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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Students Tell Staples Grads ‘Be Yourself,’ ‘Help Each Other’

By James Lomuscio

The two student speakers at Staples High School 130th commencement exercises today seemed polar opposites when discussing their academic experiences over the past four years. Yet upon closer examination, their themes could not have been more in sync. Image
Staples valedictorian Emily Hope Schussheim talked of her love of elephants. She will attend Yale in the fall.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Megan Patricia Hines was first to speak to the 428 graduating seniors in the Staples Field House before an estimated 4,000 parents, relatives and friends. The first class speaker in a Staples graduation ceremony, her slot was an honor innovation by first year Staples Principal James D’Amico.

Megan, who will be attending the University of Rhode Island in the fall, gave an upbeat and bubbly overview of Staples, despite putting all of her struggles on the table. Megan came right out saying that unlike others, she never took an AP or honors class.

She also spoke about the stress of trying to keep up with high academic expectations around her and the depression that followed during the spring of junior year. 

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06/22/17 04:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

Gallery: Staples High School Class of 2017 Graduation

Scenes from today’s Staples High School Class of 2017 graduation ceremony. Dave Matlow for


06/22/17 04:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Leading the Procession Image
Staples High School Music Director Nick Mariconda carried the scepter at today’s Staples graduation ceremony as the senior faculty member.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/22/17 03:55 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gallery: Baccalaureate Ceremony for Staples Class of 2017

Scenes from tonight’s baccalaureate ceremony for the Staples High School Class of 2017, Dave Matlow for


06/21/17 10:01 PM Comments () • Permalink

Cameo Appearance Image
Former Staples High School Principal John Dodig had a role in the Class of 2017’s “Car Pool Karaoke” shown at the end of the baccalaureate ceremony tonight.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/21/17 09:33 PM Comments () • Permalink

Salutatorian: ‘Compete and Live Fully’ Image
Staples High School salutatorian Christopher Scherban told 2017 classmates tonight that on his move to Westport in the 10th grade he heard from other students of a Staples culture of competition. He said he soon adapted by being an “extremist competitor” but not in the usual way. He learned at Staples, competition does not fracture, “it is the very thing that draws us together,’ he said. “You learn to compete with yourself,” His advice to classmates: “Your time is running out. Stop wasting it fretting about brands and branding, cults and clothing, There is no room for half measures and nor will there ever be. Go out to your colleges and to your universities and live deliberately. Enjoy yourself. Most importantly, compete and live fully.” Christopher will attend Georgia Tech in the fall.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/21/17 09:28 PM Comments () • Permalink

Full House for Baccalaureate Ceremony Image
It was a full house tonight at the Staples High School auditorium for the Class of 2017 baccalaureate ceremony. Graduation takes place at 2 p.m. Thursday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/21/17 09:23 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, June 15, 2017

History Trail Leads to Washington, D.C. Image
Five eighth grade students at Bedford Middle School are returning to Westport today after four days in Washington, D.C., where they participated in the finals of the National History Day competition. They advanced to the finals after winning at the Fairfield County and state level. While they did not win at the nationals, they enjoyed a whirlwind experience in the nation’s capital representing Connecticut, including meetings with U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal. Pictured on a visit to the U.S. Senate are (l-r) Anna Hill, Daniel Rosenkranz, Preston Rainey, Konur Nordberg, and Justin Lessing. All are 14 except for Daniel, who is 13. For their entry, they created an exhibit titled “Claudette Colvin: The Forgotten Match that Sparked the Civil Rights Movement.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


06/15/17 12:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, June 12, 2017

Board Picks Maine Superintendent to Head Long Lots Elementary

By James Lomuscio

After a five-month search, Westport’s Board of Education tonight hired a Maine schools superintendent to serve as principal of Long Lots Elementary School effective July.1. Image
Debra Dunn: from superintendent to principal. Contributed photo

Debra L. Dunn, schools superintendent of the York Public Schools, was hired by a vote of 6 to 0 with 1 abstention, as Michael Gordon, school board chairman, said he had not yet had the opportunity to interview her.

