Category Archives: Staples HS

ESPN: “Go Wreckers!”

This afternoon, Tom Haberstroh was a guest on David Lloyd’s “Sportscenter” ESPN show.

Haberstroh jokingly asked fellow NBA analyst Chris Broussard if the San Antonio Spurs could make him into a pro player.

Broussard laughed: “I don’t know. I’ve seen you play!”

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN's "Sportscenter" this afternoon.

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN’s “Sportscenter” this afternoon.

Lloyd — a 1979 Staples High School graduate — alertly noted that Haberstroh played hoops at Staples.

Sure, it was more than 2 decades after Lloyd graduated. But that gave Haberstroh a perfect opening. He drove the lane, and took it.

“Go Wreckers!” Haberstroh said, as the segment wound up.

Most of Sportscenter’s millions of listeners had no idea what that meant.

But Haberstroh, Lloyd and all of us do.

BONUS FUN FACT: Haberstroh also was featured on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show. It’s produced by John Lawrence — another former Staples athlete. Quite a day for the Wreckers!

Britt Hennemuth Breaks A Hip

Britt Hennemuth starred in great roles as a Staples Player — Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet,” Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast,” and The Wiz himself, to name 3.

After graduating in 2008, he studied theater and film at Pepperdine University.

But school is school. No matter what he did, his fellow actors were all his age.

Hennemuth stayed in Los Angeles. Now he’s starring in “Break A Hip,” a web series set to debut Tuesday (June 30) on Vimeo on Demand. He plays a young, out-of-work actor who takes a job as a houseboy for an older actress. She uses him to get revenge on Hollywood directors, former co-stars and others who wronged her. Hennemuth calls it “a funny, outrageous but tender love letter to this sometimes strange industry town.”

I’ve seen it before its official release. I call it “clever, hilarious, warm, truly well-written, lovingly acted, and definitely worth downloading.”

Christina Pickles and Britt Hennemuth.

Christina Pickles and Britt Hennemuth.

His co-star is Christina Pickles, the 80-year-old actress known best as Judy Geller on “Friends.” Older TV viewers remember her as nurse Helen Rosenthal on “St. Elsewhere,” which earned her 4 Emmy nominations.

The Vimeo series — based on actor/writer/director Cameron Watson’s own Hollywood experiences — also stars Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Peri Gilpin and others. Working with veterans like those has been a great experience for Hennemuth.

But he’s bonded most closely with Pickles. They hang out often (he is often mistaken for her son, to the delight of both).

The 8 episodes — each 8 to 9 minutes long — were shot last year. It was a fantastic experience for Hennemuth, who had never acted on camera before.

Hopefully, “Break a Hip” will prove to be a great break for Hennemuth. He’ll have this fine web series on his resume, as he heads out for more auditions.

And, he hopes, he’ll never have to be houseboy in real life. Even for his good friend Christina Pickles.

(“Break a Hip” is available this Tuesday, June 30, through Vimeo on Demand. For the “Break a Hip” website, click here.)

Nate Greenberg Nails It

Last month, “06880” reported on Nate Greenberg. The 2010 Staples grad — and Ewing’s sacrcoma survivor — had just been selected to give the student address at Union College’s graduation.

A few days ago, he gave that speech. And whether you’re a Union alum or have no connection whatsoever with the school, it’s worth hearing.

Nate spoke strongly and insightfully about his battle. Cancer “can take you down, or build you up,” he said.

For him, that was the beginning of a new life. His disease “brought out the best in me,” Nate said.

A month before his graduation speech, Nate Greenberg was interviewed on Albany's News 10.

A month before his graduation speech, Nate Greenberg was interviewed on Albany’s News 10.

Of course, he had support. He cited lacrosse teammates who shaved their heads in solidarity, Union students he did not know who tied yellow ribbons or wore his #3, and alumni he never knew who reached out to him.

“This is what life is all about,” Nate said.

