treat at today’s Y’s Men of Westport Weston weekly meeting at Saugatuck Congregational Church—a performance by the Staples High School Chamber Orchestra. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

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Looking Back at Three Decades of Promoting Musical Excellence

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Adele Cutrali-Valovich, Staples High School’s director of orchestral music, today brought her 33-member “by audition only” chamber orchestra to the weekly Y’s Men meeting at the Saugatuck Congregational Church to play a short pre-holiday performance for the group. She also discussed the Westport music department’s commitment to excellence during her three-decade tenure and reminded the Y’s Men to get their tickets for the upcoming 75th Anniversary Candlelight Concert next weekend. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

12/10/15 01:25 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Staples Boys Soccer Team Wins Academic All-America Honors

For the 13th time in 15 years — and the seventh season in a row — the Staples boys soccer program has been honored with a national award for academic excellence.

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The 2014 Staples boys soccer varsity team: Academic All-Americans. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by Kim Lake

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America gave the Wreckers a Team Academic Award — one of only three boys public high school soccer teams in Connecticut to be so named. The Staples girls team also earned Academic All-America honors.

To qualify, a squad must have a 3.25 grade point average of all varsity players. The award is given for the previous academic year. In 2014, Staples’ varsity players had an average GPA of 3.40 — just .03 points behind the record, set in 2013.

“I’ve always said that our players are some of the smartest and most creative people at Staples,” said head coach Dan Woog.

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Monday, December 07, 2015

BOE to Seek $1.15 Million in School Upgrades

The Westport Board of Education tonight approved requesting $1.15 million from the town funding bodies for upgrades to school facilities.

The authorization to proceed with the funding request followed a discussion with several Board of Finance members about the school budget and a presentation by consultant David Kennedy on enrollment projections.

The funding request covers a roof project and other repairs to Coleytown Elementary School and pool and locker room upgrades to Staples High School.  The items are in the board’s capital forecast.

Kennedy told the board that enrollment is likely to decline over the next three to five years but that any projection beyond that would be “wishful thinking.”

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Friday, December 04, 2015

Orphenians Entertain Seniors in Darien

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As part of their holiday offerings, the Staples High School Orphenians performed Wednesday at Atria Senior Living in Darien. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Janet Kempner for WestportNow.com

12/04/15 10:45 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, December 03, 2015

School Board Interviews Superintendent Candidates

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Michael Gordon: “We are generally pleased with candidates.” Contributed photo

The Westport Board of Education recently began interviewing candidates to replace Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon who is retiring in June, the board announced today.

“The interview phase of the superintendent search is a several-step process that allows the board to get to know the candidates well,” said Michael Gordon, school board chairman. “We are generally pleased with the pool of candidates recommended by our search consultant.”

The school board contracted national search firm Hazard, Attea & Young (HYA) in the spring after Landon announced he would be retiring following 17 years at the helm.

To discern the kind of superintendent the town sought to fill Landon’s shoes, HYA surveyed almost 700 participants, plus held public sessions and two dozen focus groups with school board members, administrators, town officials, teachers, support staff and parents.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Special 75th Candlelight Pre-concert Gala Set

Next month’s 75th anniversary of the Staples High School Candlelight Concert will include a special pre-concert event to celebrate the milestone.

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Adele Cutrali-Valovich, director of orchestral music at Staples, congratulates a student at last year’s Candlelight Concert. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

The three free performances are Friday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. with the alumni performance at 8 p.m. There is free admission but tickets must be obtained in advance on the music department website at http://www.staplesmusic.org

An anniversary gala reception will be held at the Westport Inn on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. before the 8 p.m. alumni performance, organizers announced.

The cost is $75 per person and includes a reserved seat at the alumni concert, food, drinks, and music. On sale at the gala will be 75th anniversary logo wear and a four-CD musical retrospective of the concert’s 75 years.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

BOE to Seek $290K for Coley El Air Conditioning

After much discussion over the method of financing, the Westport Board of Education voted tonight to seek $290,000 to air condition the cafeteria and gymnasium at Coleytown Elementary School.

It is the only school among eight in the district that does not have air conditioning in these key areas. The issue has been in the capital project list since at least 2005 for the school, which opened in 1953.

At issue was whether the board should fund the project from its Capital Expenditure Offset Account and the Food Service Capital Account, as recommended by Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, or go to the town funding bodies with a capital project appropriation request.

A lengthy debate ensued, with member Mark Mathias summing up: “It’s a capital project. The Board of Finance as far as I know has always approved a request we’ve had for capital projects … This is the way it should be done.”

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Board of Ed Told $630K Needed for School Bus Seat Belts

UPDATE The Westport Board of Education tonight was told it would cost $630,000 to add three-point seat belts to the district’s 41 school buses.

