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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Special Tour

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Members of the Saugatuck Elementary’s PTA were treated to a walking tour today of works from the Westport Permanent Art Collection (WSPAC) by Linda Gramatky Smith. She is the daughter of Hardie Gramatky, famed Westport watercolorist. SES is home to over 80 art pieces from the WSPAC, including several representing Gramatky’s much-loved children’s books. Gramatky Smith is pictured holding copies of “Little Toot” and “Nikos and the Sea God” beneath original art from those books. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 04:59 PM
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Honors for Westport Schools Music Program

Another honor today for the music program in Westport schools.

The NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its nearly 9,200 members around the world, awarded Westport a Best Communities for Music Education designation. It was one of 12 districts in the state receiving the designation.

Now in its 16th year, Best Communities for Music Education affirms school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts toward maintaining music education as part of schools’ core curriculum, an announcement said. This year, 388 school districts in 46 states were honored.

“Westport has long possessed a unique insight and understanding of the important role music plays in the education of the whole child,” said Thomas Scavone, district music supervisor.

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SRO for Learning About Common Core

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There was a standing room-only crowd Monday night at the Westport Library’s McManus Room to hear former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto (D-Mansfield) discuss the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests to be administered to Westport students in third through 12th grades over the next few weeks. Pelto, who served nine years in the state legislature and now authors a blog, Wait What? at www. Jonathanpeltro.com, has been critical of the SABC, calling them “unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory.” The event was privately organized by a group of local parents. A video is available here.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 10:20 AM
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Staples Students Excel in History at Regional Tourney

Westport students, especially those at Staples High School, have shown they do know much about history.

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They excelled Saturday in the Fairfield Regional History Day in Connecticut contest at Fairfield University. More than 300 students from 16 area communities took part in the competition.

Westport students dominated in the senior category (grades 9 to 12), taking 15 of the 20 top awards in the division while those in the junior category (grades 6 to 8) took two of 26 top slots.

Students who placed in the top three in their respective categories and divisions are invited to compete in the State History Day Contest, which will take place on May 9 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

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Posted 12:36 PM
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Celebrating Science Win

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Bedford Middle School students celebrate Saturday after winning first place at the Science Olympiad state competition held in Farmington. Next step is the national competition in Nebraska in May. The Science Olympiad is a nationwide organization dedicated to promoting science education through conducting competitive science tournaments. Teams of up to 15 students meet and compete in about 23 different science events that cover many different areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Some events require constructing a project ahead of time. Others involve on the spot application of skills to a given problem. Individual students win medals for placing in an event, with cumulative scores yielding overall team placement at a tournament. Contributed photo

Posted 02:11 PM
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A Silver Crown for Inklingsnews.com

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Friday brought not only a first day of spring snow but also a Silver Crown Award for Staples High School’s student-run online publication, inklingsnews.com, at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 91st annual Spring Scholastic Convention. Pictured with the award at Columbia University are (l-r) Managing Editor Ale Benjamin, Advisor Cody Thomas, Editor-in-Chief Zoe Brown, Editor-in-Chief Bailey Ethier, Advisor Mary Elizabeth Fulco, and Web Managing Editor Nicole DeBlasi. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 02:02 PM
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Staples Varsity Vogue Set for Friday, March 27

The 18th annual Staples High School Varsity Cheerleading Fashion Show and Auction fundraiser will take place Friday, March 27 at the ballroom of the Westport Inn.

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Proceeds from the Varsity Vogue event will benefit the Staples High School cheerleading squad. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Senior cheerleaders, football and basketball players will take the runway and show off fashions from South Moon Under in downtown Westport. 

The show starts at 7 p.m. and will run until 9:30 p.m.There will be “creative cuisine” and a cash bar to enjoy as attendees cast bids on auction items, an announcement said.

They include:Staples Cheerleader for a Game – Join the Staples cheerleaders on the sidelines for a home football game and will cheer alongside the team.

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Coleytown Company Readies ‘The Addams Family’

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Coleytown Middle School students rehearse for the Coleytown Company’s latest production, “The Addams Family,” which debuts on Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m. Other performances are Friday,  March 27 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 28 at 1 p.m and 7 p.m. The show is directed by Benjamin Frimmer who worked with roster of seasoned theater professionals, including Adam Riegler, assistant director. Riegler, a Westport native and current Staples High School junior, was in the original cast of “The Addams Family” on Broadway. Tickets are available online at showtix4u.com (search term “Westport.”) Pictured (l-r) are Martin Menz, Maggie Foley, Max Herman, JP Patterson, Kristin Amato, Cooper Knapp, Georgia Wright, Anella Lefebvre, Oscar Hechter, and Amanda Samuels. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Kerry Foley photo

Posted 09:00 AM
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Bedford Acting Group Presents ‘Revolting Rhymes…’