He cited the importance of virtues like kindness and compassion, noting that life is not just about accomplishments. It’s also about “moments.”

Nate concluded: “Be present. Love. Take time to feel. Appreciate this magical thing called life.”

Click below, to hear Nate’s full speech. Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.

Staples Names Interim Principal

Dr. Mark W. Karagus will serve as interim principal for Staples High School during the 2015-16 school year. He will be in that post while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement for John Dodig, who retires this month. The announcement was made this morning by superintendent of schools Dr. Elliott Landon.

Dr. Karagus has a bachelor of arts degree in English, a master of science degree in school counseling, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership. He spent many years as a guidance counselor, assistant principal and housemaster at Norwalk High School. Last year, he was principal of Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford. He has over 37 years of experience as an educator and administrator in Connecticut.

In October 2014, this article appeared in the Trinity Catholic school paper, The Crusader:

Trinity has a new addition to its community: Dr. Mark Karagus. Dr. Karagus came here from Norwalk High School where he had been a House Master. Trinity is a big adjustment for him because Norwalk High has almost two thousand students whereas Trinity has only a little over four hundred. Working at a smaller school allows “for a more personalized relationship with the students and staff,” according to Dr. Karagus, and enables him to have “more of an individualized impact on what goes on in the school.”

Dr. Mark Karagus

Dr. Mark Karagus

Speaking of making an impact on the school, Dr. Karagus also has some improvements he plans to set forth to better Trinity.  He would like to “increase use of technology”, which is something many students will be glad to hear.

Dr. Karagus would also like to have an “increased seriousness and emphasis toward education and spiritual development.” Dr. Karagus decided to come to Trinity because he wanted to “work in the Catholic Schools and for the Diocese of Bridgeport.” He wanted to continue to work in a setting that included “academics, as well as spiritual and social development of every student.”

Outside of school, Dr. Karagus is a major sports enthusiast. He enjoys playing golf and has been a basketball official for the last forty years. Unfortunately, Dr. Karagus has decided to retire as a basketball official since it would be a “conflict of interest.”

Also, he is very dedicated to his work here at Trinity and wants to dedicate as much time as he can to help the school. Being a basketball official while trying to balance being a principal might interfere and Dr. Karagus would like to spend “more time at Trinity.” Dr. Karagus also enjoys collecting sports memorabilia, a hobby he shares with longtime friend Joe Riccio, a teacher here at Trinity Catholic.

Staples seal 2

Dr. Karagus also enjoys collecting antiques from the 1950s and 60s. A favorite of Dr. Karagus’ is jukeboxes that allow him to play the records he collects of doo-wop music from the 50s and 60s.  Dr. Karagus stated, “I enjoy doo-wop, and enjoy going to concerts that play that music such as the Beach Boys.”

Dr. Karagus  is looking forward to the future at Trinity Catholic and said that it has been a “very welcoming school with a hardworking staff and students that are serious about their studies.” He hopes to maintain the “professionalism of the staff’ and is determined to help the students reach their fullest potential. We are all very glad to have Dr. Karagus with us and may we continue to make him feel like a part of our community as we begin our school year.


Samantha Flint: A Stage Manager Comes Home

Countless students discover a passion for theater in Westport.

Many find themselves on stage. Others prefer to work in the wings.

From a young age, Samantha Flint — whose mother was in actor Christopher Lloyd’s class at Staples, and whose grandparents also attended the school — danced. At Bedford Middle School, director David Roth cast her in shows. When he and she moved on to Staples together, she joined Players.

At the end of freshman year she tried stage managing. That’s where she found her true love.

“You’re part of the process at every point, from the first auditions to the closing performance,” she says. “And there’s so much to do.”

Roth challenges every Player, at every level. Flint’s last show at Staples — “City of Angels” — was “incredibly difficult, technically,” she recalls. “When I tell people I did it in high school, they’re floored.”

Samantha Flint, hard at work.

