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Monday, May 25, 2015



Friday, May 22, 2015

Westport Woman’s Club Awards Scholarships Image
The Westport Woman’s Club today presented college scholarships to eight Staples High School seniors and one adult in a ceremony held at the club’s home, 44 Imperial Ave. Posing with the recipients were Principal John Dodig (l) and First Selectman Jim Marpe (r ). They are (l-r), Chidi Chizor (University of Bridgeport), Michael Battone (West Virginia University), Gabriella Marone (Salve Regina University), Tracy Boyer (Southern Connecticut University), Alexis Iannacone (Bryant University), Alaina Washington (Western New England University), Shannon Cardoza (Quinnipiac University), Lauren Reedy (Rollins College), and Matthew Jawowleff (Northeastern University). Chizor, 22, is the recipient of the WWC Adult Woman Scholarship in memory of the late Gerry Munce.  The award was presented by Munce’s daughter, Mary Munce Brewster, a Redding resident. Chizor, who earned her B.S. in psychology from the University of Bridgeport and will earn her Masters in clinical mental health in class of 2016, is a staff member at Bridgeport-based Mercy Learning Center. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 01:06 PM
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Schools: Greenwich ‘Jumped the Gun’ on Staples Principal Offer

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE: Published reports that Greenwich middle school principal Shelly Somers has accepted the offer as principal of Westport’s Staples High School are premature and Greenwich school officials have apologized, Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon said today. Image
Shelly Somers: middle school principal of year. Contributed photo

While confirming that Somers, principal of Greenwich’s Central Middle School, is the finalist after a six-month search, no offer has been made, officials stressed.

According to a statement issued by Landon, “Greenwich has apologized to me and the Westport community for its error.”

Landon’s statement, however, does not seem to diminish his enthusiasm about Somers as a finalist.

“Both Ms. Somers and I are excited about the possibility that she may join our staff,” Landon said. “She is an accomplished leader in Greenwich who enjoys the respect and appreciation of teachers, students, parents and her administrative colleagues. Most recently she was named Connecticut PTA Middle School Principal of the Year.”

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Posted 08:32 AM
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Parents to Vet Finalist for Dodig Replacement

By James Lomuscio

After a nearly six-month, nationwide search for a new principal of Westport’s Staples High School, the search committee has narrowed the field to “one extraordinary candidate,” committee members said Monday in an email to parents.

Now, the finalist, who was not identified, will have to pass the parent test at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, at 9 a.m. in the Staples cafeteria, school officials said.

Written feedback from Staples parents will be solicited and provided to the Board of Education before a final decision is made, the administration noted.

The search committee for the replacement of Principal John Dodig, who is retiring after 11 years at the helm, consisted of teachers, parents, students and administrators.

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Posted 02:15 PM
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Monday, May 18, 2015

Screenings Scheduled for ‘At Risk’ Preschoolers

The Westport school system has scheduled screenings for preschool children “at risk for learning” for Friday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Coleytown Elementary School (CMS) at 65 Easton Road, school officials announced today.

The screenings will identify preschool children “at risk” for learning as determined by federal and local Title I eligibility criteria, which looks at a child’s development in the areas of concepts, language, and motor, school officials said. The current Title I program is incorporated into the Westport preschool program, Stepping Stones Preschool.

To qualify for a child screening, expected to take 45 minutes, a parent must be a resident of Westport whose child will be three years old by September. Screenings are by appointment only.

School officials ask parents interested in setting up an appointment to contact Carol Haberlin at 203-341-1712. Those who have questions about Title I or would like to learn more about Stepping Stones Preschool are asked to contact Gwen Goldman at 203-341-1764.

Posted 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Staples Improves to No, 7 in U.S. News CT Rankings

Westport’s Staples High School came in No. 7 in Connecticut in the latest U.S. News and World Report best high school rankings. Nationally it was No. 329. Image

A year ago in the survey, Staples was No. 9 in the state and No. 303 nationally.

Staples this year came in behind Weston at No. 5 but ahead of Fairfield County schools Darien (8)  Wilton (9), and Ridgefield (11).

The Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy of East Hartford was rated No. 1 in Connecticut and No. 34 nationally.

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Posted 04:41 PM
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School Board to Commence Super Search

Following the announcement that Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon will retire at the end of the 2015-16 academic year, the Westport Board of Education is looking for a successor.

It announced it will “engage a search firm with a national scope that has worked with high performing districts such as ours.”

“Now, for the first time in 17 years, the Westport Board of Education will commence a search for a new superintendent who will begin serving upon Dr. Landon’s retirement,” Michael Gordon, school board chairman, said in a letter signed by six other board members.

“The board is prepared for a thoughtful and thorough search process.”