Dunn replaces Principal Jeffrey M. Golubchick, who had been placed on “paid administrative leave without prejudice” in February and whose contract expires June 30. Michael Cicchetti has since served as interim principal to finish out the school year.

“We feel the nominee we bring forward is the right person at the right time,” said Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer.

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06/12/17 10:07 PM Comments () • Permalink

Letter: Thanks From the Superintendent

To the Editor:

Education and the pursuit of learning have been my lifelong profession. Last Friday night, at the Westport Pops Concert, I had an epiphany that dramatized and clarified our educational mission in Westport.

In its aftermath, I am still processing the profound impact that event had on me and on the entire audience.  Beyond the exquisite music performed, the evening sent powerful messages to our students. 

They were told that their music is cherished, their hard work to perfect their talent is honored, and with such distinguished guest host, James Naughton and Lincoln Center’s Andrew Wilk as their guest conductor, they were told that they could be anything they wished to be.  This evening under the stars taught each one of them that the stars are reachable.

Too few students in public education are afforded such extraordinary pathways to success. To everyone who contributed to this extraordinary evening, I extend the gratitude of the Westport Board of Education and our entire district. 

Colleen Palmer
Westport Superintendent of Schools


06/12/17 09:58 AM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, June 09, 2017

Drone View of Staples Pops Concert Image
A drone view of tonight’s Levitt Pavilion Staples High School pops concert (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Still frame from Brandon Malin video


06/09/17 10:12 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, June 08, 2017

All Smiles at Graduation Image
Greens Farms Academy graduating senior Miles Feuer of Westport celebrates today after receiving his diploma. GFA’s commencement ceremony featured 83 graduates from 15 communities in New York and Connecticut. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


06/08/17 01:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

Greens Farms Academy Graduates 83 Image
Westport’s Greens Farms Academy hosted its annual Commencement Ceremony today. This year there were 83 graduates from 15 communities in New York and Connecticut. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


06/08/17 01:03 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

PAL Awards Scholarships Image
The Westport Police Athletic League (PAL) today awarded its annual college scholarships to 18 Staples High School seniors in addition to the Ellis Family scholarships to three current college students at a ceremony at Westport Police Headquarters. Pictured (front row, l-r) James Farnen (Providence College), Chandler O’Reardon, Kellie Iannacone (Villanova), Samantha Little (McGill), Olivia Troy (UConn), Ned Batlin, PAL president; (second row) Matt Kashetta (James Madison), Ryan Caulfield (Pitt), Sarah Barnett (Dartmouth), Katherine Weinschenk (Virginia), Lydia Shaw (Yale), Thomas Moy (Washington University); (back row) Howie Friedman, chairman, PAL Scholarship Committee, Christian Franzese (Pitt), Brittany Kelly (Sacred Heart), Ashley Constantino (Bentley), Alex Pesantez (Syracuse), Kenny Brill (Elon), and Griffin O’Neill (Providence). Not pictured: Ellis Family Scholarship recipients Matthew and Alyson Librandi, and Luciano Athletic Scholars John Backus and Colleen Bannon. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/06/17 07:47 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Gallery: Staples Senior Prom

Scenes from the Staples High School senior prom Saturday night at the Stamford Marriott. J.C. Martin for


06/04/17 09:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Comings & Goings: Meliora Education Opens Image
A ribbon-cutting ceremony today marked the official opening of Meliora Education, a college admission preparatory tutoring service at 38 Post Road West . It is owned by Yearsley Winkler, a graduate of Staples High School, class of 2003, and Yale University, class of 2007, who earned an M.A at the University of Warwick (England) and is now pursuing his Ph.D. at Temple University. He also provides pro bono tutoring at magnet schools such as Bridgeport’s Aerospace/Hydrospace Engineering & Physical Sciences. Pictured are Matthew Mandell, executive director, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, First Selectman Jim Marpe, Winkler, and Jay Lipp, principal, Aerospace/Hydrospace Engineering & Physical Sciences. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/03/17 08:58 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, May 26, 2017

