Category Archives: Staples HS

Art About Town: It Really Is About The Art

In 5 short years, Art About Town has cemented a spot on the spring calendar. From a small Sconset Square start in 2010 to last year’s exciting reveal of Miggs Burroughs’ “Tunnel Vision” project, the late-spring event draws plenty of attention. And thousands of celebrants.

But though the opening night street party — featuring performers, dancers, live music and art demos — gets deservedly great coverage,  the rest of the month-long celebration is sometimes overlooked.

At its heart, Art About Town is an homage to local artists, and their creations.

Kim Porio

Kim Porio

Kim Porio is one such exhibitor. A 1983 Staples High School graduate and Providence College marketing major, she did not pick up a brush until 14 years ago.

But she studied well with Arlene Skutch, and learned quickly. The 2nd year of Art About Town, her application was accepted. She sold an oil painting that spring — and was thrilled.

Kim is just one of many local artists whose work is displayed — throughout the entire month — in downtown stores. When her paintings were in Loft, she sold 4.

“It’s awesome exposure,” Kim says. “People come from all over. And it’s a whole variety.”

Art About Town artists range from relative newcomers to very experienced. (Miggs Burroughs exhibited in Matsu Sushi a couple of years ago.)

Westport Downtown Merchants Association organizers are now accepting applications for this spring’s show, through March 20. A special application fee of $25 for artists up to age 25 encourages younger participants (regular fee: $35). Staples High School students are especially welcome to apply. For more information, click here.

An oil on canvas, by Kim Porio

An oil on canvas, by Kim Porio

Jessica Gelman, Tom Haberstroh Star In Special “Super Bowl”

When Jessica Gelman starred on the Staples High School basketball court in the early 1990s, Tom Haberstroh was just entering elementary school.

As he grew up — and became a Wrecker hoops player himself — their paths crossed occasionally. Tom says, “She was the first athlete to teach me that girls could kick guys’ butts.”

Jessica Gelman, at work. (Photo/Sports Business Journal)

Jessica Gelman, at work. (Photo/Sports Business Journal)

Jessica went on to star at Harvard, play professionally in Europe and enter the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. After earning an MBA at Harvard, she’s now a high-powered vice president with the Kraft Sports Group, handling marketing strategy for the New England Patriots and Revolution. Last year, Sports Business Journal named her to their “Forty Under 40” team.

Tom’s path took him to Wake Forest. He’s been an ESPN NBA analyst since 2010.

Jessica Gelman fights for a rebound, as a Staples junior.

Jessica Gelman fights for a rebound, as a Staples junior in 1992.

Both Jessica and Tom are numbers guys people. She took high-level math classes at Staples, learned to use data as a pyschology major in Harvard, and became an early leader in the field of sports analytics. (Her database of 3.4 million names makes Kraft the envy of the sports world.)

A decade ago, she taught a course on sports analytics at MIT Sloan School of Management with Daryl Morey. When he got a new job — general manager of the Houston Rockets — they turned the class into a conference.

The initial event, in 2006, drew 150 people. (“Half of them were my friends,” Jessica jokes.) Nine years later, she’s still the chair.

This year’s conference — tomorrow and Saturday (February 27-28) — will draw over 3,000 industry leaders. Michael (“Moneyball”) Lewis, statistician Nate Silver, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati, and league commissioners Adam Silver and Rob Manfred are among the presenters.

So is Tom Haberstroh.

Tom Haberstroh, as a Staples senior in 2004.

Tom Haberstroh, as a Staples senior in 2004.

Like Jessica, he’s a sports industry leader in the field of analytics. He parlayed his background — which included Jen Giudice’s AP Statistics course at Staples, and the strong influence of math teacher Rich Rollins — into a highly respected specialty.

(In a small-world coincidence, Jessica’s former colleague Daryl Morey used an ESPN statistical segment of Tom’s to promote Dwight Howard for the NBA All-Star game.)

A few years ago, Tom introduced himself to Jessica at the Sports Analytics Conference. They kept in touch. This year, Jessica asked Tom to moderate a panel on the growth of sports science and data collection.