Samantha Flint, hard at work. (Photo/Matt Pilsner)

She heard about DePaul University — Roth’s alma mater — from the director. There were only 4 students in her year in the stage managing program. “It was like working in regional theater, but getting a degree,” she says.

A good stage manager must have many skills, she explains: organization, communication, flexibility, sensitivity. All contribute to creating a “safe environment, where actors feel they can create art.”

After graduating magna cum laude from college, Flint returned east. She’s served as production assistant, assistant stage manager and production stage manager on Broadway, off Broadway and in regional theaters like Williamstown and Hartford Stage. Her credits include “Venus in Fur” in its Broadway debut, “Camelot” (with director David Lee of “Cheers” and “Frasier” fame), and “Barefoot in the Park.”

She spent 2 summers at Shakespeare in the Park, working with William Shiner and Michael Greif. Flint calls it “an amazing experience. When everyone was on the subway dressed for the office, I was there in shorts and a t-shirt, headed outdoors to make theater.”

At the Adirondack Theater Festival, she helped bring “Avenue Q” and “Next to Normal” to an area that is starved for shows. “They embrace what we do,” Flint says. “A lot of audience members come back more than once.”

Flint does not forget her roots. Recently, she taught 2 master classes in stage management for Weston High School’s Company.

Samantha Flint (right) with Weston Company stage manager Lilly Fisher.

Samantha Flint (right) with Weston Company stage manager Lilly Fisher.

This month, Flint was back in her home town. She was assistant stage manager for the Westport Country Playhouse production of “And A Nightingale Sang.”

It was a homecoming of sorts. At 15 years old, Flint had apprenticed there. The building has changed, but the “lovely people” and thrill of helping produce a show were the same.

On Thursdays, Flint shopped at the Farmers’ Market, and brought fresh food for the cast. “They were amazed — they never knew it was there!” she laughs.

After “Nightingale,” Flint heads to Bucks County Playhouse, for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“That’s the beauty of what I do,” she says. “I never know what’s ahead.”

Though she also never forgets Westport, and what is behind.

Orphenians Rock Yankee Stadium

It’s been quite a year for the Staples Orphenians.

In March they traveled to — and wowed — San Francisco, as part of the prestigious Chanticleer festival.

Tonight they did the same at Yankee Stadium.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

They had to wait out an hour-and-20-minute rain delay — hey, that’s show biz — but when they finally stood at home plate, they delivered a strong, sophisticated and inspiring rendition of our national anthem.

The largest crowd ever to watch the Orphenians perform gave them a loud, well-deserved hand.

Best of all, they made it onto the Jumbotron.

For the Yankees’ official high-def video, click here.

For Jim Honeycutt’s video — including scenes of the Orphenians greeting Jimmy Fallon and Lorne Michaels before they leave the field — click here:

To see Kim Mathias’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

To see Chip Stephens’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

Tooting MTA’s Horn

On March 1, Westporters living near the railroad tracks — and even not so near — started hearing train horns. Loud horns. And lots of them.

Several readers did the natural thing: They asked “06880” what’s up. I contacted my go-to-guy — MTA spokesman and 1994 Staples graduate Aaron Donovan — who reported that it’s part of a Connecticut Department of Transportation project to replace all New Haven Line overhead wires, first installed in 1907.

For the safety of personnel who are on or near the tracks, trains must sound their horns when approaching work zones. Work will continue through September 2017.

Well, at least we knew…

The other day though, an alert — and very frustrated — “06880” reader emailed me. Though no work was being done near Hillspoint Road, equipment had been left near the tracks. For quite a while, engineers had been honking for no reason.

Engineers were honking at this -- with no workers in sight.

Engineers were honking at this — with no workers in sight.

The reader had called the police, fire department and Metro-North. But the horns kept blaring.

I told her to contact Aaron.

He gave her a number to call — with step-by-step instructions for navigating the dreaded phone tree. Aaron assured her she’d wind up in the right hands.