Woman’s Club Awards Scholarships Image
The Westport Woman’s Club (WWC) today awarded college tuition grants to 10 seniors among Staples High School Class of 2017 and to one Bridgeport-based adult. Recipients posed for a group photo with club officials and invited guests. According to Arlene Thrope, WWC Scholarship Committee chair the amount distributed today totals $27,500. Recipients included: Michaela Jampierre (University of Massachusetts), Mikayla Czizik (New York University), Elianne Shapiro (Princeton University), Griffin O’Neill (Providence College), Sarah Barnett (Dartmouth College), Sasha Arellano (University of Delaware),  Grace Connell (Catholic University of America), Mangabu M. Kalala (Western Connecticut State University), Chandler O’Reardon (Bard College), and Katherine Weinschenk (University of Virginia). Absent:  Kenneth Brill (Elon University) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


05/26/17 11:45 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

PBA Awards Scholarships Image
The 11th annual Westport Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Wilbur Scholarship Fund grants were presented today to 10 recipients by Officer Brendan Fearon, PBA president, at police headquarters.  The Wilbur Scholarship Fund grants program was founded in 2007 by Dennis and Joan Poster who were also the principal sponsors of this year’s awards. Bill Mitchell, a sponsor and long-time member of the Wilbur Scholarship board, also attended the event. Each recipient received a check in the amount of $3,500. Pictured are (l-r) Bill Mitchell, Logan Rice, 20, of Trumbull, Charlie Sampson, 18, of Derby, Officer Brendan Fearon, Mariah Ventrella, 19, of Norwalk, Dennis Poster, Christopher Wolf, 18, of Oxford and Joan Poster. Three recipients were unavailable to attend the event—Brittany Kelley of Shelton, Matthew Librandi of Stamford, and Amber Myer of Fairfield. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


05/24/17 09:46 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, May 22, 2017

Westporter Off to Become U.S. Senate Page

Ethan Parker, 16, of Westport is off to Washington, D.C. this summer to work as a U.S. Senate page under the sponsorship of New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate minority leader. Image
Ethan Parker: passion for politics. Contributed photo

The Greens Farms Academy honor roll sophomore is one of 30 students from across the country who will serve the 100 senators.

His passion for politics goes back to elementary school when he closely followed the 2008 presidential election won by Barack Obama over John McCain.

“I was this 8-year-old kid watching the debates, speeches and party conventions,” Ethan said. “I even had a map that I updated daily, marked with red and blue states, electoral numbers and the candidates.”

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05/22/17 05:22 PM Comments () • Permalink

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Staples Junior Earns Perfect ACT Score: ‘I Was Pretty Surprised’

Julia Feldman, a junior at Staples High School, has earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36 on her first try. Image
Julia Feldman: she babysits, too. Contributed photo

The ACT college readiness assessment is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions produced by ACT, a nonprofit of the same name.

On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score.

“When I checked the scores and saw that I had gotten a 36 on the ACT, I was pretty surprised,” Julia said.

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05/20/17 10:15 PM Comments () • Permalink

Off to the Junior Prom (3) Image
Another pre-prom picture taking session today at a home on Clapboard Hill Road before the Staples High School junior prom. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


05/20/17 05:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Greeting Next Generation Image
Dignitaries were aplenty today at the Saugatuck Congregational Church as Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe (r), Weston First Selectman Nina Daniel (c), and Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer addressed the Westport-Weston Y’s Men. During a break in the meeting, they took time to greet some of the students at the church’s nursery school. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo


05/18/17 01:09 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Palmer Raises New Threat of Bus Drivers Strike

Westport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer told parents today there is a renewed threat of a bus drivers strike on Thursday. Image
School buses at the Dattco lot on Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The district and drivers from Dattco Bus Company represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371, have been in negotiations since the current contract expired at midnight April 26. On May 3, drivers voted to authorize their leadership to call a strike if needed.