The 2 former Staples basketball players are huge fans of each other.

“Jess just won the Super Bowl with the Patriots,” Tom says. “Now she’s running a Super Bowl conference of her own.”

Tom Haberstroh

Tom Haberstroh

“Tom’s stuff is great!” Jessica replies.

Both look forward to this weekend’s conference. Tom jokingly calls it “the Super Bowl for sports nerds.”

Don’t be fooled. If the conference adds a 2-v-2 basketball game to the agenda, Jessica Gelman and Tom Haberstroh will kick everyone’s butts.

 

It’s Official: Lynsey Addario Is A Star

Last night she reached the top of the food chain: an appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The segment was not hilarious. It was harrowing — as the Staples graduate/Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist/MacArthur “genius” grant winner recounted her 2 kidnappings — but also very instructive.

Lynsey Addario Jon Stewart

Stewart called Lynsey’s new book — It’s What I Do – “fascinating and phenomenal.” He ended the segment with a shot of her after her wedding, and announced, “You have a life. And you are a person.”

She is indeed. Westport has long known that.

Now the world does too.

(To see Lynsey Addario’s “Daily Show” appearance, click here.)

Honoring John Dodig: The Best Way Possible

The other day, John Dodig bought a lottery ticket. If he won, he thought to himself, his first act would be donating $20 million to Staples Tuition Grants.

Odds are, he won’t win. But I bet he’s thrilled at this news: The organization is naming an award in his honor.

Now it’s up to the Dodig’s many fans to get the scholarship as close to $20 million as we can.

John Dodig -- a Superfan of Staples -- has many fans throughout the community.

John Dodig — a Superfan of Staples — has many fans throughout the community. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

When the Staples High School principal announced he will retire in June, Lee Saveliff and Kate Andrews had the same reaction as many Westporters: great sadness.

But as former PTA presidents, now Tuition Grants donor co-chairs, they knew of Dodig’s great fondness for, and support of, the organization.

They asked if he’d be comfortable with a new award, named in his honor. The criteria: 1 boy and 1 girl each year, who are outstanding citizens, active in Staples activities and volunteerism, known to be caring, open-minded and willing to accept others.

Dodig was honored to be honored.

“There is no better investment than in education,” Dodig says.

“But not everyone — even in Westport — can afford it. Staples Tuition Grants does a fantastic job. Every June, at the awards ceremony, we hear from a speaker whose life was changed by a grant.

“Now, every year when this award is announced, it will be a way for people to remember that education is so important to me.”

Each year, Staples Tuition Grants helps dozens of Staples seniors and graduates attend college.

Each year, Staples Tuition Grants helps dozens of Staples seniors and graduates attend college.

Saveliff and Andrews agree. “This grant will represent John for years to come. It reflects the kind of person he is, and the legacy he leaves behind. It’s one way to recognize him for his years of service, and thank him for all he has done for our Staples students, families, faculty and staff.”

Funding the John M. Dodig Award is harder than simply buying a lottery ticket. Fortunately, it’s easier than actually winning the lottery.

It takes donations. You have to click on the website, or mail a check to Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159.

But that’s all it takes — a minute or two, max.

Staples Tuition Grants new logoThink how much John Dodig has given this community — and us, individually. Think how important Staples Tuition Grants is to him. To the awardees. To all of us.

So let’s do what we can to make the John M. Dodig Award the biggest of all 100-plus grants each year.

We may not be able to hit a Powerball-winning figure. But what about setting a goal for 2 full scholarships each year?

That’s very ambitious. Then again, John Dodig has always encouraged all of us to aim high, and reach our potential. This is the least we can do, to honor him.

(To contribute to the John M. Dodig Award, click here or mail a check to Staples Tuition Grants, Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159.)

Hey, Girlfriend!

Girls enjoy getting together to share stories, food and fun. That’s true whether the girls are 15 or 90 years old.

Or — in Westport — whether they’re 15 and 90.

Carolyn Malkin is midway between those ages. As a volunteer meal-deliverer for the Senior Center, she realized a lot of women live alone. They’re interesting, chatty and filled with amazing histories — but they didn’t always have a chance for social interaction.

