Monday, August 29, 2016
At today’s Bedford Milldle School convocaton for teachers, Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer (r) introduced Mary Elizabeth (ME) Fulco as Teacher of the Year. Fulco teaches English and journalism at Staples High School and is mentor for Inklings, the school newspaper. The annual event was held in advance of Thursday’s school opening. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday, August 18, 2016
By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Andrew Ba Tranwww.ctmirror.org
About half of the 234,000 elementary and middle school students tested during the last school year were not at grade level in reading or math, state education officials announced today.
But a higher proportion of students were at grade level than in the previous year.
In math, 44 percent of students tested last spring were at grade level compared to 40.1 percent in spring 2015. On the English exam, which includes reading and writing, 55.7 percent of students tested last spring were at goal compared to 52.4 percent the previous year.
Education officials said the scores showed both how much progress had been made and how far the schools still have to go.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
New Staples High School Principal James D’Amico today detailed qualities he seeks to instill in graduating seniors. Addressing the Westport Rotary Club’s weekly meeting, he said they include emotional and social awareness; kindness with sincerity in relationships with all fellow students; highest principles in thought and action, and always learning. Referring to some of the challenges he faces, D’Amico said bullying issues are high on the list, particularly cyber-bullying and the use of social media. Asked by a Rotary member if he is prepared to sing and dance in Staples Players productions as other principals have done, D’Amico said he is well prepared because in his high school days he played Bernardo in “West Side Story” and Motel, the tailor in “Fiddler on the Roof.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
By James Lomuscio
When school opens Thursday, Sept. 1, Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer’s responsibilities will be more than double that of her previous post in neighboring Weston, but she says she is ready for the challenges.
As Weston’s superintendent for the past five years, she oversaw a system that served 2,400 students. Now, it’s 5,600 for Palmer who came on board July 1, succeeding Elliott Landon, who retired after 17 years.
In Weston, she was responsible for a School Road campus of four schools. Now she oversees eight schools spread across town.
Westport’s 2016-17 operating budget of $113 million is more than double Weston’s $49 million budget this year. And she admits she and the school board will not be able to repeat this year’s lauded, 1.29 percent budget increase.
Friday, August 05, 2016
By James Lomuscio
Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer said today that the scores from this spring’s state mandated SATs for juniors are not accurate indicators of future student success. She said she puts more stock in official College Board reports to come.
Palmer made this comment despite the fact Westport’s scores released in a state report Wednesday are in line with other school systems in the district reference group (DIRG).
Of the 431 graded tests, the average score for English and language arts in Westport was 598, 599 in math.
Palmer said the College Board report expected in mid-September for the Class of 2016 would offer a better assessment of student achievement.
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
Test results released by the state Department of Education showed 91 percent of Westport junior high school students met or exceeded the standard for career and college ready in the SAT English tests admnistered in March. Students are considered college and career ready if they scored at least 480 out of 800. Comparisons with neighboring districts are available here. The results are from the first Connecticut SAT School Day, a new test that more closely aligns with the skills and knowledge students need to be college- and career-ready. These results mark the first time all Connecticut 11th graders took the SAT. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org graphic
Test results released by the state Department of Education showed 75.5 percent of Westport junior high school students met or exceeded the standard for career and college ready in the SAT math tests administered in March. The state said 433 Westport students took the test. Students are considered college and career ready if they scored at least 530 out of 800. Comparisons with neighboring districts are available here. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org graphic
By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Andrew Ba Tranwww.ctmirror.org
One-third of high school juniors are not reading and writing well enough to begin taking college courses or start a career, statewide SAT results released Tuesday show. While thousands of those students are close to being where they should be, one out of every six high school junior in Connecticut is significantly behind.
Math results are even more dire – nearly two-thirds are behind and one-quarter of all juniors are significantly behind.
Minorities and students from low-income families were far behind state averages.
Calling it “concerning” that so many students are testing below where they should be, Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the chief performance officer for the state education department, said there is still hope they can catch up.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Barbara A. (Simonton) Lasher of Tolland, former principal of Westport’s Long Lots Elementary School, died July 15 at home. She was 77.
Lasher served 12 years at Long Lots before her retirement in 2005.
She was born July 15, 1939 in Queens, N.Y., the daughter of the late Herbert and Marguerite (Coulter) Simonton.
A dedicated and passionate educator, she taught in New York and Tolland before becoming a principal in Mansfield and then Westport.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
A group of 20 Chinese middle school students from Westport’s sister city of Yangzhou today visited Bedford Middle School. Principal Adam Rosen, joined by new Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer (r), greeted the students and took them on a school tour. Meanwhile, a group of 22 Staples High School students left on a 17-day trip to China with destinations that include Shanghai, Suzhou, Moganshan, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Yangzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an, and Beijing. CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
For the second consecutive year, the Staples High School Orphenians tonight sang the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium. The appearance followed a moment of silence for the Orlando massacre victims. See video here. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Morgaine Pauker for WestportNow.com
Members of the Staples High School Orphenians take to the field tonight at Yankee Stadium to sing the National Anthem. Pictured (l-r) Colin McKecknie, Oliver Smith, Daniel Pauker, Keenan Pucci, and Wells Baumann. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Morgaine Pauker for WestportNow.com
Friday, June 17, 2016
Scenes from today’s Staples High School graduation ceremony. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Former Staples High School Principal John Dodig, who retired a year ago after 11 years as school head, was a face in the crowd today at the school’s 129th commencement ceremony. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By Emily Weyrauch
Today’s Staples High School graduation was an especially poignant one for the 489 members of the class of 2016 as well as for Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon.