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The use of three-point seat belts on school buses was discussed at tonight’s Board of Education meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The board asked for more information about the issue and put off any action until a future meeting.

The discussion about seat belts followed a memo to the board from Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon. He said he was raising the issue in light of a recommendation for use of the belts by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Three-point seat belts, just like the ones installed on automobiles, are the preferred type of equipment for school buses,” he said in the memo and repeated to the board tonight.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Staples Cited for Commitment to Music Education

Westport’s Staples High School is among 119 U.S. public high schools selected by the GRAMMY Foundation as a GRAMMY Signature Schools semifinalist for making an outstanding commitment to music education, school officials announced today.

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Staples students perform at a recent concert. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

It is the only Connecticut high school chosen for the honor.

Created in 1998, the GRAMMY Signature Schools program recognizes top U.S. public high schools for their commitment to music education during an academic school year.

The next part of the process will be the submission of performance excerpts from the past school year. Finalists for the GRAMMY Signature Schools will be announced in mid-March.

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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Tickets Available to Candlelight Concerts

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At the end of last year’s Candlelight Concert, a large banner was unfurled inviting everyone to this year’s 75th anniversary concert. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

Westport’s Staples High School today announced the availability of tickets to the 75th annual Candlelight Concerts next month.

The concerts will be held on Friday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m., and on Saturday, Dec. 19, with a matinee at 2 p.m. and the traditional alumni performance at 8 p.m.

The snow date for all performances is Sunday, Dec. 20 at 3 p.m.

General Admission tickets are available by mail to 70 North Ave., Westport, CT 06880, and must be postmarked by Wednesday, Dec. 11.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

School, Finance Board Candidates Take to the Stage

By James Lomuscio

The spotlight was on controlling budgets and fiscal responsibility for both Board of Education and Board of Finance candidates who met in a Town Hall auditorium debate tonight.

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Board of Finance candidates included (l-r) Ian Bruce, John Hartwell, Clarissa Moore, Sheri Gordon, and Michael Rea. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Daave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Moderated by Jean Rabinow, a member of the Steering Committee of the LWV of the Bridgeport Area, It was the second League of Women Voters (LWV) of Westport debate before the Nov. 3 municipal election.

The two-hour event began with three unopposed, incumbent school board members, Republican Paul Block and Democrats Mark Mathias, Michael Gordon, board chairman, fielding prepared audience questions.

Questions ranged from how to keep the budget down to concerns about a $1.6 million cost overrun to hiring a new principal for Staples High School.

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Combatting Distracted Driving at Staples

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Staples High School Senior Nick Greene tries out a distracted driving siimulator as a part of today’s anti-distracted driving assembly for all seniors and for any students not taking the PSAT (practice SAT) exam. The assembly is put on by the Safe a Life Tour—an international entertainment group that presents high school assemblies to combat and prevent teens from distracted driving. The event was sponsored by the Staples TAG (Teen Awareness Group), which coordinates similar events throughout the school year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for WestportNow.com

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For Super Search, Board Posts Profile Westport Wants

By James Lomuscio

The person replacing Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, set to retire in June, should be a good communicator, have a record of success, “a high degree of emotional intelligence” and offer mutual respect, according to q leadership profile released today.  WestportNow.com Image
Elliott Landon: retiring after 17 years. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The Westport Board of Education has posted the leadership profile on its website http://www.westport.k12.ct.us/

Topping the list of qualifications is a candidate who is a good communicator with “well refined writing and speaking skills.”

“Timely and effective communication concerning budget, facilities projects, program initiatives, emerging trends and critical issues facing the Westport Public Schools are essential,” the profile says.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Interim Staples Principal: ‘Honored’ to be in Westport

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Mark A. Karagus, interim principal of Staples High School, told the Westport Rotary Club today that the most important part of a principal’s job is “to hire wisely.” In a wide ranging talk, the 40-year educator who visited Staples frequently while officiating at basketball games, said, “As an experienced high school basketball referee, I always found that meeting with the teams and staff in the locker room before a game told me more about the quality of the community than anything else.” Kargus said the atmosphere at Staples “is one of respect and trust—an honor system that the students do not abuse.” He said if he had one word to sum up his experience in Westport it was “honored” -– honored to be here, adding: “I never felt more welcomed anywhere than I have been in Westport.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Program that Grew Out of 9/11 Draws Large Crowd

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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 WestportNow.com

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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.”

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Interim Staples Principal Mark W. Karagus:“I’ve made a pretty good dent introducing myself,”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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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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.

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Staples tutors include (l-r) Timothy Chiang, Douglas Raigosa, Max Hammer, Daryl Choi, Julia Schorr, and Annie Gao. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for WestportNow.com

“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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