Carolyn had a great relationship with her own grandmother, who lived to 99. But — as the mother of 2 girls — she knew a lot of teenagers in  Westport don’t have grandmas nearby.

Rita Adams (left) with Melony Malkin. (Photo/Carolyn Malkin)

Rita Adams (left) with Melony Malkin. (Photo/Grace Kosner)

Working with the Senior Center’s Sue Pfister; Human Services’ Barbara Butler and Sue Lebrija; Staples High School administrators John Dodig and Rich Franzis, and “younger seniors” Mary Maynard and Mildred Bunche, Carolyn created the Girlfriends Club. Pairs of high school girls spend an hour or so a week with a “girlfriend”: an older Westporter.

Last year, Carolyn’s senior daughter Melony and a few friends formed the first relationships.

This year, Carolyn’s sophomore daughter Sydney recruited her own friends. A couple of dozen more teenagers signed up. It’s unclear who has more fun: they, or their 80- and 9o-something girlfriends.

“This is not about teenagers visiting women who are helpless and lonely,” Carolyn emphasizes. “It’s a 2-way relationship. These are very lively, very lovely women. The girls adore them, and the feeling is mutual.”

Jo Woog -- my mother -- with girlfriends Lauren Stack and Sophie Epstein. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Jo Woog — my mother — with girlfriends Lauren Stack and Sophie Epstein. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Carolyn goes to the 1st meeting, introducing everyone and helping the conversation along. Very quickly, though, she’s not needed.

“Their relationship develops better without me,” she says.

Joyce Clarke is the oldest girlfriend. At 103, she didn’t know what she’d talk about. She hadn’t been around young people for a while. Quickly, Carolyn says, she learned they’re interested in the same things she was, years ago.

Sculptor Lucia White shows Grace Kosner around her studio. (Photo/Carolyn Malkin)

Photographer Lucia White shows Grace Kosner around her studio. (Photo/Carolyn Malkin)

Joyce is just one of the older girlfriends with remarkable lives. The women were business owners, artists and photographers. Rita Adams was a dancer and circus performer. “These are fun, vibrant people,” Carolyn emphasizes. “The girls fall in love with them. Having young blood is great, and the women have so much to give.”

The weekly meetings are fun. So too are get-togethers with the entire club.

At a Valentine’s party earlier this month, the group gathered at the Senior Center. Nothing was planned, beyond food and decorations. Soon, everyone was talking, laughing — even dancing. One woman and her girlfriends made up a dance. Once Rita joined in, everyone else did too.

“It was great to see so many smiles,” Carolyn says. “For the next party, we’ll get a DJ!”

Rita Adams (left) dances with Leah Fuld, at the Valentine's party. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Rita Adams (left) dances with Leah Fuld. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Grace Wynne, Rita Adams, Sydney Malkin and Shirley Mellor enjoy the Valentine's party. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Grace Wynne, Rita Adams, Sydney Malkin and Shirley Mellor enjoy the Valentine’s party. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Girlfriends of all ages get together at the Senior Center. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Girlfriends of all ages get together at the Senior Center. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

A Greenwald Family Two-Fer

In the theater world, a “two-fer” is 2 tickets for the price of 1.

In the Greenwald house, it’s 2 plays written by members of 1 family.

Charlie Greenwald is a junior at Emerson College. On Sunday, March 1, “Surprising Simon” — a play he co-wrote — will be staged there.

The winner of the school’s Rareworks Theatre Playwrights Festival, “Simon” is a farce based on a birthday party gone wrong at many turns.

Charlie’s many friends know he’s a masterful comic (check out his George W. Bush impersonation here). In Staples Players, he participated in shows like “West Side Story” and “Into the Woods.” At Emerson he’s a communications major, involved in both sports broadcasting and play writing.

Charlie and Tommy Greenwald.

Charlie and Tommy Greenwald.

Though his father Tommy is also one of the funniest folks around (check out his “Charlie Joe Jackson Guide to Not Reading” franchise here), the play he co-wrote is an intimate musical.