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Posted 10:09 AM
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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Gordon’s Firm Wins Top Honors, Again Image
Westporter Michael Gordon’s New York City-based public relations firm, Group Gordon, was selected for the second year in row Tuesday night as “Best Agency to Work For” by the Holmes Report, a benchmark of PR firm culture and workplace performance. The firm run by Gordon, who is chairman of Westport’s Board of Education, has 20 employees. They celebrated outside the awards venue afterward. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 07:41 AM
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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

At RTM, a Slam Dunk for School Budget

By James Lomuscio

Velma Heller, a former educator, school booster, and deputy moderator of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM), tonight made a motion, uttering words she never believed she would say—to reduce the finance board approved 2015-16 school operating budget by $300,000.

The reason: the school board had requested it, showing due diligence as it presented a leaner $111,171,756 operating budget hammered out at the Board of Education’s Monday night meeting. At that meeting, school officials found reductions in special educations costs for out-of-district placements

The end result was a school board slam dunk as the RTM unanimously approved the modified operating budget—a 1.8 percent increase over the current year and the lowest increase in five years—making next year’s total education budget $123,582,074, including the school system’s debt service and aid to private and parochial schools.

The RTM then unanimously passed the whole town budget—including the a $78.9 million municipal budget approved Monday night—of $202,505,295.

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Posted 09:20 PM
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Monday, May 04, 2015

Suburban Schools See Student Poverty Growing

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

The number of students from poor families attending suburban schools in Connecticut is rising.

Numerous legislators say these increases justify providing $14.2 million in additional state aid over the next two fiscal years to help several suburban districts cover the cost of educating these high-need students.

Click here for more of story

Posted 04:48 PM
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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Westport Educators Honored Image
The Connecticut Parent Teacher Association tonight honored Westport Staples High School Principal John Dodig as High School Principal of the Year and Schools Superientendent Elliott Landon as the 2015 Outstanding Superintendent. The awards were given at the group’s annual awards banquet in Milford. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 09:04 PM
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Final Concert Image
Seniors at Westport’s Staples High School tonight played their final concert. It was the 11th and 12th grade spring concert. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lawrence J. Zlatkin for

Posted 10:10 PM
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

GFA Honored as Sustainable School

The U.S. Department of Education has named Westport’s Greens Farms Academy (GFA) a national Green Ribbon School.

The announcement was made Wednesday, Earth Day by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The award, given annually by the U.S. Department of Education, acknowledges schools that are leading the way in sustainable practices.

The awarding committee looks for schools that are reducing their environmental impact and costs; improving the school’s health and wellness; and are providing an environmental education.

Among the many sustainable practices in place at GFA are composting in the cafeteria (which students then use in the school’s organic garden); using of solar panels; and hosting a variety of “eco events” both within the school and the community.

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Posted 04:09 PM
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Public School Kindergarten Registrations Under Way

The 2015-16 Westport public school kindergarten registrations are under way.

The district asked families moving to Westport for the new school year and parents of entering kindergartners to register their children at this time. 

“Please don’t wait until the last minute,” said Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon. “Let us know now that you are here so we may plan for the optimal education for your youngsters.”

Those who are not sure of their district elementary school can find the information on the school district website, or they may call the superintendent’s office, 203-341-1026. 

Posted 10:37 AM
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Westport Student at MIT Wins $250,000 Fellowship

A Westport student at MIT, Alex Siegenfeld, was among 12 persons announced Tuesday as recipients of the prestigious Hertz Fellowship worth $250,000 from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. Image
Alex Siegenfeld: studying physics. Contributed photo

Each fellowship consists of up to five years of financial, mentoring and community support as well as research freedom at a participating U.S. graduate institution.

Siegenfeld attended the Pierrepont School in Westport where he finished second as a middle schooler in a statewide math competition. He then went on to the Hopkins School in New Haven where he won a gold medal in the International Chemistry Olympiad in Tokyo. (See WestportNow Aug. 2, 2010)

The announcement said at MIT he is “interested in combining chemical intuition with mathematical rigor to further the understanding of materials with exotic and useful properties.”

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Posted 02:16 PM
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Students Win Writing Awards Image
CMS Winners: Charles Effman and Samantha Gefen. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Three Westport students have earned recognition in the annual Connecticut Student Writers contest, sponsored by the University of Connecticut Department of English.

This contest, which is open to all students K-12 in the state, features categories of poetry, fiction, essay and drama.

The Westport winners are Charles Effman, Coleytown Middle School (CMS) seventh grade, (published) for his poem “Trees,” Samantha Gefen, CMS seventh grade grade (honorable mention) for her poem “Evidence Eater,” and Staples Hight School senior Julian Garrison (honorable mention) for his poem “You, Etched in Silver.”

The students will be honored at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at the UCONN campus in Storrs.

Posted 11:32 AM
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