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Thursday, June 08, 2017

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

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Palmer: School Bus Drivers Authorize Strike

Westport school bus drivers have voted to authorize their leadership to call a strike if needed, Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer said tonight. Image
School buses at the Dattco lot on Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

But, in tweets and an email to parents, she said such authorization does not mean they will strike.

A contract with the drivers, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371, expired at midnight Wednesday, April 26.. Negotiations resumed on Monday.

“This vote does not mean they will strike,” Palmer said. “Dattco assures us drivers do not plan to strike now as negotiations continue.”

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05/03/17 10:10 PM Comments () • Permalink

Letter: Thank You for Restoration of Educational Funds

To the Editor:

I want to send out two massive thank you messages to our town. All of our town.

First, thank you to the RTM for delivering this rare supermajority vote to restore more money back to our great schools than the Board of Finance was willing to do. Secondly, a big heartfelt shout out to all the parents, PTA, and especially the students for engaging in this process.

I am proud that our petition, just one month old, gave people a voice. In that short time to secure over 1,700 online signatures and more than 500 written signatures is an achievement for the community — not for me.

To have more than 500 written comments from the public in one document was more than we expected or asked for. To see our students stand up to speak, one after another last night, made me proud for all of our town and its future.

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05/03/17 01:33 PM Comments () • Permalink

RTM Restores $390,000 to School Budget

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE After four-and-a-half hours of discussions, debates and comments from parents, PTA members, students, and Board of Finance members, Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) voted narrowly early today to restore $390,000 to the 2017-18 school operating budget. Image
Staples sophomore Arthur Shapiro told the meeting, “The reason we moved to this town was because of the schools.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The 12:10 a.m. vote — coming after two-thirds of the exhausted members backed a motion to cut off debate — was 26 to 7.

Voting no were: Catherine Calise, Sylina Levy, Kristan Hamlin, Seth Braunstein, Peter Gold, Dee Chapman, and Carla Rea. The 26 yes votes were 2 more than the 70 percent of those present needed to restore what the Board of Finance had rejected at its April 5 meeting.

At that session, finance members restored $310,000 of the $700,000 requested by the Board of Education. (See WestportNow April 6, 2017)

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05/03/17 12:25 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

An Educational Plea from a 7-Year-Old Image
Among those addressing the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) tonight as it considered restoration of $390,000 to the education budget was Nakul Sethi, 7, a Long Lots Elementary School first grader. “Please restore the budget so I can have a good education in Westport,” he said. Nakul and his family arrived in Westport this year from Singapore. Even though RTM members could not see him behind the podium, they could hear his loud and clear voice.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


05/02/17 09:58 PM Comments () • Permalink

Letter: Signs Gone But Campaign More Active

To the Editor:

It was great to see our signs on WestportNow today.

Unfortunately, every single sign about the school budget on North Avenue was removed — presumed stolen — overnight. I contacted the police, and they were clear they would not have removed them. Image
Some of the signs on North Avenue before they disappeared overnight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

It’s great that you were able to post a picture before these signs that were intended to promote a local issue and tonight’s public meeting were removed.

Rather than get angry, our campaign is getting more active. We don’t have time or the money to print and replace the signs. So we are getting creative and doing everything we can to promote tonight’s important town meeting.

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05/02/17 01:10 PM Comments () • Permalink

Signs of a Debate to Come Tonight—Now Gone Image
UPDATE Signs supporting the Board of Education’s budget have appeared along two stretches of North Avenue near Staples High School and Bedford Middle School in advance of tonight’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) consideration of the budget. However, resident Robert Harrington said someone removed them all early today, and a report has been made to Westport police.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo


05/02/17 12:14 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, May 01, 2017

Staples Names Students of the Month Image
Staples High School today announced its latest Students of the Month. The award program recognizes students who help make the school a welcoming place for their peers and teachers alike. They are nominated by their teachers, who are asked to select all-around good school citizens. Pictured areback row, l-r)  Eli Debenham, George Kane, Enrique Pesantez, Ethan Vosper, Conner Frank, Alexandra Milberg and Spencer Stefani; (middle row) Claire Meehan, Kristin Amato, Zachary Kornbluth, Conor Hanley and Philip De Munck; (front row) Maria Hodge, Art Kelly, Kate Lewis, and Federica Nagar​; (front) Peyton Anderson; missing from picture: Katie Simpson. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


05/01/17 11:22 AM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Going to Nationals Image
Two 10-year-old fourth graders in the workshop (gifted) program at Westport’s Kings Highway Elementary School advanced Saturday at the state finals of the Connecticut Invention Convention at UCONN in Storrs to the National Invention Convention. Kate Watkins (l) and Samantha Henske will go on June 1 to 3 to the event at the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Kate invented the “Wat Wat Win”—the Watkins Watch Window. It allows the wearer of a coat to be able to access and utilize their smartwatch or fitness tracker on their wrist without removing their gloves or adjusting their coat sleeves. Samantha invented the “Backpack Barricade,” which affixes under a school bus seat and provides a safe, clean, comfortable place to store a backpack. The Connecticut Invention Convention is a nonprofit educational program designed to develop and enhance critical thinking skills in children in grades K-8. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


04/30/17 08:16 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, April 28, 2017

Love for Sneakers Launches Teen’s Lucrative Software Business

By James Lomuscio

For Gary Perelberg, a 17-year-old Staples High School junior, it was a passion for limited edition, designer sneakers that put him on the fast track toward making his first million within in a year. Image
Gary Perelberg at work at home. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

“When I was in the eighth grade I became interested in designer sneakers, especially the ones that would sell out quickly,” he said about Air Jordans and other Nike lines. “So, I would go to the website and try to buy them.”

Sometimes he would be lucky enough to snag a coveted pair, such as $140 Air Jordans, and resell it on Ebay for $400.

“I got two other pairs of Air Jordans for the same price, and those sold out in less than five minutes,” Gary said. “I sold those for $900 each.”

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04/28/17 12:18 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Palmer Seeks to Assure Parents on Bus Driver Strike Situation

Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer sought to assure Westport parents today that the threat of a bus drivers’ strike is not imminent.

In an afternoon email, she said, “We continue to keep our lines of communication open with Dattco regarding the status of their negotiations with their drivers. 

“We are pleased that there was no disruption to service today, and we have assurances from Dattco that this level of service should continue as both sides continue to negotiate next week.”

A contract with the drivers, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371, expired at midnight Wednesday. Negotiations are set to continue on Monday.

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04/27/17 03:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Here’s What Westport Would Have Received Under Failed Budget Proposal Image
Here’s what Westport would have received under the failed compromise budget proposed Tuesday, according to the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) graphic


04/26/17 07:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

School Aid: Westport Would Have Received $408,108 Increase in ECS Grant

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Democrats say the state budget plan they released Tuesday was put together in the hope it would generate some Republican votes on the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, but when they didn’t materialize Democrats were unable to hold their slim majority together to pass the plan.

Here’s what their so-called “compromise budget” would have provided in state education aid, according to data provided to some legislators by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Greenwich was the biggest winner for education aid. Its Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant -— the state’s main tool for distributing aid to local school districts -— was slated to increase by $1.25 million. Lisbon was the biggest loser, taking an ECS hit of $155,279. School aid for troubled school districts was boosted slightly — with Bridgeport, Hartford and Waterbury each scheduled for a $500,000 increase next fiscal year.

[Westport would have seen a $408,108 increase in its ECS grant and $59, 617 increase in special ed funding.]

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04/26/17 07:30 PM Comments () • Permalink

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