Set against the background of a changing America between 1950 and 1990, it probes the complex relationships between brothers and sisters, parents and children. It’s all about connections, commitments and the healing of the human heart.

John & Jen” — starring Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan — was first produced at Goodspeed. It opened off-Broadway in New York in 1995.

The show continues to have a healthy life in small theaters all over the country, and abroad. Now — 20 years later — it’s being revived by Keen Company at the Clurman Theatre on 42nd Street, through April 4.

Tommy — himself a 1979 Staples graduate — was not in Staples Players. (He was a soccer team captain.) But he’s an avid fan of the program. And he understands good theater: his day job is advertising Broadway shows.

So both Tommy and Charlie know something about two-fers. Of course, if you want to see both shows, you’ve got to buy 2 tickets.

(For ticket information on “John & Jen,” click here.)

Neighbors Help Neighborhood Studios

For a long time, Neighborhood Studios needed a good documentary film, to show to prospective donors and sponsors.

The weekend and summer music and arts program serves 1600 Bridgeport youngsters each year. It’s very effective — but low-key, and chronically underfunded. There was no way to find the thousands of dollars a film production would charge.

Harold Levine

Harold Levine

A few months ago, Westporter Harold Levine — the organization’s 93-year-old chairman emeritus, still very active after a long career as a storied ad agency owner — approached a former colleague.

Tony Degregorio is a noted adman himself — and a Westporter. He agreed to be creative supervisor of the film.

Levine then asked Jim Honeycutt, director of Staples High School’s Media Lab, for help finding students to collaborate. Senior Arin Meyer volunteered to shoot the film. Levine calls her “extraordinarily talented.”

Junior Daniel Pauker joined as production assistant.

Levine’s next call was to longtime friend Doris Jacoby. For decades, her Jacoby Storm company has produced documentaries for major corporations and non-profit clients. She too eagerly signed on.

Neighborhood Studios logoThe result — a volunteer effort by talented Westporters, to help boys and girls in nearby Bridgeport — premieres on Sunday, March 15 (7 p.m.) at the Westport Country Playhouse. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will perform.

They’re not from Westport. But like Harold Levine, Tony Degregorio, Arin Meyer, Daniel Pauker and Doris Jacoby, they’re eager to help Neighborhood Schools — our Bridgeport neighbors just a few miles away.

(Tickets to the Neighborhood Studios gala are available here.)

Bradley Stevens: Portrait Artist, Basketball Player, Rock Star

In 2007, Brad Stevens met Hillary Clinton. Someday, he said, he’d paint her presidential portrait.

She roared with laughter. He was serious.

That’s just one anecdote in a long George Washington Magazine profile of the 1972 Staples High School graduate. He earned a BA from George Washington University in 1976, and an MFA from there 3 years later.

Bradley Stevens' depiction of Vernon Jordan hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. (Photo/GW Magazine)

Bradley Stevens’ depiction of Vernon Jordan hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. (Photo/GW Magazine)

Stevens is now one of America’s leading realist painters. His work — depicting Vernon Jordan, Allen Iverson, Felix Rohatyn, Senator Mark Warner, and dozens of other politicians, financiers, educators and judges — hangs in the Smithsonian, US Capitol, State Department, Mount Vernon and Monticello.

The GW story notes that Stevens has won praise “not just for his original portraiture and sanctioned copies of great works, but also for his landscapes and cityscapes. From the warmth of the sun to a face in the crowd and the visage of a president, he seems to find inspiration equally.”

Stevens says that his fascination with people-watching helps him “seize upon what makes someone special and different.”

The story describes the artist’s youth in Westport, where he inhabited 2 separate worlds: Staples basketball starter (he’s 6-5), and rock guitarist.

Bradley Stevens, at work in his studio. (Photo/GW Magazine)

Bradley Stevens, at work in his studio. (Photo/GW Magazine)

“I’m sure my hometown had an influence on my path toward the arts,” Stevens says. “It’s a culturally progressive place with many New York-based artists, illustrators, writers, actors, musicians and the like.”