It was the last in Landon’s 17-year tenure as schools head. He took over in 1999 as many of the graduates were just beginning their academic career.
“Many of you entered kindergarten under my watch. I’ve seen you grow ... I have learned so much from all of you,” he told them.
Landon said that despite differences—in race, ethnicity, gender, beliefs, and more—“We are all in this together.”
Staples salutatorian and nationally ranked track star Hannah DeBalsi today receives congratulations from assistant principal Karyn Morgan, who is retiring this year. DeBalsi, who will attend Stanford University, at Thursday night’s baccalaureate ceremony compared life to a final race. “The first lap goes by really quickly with all the adrenaline ... on the last lap some people peter out and die,” she said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Westport Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon, retiring after 17 years, today told 2016 Staples High School graduates at the graduation ceremony: “Many of you entered kindergarten under my watch. I have learned so much from all of you” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Emily Weyrauch for WestportNow.com
Staples High School valedictorian William Andrews told the graduating class of 2016 at today’s graduation ceremony: “I implore all of you to practice kindness in your lives. Emily Weyrauch for WestportNow.com
Westport Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon, who is retiring this year after17 years, leads the Staples High School graduation procession today with Denise Honeycutt, a Staples teacher who is also retiring after 39 years. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) David Dreyfuss for WestportNow.com
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Hannah DeBalsi, nationally recognized track star and this year’s Staples HIgh School salutatorian, addresses an overflow crowd tonight at the baccalaureate ceremony for the class of 2016 at the high school auditorium. “Life is like a final race,” she said. ‘The first lap goes by really quickly with all the adrenaline ... on the last lap some people peter out and die.” The graduation ceremony takes place on Friday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
There was an overflow crowd tonight for the Staples High School annual baccalaureate ceremony for the class of 2016 at the high school auditorium on the eve of graduation day. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
At tonight’s Staples High School baccalaureate ceremony, retiring assistant principal Karyn Morgan was presented with a bouquet from the class of 2016 by by master of ceremonies Vignesh Namasivayam, head of Staples Players. She told the graduating seniors: “Without hesitation, I am able to say that because of your character, your ideals, your scholarship, your sense of humor and your love and compassion for each other, our world is going to be in good hands.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Scenes from tonight’s Staples High School baccalaureate ceremony. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
To the Editor:
The Westport school district has just completed its most impactful year in a generation. Starting July 1, our two important new hires will begin their leadership posts: Dr. Colleen Palmer as superintendent and Mr. James D’Amico as principal of Staples. Both have significant experience as academic leaders and will foster continuous improvement in our already-strong school district.
Connecting with Our Community
Stay tuned for a calendar of upcoming opportunities this summer and fall for members of the community to meet our new superintendent, Dr. Palmer. She is planning a host of informal coffees, meetings, and gatherings at which she would enjoy hearing perspectives on what is cherished most about our district and what are areas that might be explored for further enhancement. We encourage everyone to participate in one of these events and personally welcome our new superintendent.
Starting next year, our schools will be guided by four principles that embody the values we aspire to for our students and ourselves: social and emotional awareness, kindness with sincerity, principled in thought and action, and learning always. Known as the “Guiding Principles,” these are ways of being that will make up the fabric of everything we do in Kindergarten through 12th grade both in and out of the classroom. Having these clearly articulated guiding principles truly sets Westport apart in giving our children proven skills needed to succeed long after they graduate.
New for Next Year
The budget we developed for next year saw the leanest increase in many years - and yet we are making many program improvements. Starting in September, Staples will introduce nine new courses across multiple subject areas. Each elementary school will have a half-time science coach and dedicated laboratory, further enhancing our commitment to that discipline. We also are incorporating new elements of strategic planning that align our budget closely with longer-term goals. We want to thank our administrators who put together a budget that moved us forward academically while remaining fiscally disciplined. We also want to thank our outstanding teachers and staff who meet our mission for Westport’s children each day.
The Saugatuck Elementary School Caring Council today celebrated the school’s bus drivers and bus monitors with lots of gratitude, coffee, donuts and handmade cards. Bus Monitor Joe Castellano is pictured with fifth graders Sophie Spheeris and Janna Moore. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Conributed photo
Monday, June 13, 2016
UPDATE Westport Board of Education members, including chair Michael Gordon (l), and others honored retiring Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon tonight for his 17 years of service in a pre-meeting ceremony. Gordon said he consulted Landon’s son in coming up with a personal gift and learned that his father was interested in cooking. So he presented him with pans, an apron, and cooking lessons. He also received a a plaque at Staples in his honor and a plaque/proclamation from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. Said Landon of his Westport career: “It’s been a great ride.” He thanked board members for always letting “Elliott be Elliott.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Among 28 retiring Westport school employees honored at tonight’s Board of Education meeting were husband and wife teachers Jim and Denise Honeycutt with 39 years service. Jim told the meeeting that he and Denise met in 1980 when he was transferred from Coleytown Junior High to Long Lots Junior High. In 1984, they were both transferred to Staples. “One year later we were married,” he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday, June 09, 2016
James Naughton, two-time Tony Award winner and Weston resident, tonight served as emcee of the Staples High School pops concert at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. The concert featured instrumental and vocal groups from Staples and marked the culmination of the school year and its nationally recognized music program. The Levitt summer season of concerts will begin later this month. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com