“Negotiations are continuing, but we have been advised by Dattco to prepare for a possible strike on Thursday morning this week if negotiations on Wednesday are not sufficiently productive.” Palmer said in an email to parents.

“With that in mind, I want to remind you that in the event of strike, our schools will be open.

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05/16/17 02:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bedford Presents ‘Art 2017’ Image
Westport’s Bedford Middle School tonight presented “Art 2017: Celebrating a Year of Creativity.” Turning itself into the Bedford Museum of Fine Artists for the evening, the school offered up music,  artwork, and food under the direction of art teachers Lynn Karmen, Cecily Anderson, and Mark DeRosa. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


05/15/17 08:09 PM Comments () • Permalink

On Display Image
One of the artworks on display tonight at Westport’s Bedford Middle School as it presented “Art 2017: Celebrating a Year of Creativity.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


05/15/17 08:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

Saugatuck Students Begin Week-Long Walkathon Image
The Saugatuck Elementary School today kicked off its week-long walkathon to raise money for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. The camp was founded in 1998 by Westporter Paul Newman with a mission ito “provide a different kind of healing to seriously ill children in the Northeast, free of charge.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


05/15/17 10:47 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Honor for Change for Syria Staples Students Image
The World Affairs Council of Connecticut tonight awarded its Global Engagement Award to students from Staples High School for their Change for Syria community efforts to bring attention to the Syrian refugee crisis and to raise funds for displaced Syrians. On hand for the dinner presentation in Hartford were Contemporary World Studies teacher Catherine Shager and students Julia Ethier, Eli Debenham, Molly Liebergall, Michael Simons,Theo Koskoff, Emir Beg, and Sarah Maybruck. (Not pictured: Eden Schumer). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


05/11/17 07:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Music to Their Ears Image
Adele Cutrali-Valovich, director of orchestral music at Staples High School, today brought the Staples Chamber Orchestra to the Saugatuck Congregational Church to play for the Y’s Men of Westport Weston. Thirty-two musicians played three numbers while Cutrali-Valovich introduced the musicians and talked about the schools’ instrumental music programs. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for


05/11/17 12:53 PM Comments () • Permalink

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Top Honors for Staples Underwater Robotics Team Image
A team of Staples High School students engaged in underwater robotics today won top honors at a competition in Sandwich, Massachusetts and a right to advance to an international competition. Team Curriodyssea, made up of students Nick Durkin, John McNab, and Daniel Westphal (all 10th graders) and Nathan Wang (9th grader), competed in the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center’s (MATE) New England Regional Competition. The MATE competition requires teams to design, build, and program underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), utilizing math, engineering, and computer science skills. The ROVs are challenged to perform missions (in a swimming pool) modeled after scenarios from the undersea workplace. Curriodyssea came home with first place awards in engineering evaluation, mission (for highest scoring ROV on the underwater challenges), technical report, and poster display. By winning first place overall, they qualified to compete in Long Beach, California on June 23-25, where their underwater ROV (named H2rOver) will face 27 other teams from the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe, and Africa. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


05/06/17 06:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Letter: BOE Says RTM Vote Investment in Future

To the Editor:

This week’s vote by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) is an investment in the future of our town, our schools, and our children It also sends a strong signal of support to Dr. Palmer, our outstanding new superintendent, and her vision for an academically-thriving, fiscally-disciplined, and kind organization.

We’d like to thank the many, many members of the Westport community, including our wonderful students, who were engaged and effective throughout this budget process.

We also would like to thank all of the hard-working, thoughtful volunteers on the PTA, RTM, and Board of Finance who help keep our schools on a track of continuous improvement.  Most importantly, we’d like to thank the truly excellent staff of the Westport Public Schools who meet the mission for our children every day.

Westport Board of Education

Michael Gordon, Chair
Jeannie Smith, Vice Chair
Elaine Whitney, Secretary
Karen Kleine
Mark Mathias
Vik Muktavaram
Candice Savin



05/04/17 10:13 AM Comments () • Permalink

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