At GW he played lead guitar in a comedy band, and received his 1st professional art commission: a caricature of George Washington himself dribbling a basketball on the court of the new Smith Center.

His early career included noted re-creations of the works of Degas, Monet, Manet and others. He’s been commissioned to reproduce famous works, including Gilbert Stuart’s famous full-length portrait of the 1st president (and university namesake).

Based now in Virginia, Stevens says that portrait painters “should have a certain lack of ego.” That’s because their work is entirely about the subject.

Portraits should link the present with the future, he says. Who knows? Maybe the future does include a presidential portrait, done by the talented Bradley Stevens.

(To read the entire story, click here. Hat tip to Jon Fraade.)

Bradley Stevens' mural of the Connecticut Compromise of 1787 hangs in the US Capitol. (Photo/GW Magazine)

Bradley Stevens’ mural of the Connecticut Compromise of 1787 hangs in the US Capitol. (Photo/GW Magazine)

UPDATE — UVA Lax Player Missing — Staples Basketball Connection?

UPDATE:  The lacrosse player in the story below has been found safe.

A large search has been organized for a freshman lacrosse player from the University of Virginia.

And everyone looking has seen him wearing a Staples basketball shirt.

Mike D'Amario missing

The 2-time high school All-American and Lacrosse Magazine Northeast Player of the Year is from Niskayuna, New York. Somewhere, though, he befriended a Staples hoops player.

(Hat tip: Sarah Petrino)

Mike Forgette Rocks 1974

It started as a joke. Mike Forgette’s dad was a Jethro Tull fan, so his wife bought him a flute.

But 5-year-old Mike picked it up, and started playing. He added guitar in 7th grade. He and some friends formed a couple of high school bands. At the University of New Haven, Mike studied music and sound recording.

After college, he worked 3 jobs. He saw an ad for a 4th: SAT tutor. His former physics professor agreed to write a recommendation, but suggested Mike consider teaching as a career. He’d always enjoyed helping others solve problems, the instructor noted.

Mike Forgette, math teacher...

Mike Forgette, math teacher…

The first time Mike stood in front of a classroom, something clicked. He loved being “on stage” — just like with his band.

Today, Mike’s a full-time math teacher. He’s in his 3rd year at Staples High School, his 4th in the district.

But he did not leave music behind.

...and Mike Forgette, guitarist. (Photo/copyright LSG Original)

…and Mike Forgette, guitarist. (Photo/copyright LSG Original)

Mike’s band — named “1974” — has steadily earned notice. Playing mostly around Hartford — but ranging into Massachusetts and Pennsylvania — the progressive rock group is gaining fans and downloads.

Their concept-based albums are particularly big overseas. 1974 was recently reviewed in a Swedish newspaper, which Mike finds intriguing.

Last year, they were named “Best Rock Band” and “Best Overall Band” in Connecticut Music Awards voting. This year, they’re up for New England Music Awards’ “Rock Act of the Year.”

Being a rock star in 1974 — the band, not the year — is not a full-time gig. Mike teaches; other members work as graphic designer, chef, college registrar and inventory controller. They do all their own marketing: press releases, CD designs, booking, whatever.

The keyboardist is new. But everyone else has been friends for years. They enjoy an easy familiarity, and clearly love what they do.

Yet it doesn’t consume them. The name came from a member’s casual remark — “Maybe if we were around in 1974, we’d have made it” — and they don’t really worry that the name renders them “basically unsearchable” on Google. (Type in “1974,” and you get lots of references to Gerald Ford.)

1974, in 2015.

1974, in 2015.

They’re very approachable, which helps fans relate.

Some of those fans are Mike’s students. He doesn’t talk much about his band, but when the class hears that their teacher’s music is on iTunes and Spotify, they’re impressed.

Last year, Michael Martins was working on student radio station WWPT-FM’s 40th anniverary event. When he realized that meant the station began in — drum roll, please — 1974, he asked his teacher if the band could play live. They did.

Hanging on the studio wall is a poster of Jethro Tull. Forgette knew he was in the right place.

(To vote for 1974 as New England’s Rock Act of the Year, click here. To hear their music and more, click here.)