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The Bedford Acting Group of Westport’s Bedford Middle School presents the sixth grade play, “Revolting Rhymes & Other Ridiculous Rambles,” next weekend. The master of the comic and bloodcurdling, Roald Dahl, retells several of the best-known fairy tales, with some extremely surprising twists. The play also features poems and stories by Dr. Seuss, Jon Scieska and Shel Silverstein. Performances are Friday and Saturday, March 27-28 at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinees, March 28-29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students (children under 3 free). Tickets are available online here or at the door, subject to availability. Pictured (l-r) are Juliette Henderson, Lys Goldman, Conor Hanley, Madison Tamm, and Alex Watzman. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 08:55 AM
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

With Praise, Finance Board Approves School Budget

By James Lomuscio

With laurels of praise for the Board of Education, Westport’s Board of Finance tonight unanimously approved a $111,471,756 proposed school operating budget, a 2.08 percent increase, for the 2015-16 academic year.

Finance board member after finance board member lauded the school board and the administration, plus the entire budget process. Each said the school board had incorporated Board of Finance input making it fiscally sound and transparent.

“This is the best of the four budgets I’ve seen in my time on the board,’ said John Pincavage, finance board chairman.

“A lot of lessons were learned and learned well,” he added, referring to last year’s budget bungles on health insurance benefits. “So, I feel very good about this.’

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Posted 10:43 PM
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Schools to Host ‘Community Conversation’

The Westport Public Schools and the Westport PTA Council have scheduled a “Community Conversation” on education, featuring representatives from Columbia University’s Teachers’ College, for Wednesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at Staples High School.

“Our hope is that a cross section of all members of the Westport community will come together to discuss the role of schools, parents and the community as a whole in creating ethical, social and civic-minded students,” said Michael Gordon, Board of Education chairman.

“Our Community Conversation is the next step in Westport’s 2025 initiative, which has focused on providing students with the skills they will need to succeed in this new world in which they must compete,” he added.

Representatives from Teachers’ College will begin the evening, giving a short presentation on research from high performing school districts around the world that “are working to embed characteristics such as respect, integrity, harmony, resilience and care in their day to day curriculum,” Gordon said.

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Posted 11:19 AM
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Interim Might Fill Staples Principal’s Post

By James Lomuscio

With the favorite candidate of the two finalists bowing out for principal of Staples High School for another job, the Westport school system has rebooted its search and is even considering an interim principal to fill outgoing Principal John Dodig’s shoes, according to school officials.

“The Staples principal’s job is one of the most important in the district, and we will only recruit and hire a star for that position,” Michael Gordon, chairman of the Board of Education, said today. “If that means choosing an interim for one year, we will make that choice.”

Gordon pointed out that Dodig, who is retiring in June after 14 years at the helm, began as an one-year interim at Staples.

“And it was a very good experience, and he had a very good tenure,” Gordon said.

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Posted 06:10 PM
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Students Encouraged to Enter CHET ‘Dream Big’ Competition

Sponsors are encouraging Westport students in grade K-8 to enter the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) Dream Big Competition before the end of March for a chance to win money for college. 

The competition asks students to share their dreams about life after college in a drawing or essay for a chance to win a CHET 529 College Savings account contribution and promote the importance of saving for college. 

Four students from across Connecticut will win a $1,000 grand prize CHET account contribution with 80 students representing the states eight counties winning a $500 contribution to a CHET account.

Teachers, parents and guardians can print an entry form and find more information, including the Official Rules and entry deadlines, at http://www.chetdreambig.com. Winners will be announced and recognized during a ceremony in May.

Posted 01:39 PM
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Second Staples Principal Candidate Meets With Parents

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Louis B. Moore, principal at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, N.J, met with Staples High School parents today in the school cafeteria. He is the second candidate to meet parents in the selection process to succeed John Dodig, who announced his retirement in December effective in June. Moore, who holds a doctorate in history from Rutgers, was asked why he wants to leave Ramapo. “The pull is Westport,” he said. “I love my school, but this is an extraordinary place.” On Monday, parents met with the other candidate, Frank Costanzo, principal of Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 12:46 PM
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

RTM OKs School Security Communications Funds

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) voted 30 to 1 tonight to approve a $743,114 Board of Education appropriation request for mass notification and two-way radio systems as part of a system wide security initiative for the town’s eight schools.

Elio Longo, school business director, said the mass communication system, which would broadcast word of emergencies through the fire alarm systems, including interior and exterior speakers, as well as have emergency lockdown buttons, has a cost of $480,000 to be offset by an $86,982 state grant.

He said the two-way radio system, a highly complex setup involving digital walkie-talkies, 190 hand sets, and Motorola repeaters that allow communications between schools, carries a cost $262,484 offset by a $54,360 grant.

RTM member Peter Knight of District 8 was the lone dissenter, arguing that the town will have spent more than $1 million on security in the wake of the 2012 Newtown shootings, instead of less costly intervention efforts to prevent internal threats.

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Posted 10:41 PM
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