She did. The Hillspoint resident reports today that the weekend was quiet.

And though work resumed today, things are much better than they were. And she says, “for the first time, they were very helpful.”

Count your blessings. And count the days — just 810! — until September 2017.

John Dodig: ReSpect

There is only one Derek Jeter.

And there is only one John Dodig.

Inspired by the fantastic Jeter “Re2pect” video honoring the Yankee great on his retirement — with everyone from little kids, cops and Rudy Giuliani to Jay-Z, Spike Lee and even Red Sox fans tipping their cap to the superstar — Staples seniors Zoe Brown and Taylor Harrington set out to give their retiring principal his due.

The result is a remarkable tribute to the high school’s one-of-a-kind leader.

If you know Dodig, and understand all he has meant during his 11 years as principal, you’ll look at this video, smile — and shed a tear.

If you don’t know Dodig, watch anyway. You’ll see the impact he’s had on everyone — administrators, teachers, athletes, actors, musicians, artists, kids who might have fallen through the cracks, secretaries, cafeteria workers, custodians, security guards — and you’ll wish you’d known him.

Zoe and Taylor clearly got the most out of their 4 years in Dodig’s Staples. And turning Jeter’s “Re2pect” into Dodig’s “ReSpect” is pure genius.

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)

Congratulations, Class Of 2015!

Staples celebrated its 128th graduation in fine fashion this afternoon. The weather was (thankfully) cool; the speeches were brief but meaningful — and most importantly, the day was about the 460 graduates. This great class got the sendoff they deserve!


The “Congratulations Class of 2015″ sign refers to principal John Dodig too. After 47 years in education, he retires this month. He called himself a proud member of ’15.

Plenty of reading material for early arrivals: the graduation program, and the year-end issue of Inklings.

Plenty of reading material for early arrivals: the graduation program, and the year-end issue of Inklings.

Hip surgery just a few days ago did not keep Jake Atlas away.

Hip surgery just a few days ago did not keep Jake Atlas away.

Friends to the end: Sarah Sawyer, Zoe Brown, Sarah Herbsman and Sophia Hampton.

Friends to the end: Sarah Sawyer, Zoe Brown, Sarah Herbsman and Sophia Hampton.

Less than 24 hours after soloing with the choir at baccalaureate, Jack Bowman gets ready to graduate.

A day after soloing with the choir at baccalaureate, Jack Bowman graduates.

Jim Farnen is the very proud assistant principal for the Class of 2015.

Jim Farnen is the very proud assistant principal for the Class of 2015.

Shift supervisor Tom Cataudo and maintenance head Horace Lewis greet the staff and students during the processional.

Shift supervisor Tom Cataudo and maintenance head Horace Lewis greet staff and students during the processional.

Valedictorian Everett Sussman earned praise for his insightful -- and quick -- speech.

Valedictorian Everett Sussman earned praise for his insightful — and quick — speech.

Next stop for Jacqueline Chappo: Boston University.

Her cap indicates the next stop for Jacqueline Chappo: Boston University.

Good friends Scott Pecoriello and Patrick Beusse are eager to receive their diplomas.

Good friends Scott Pecoriello and Patrick Beusse are ready to receive their diplomas.

The traditional cap-tossing, in slow motion.

The traditional cap-tossing, in slow motion.

Seniors painted a sign in the courtyard, showing the many places they'll go next.

Seniors signed a poster in the courtyard, showing the many places they’ll go next.

Nicole DeBlasi -- the 2015 yearbook editor -- is a proud graduate...

Nicole DeBlasi — the 2015 yearbook editor — is a proud graduate…

...and so is wrestler Alexander Baumann.

…and so is wrestler Alexander Baumann.

2015 grad

Eniola “Timmy” Kolade celebrates with family members.

Congratulations, Kristen and Pam Onorato -- and everyone else in the Class of 2015.

Congratulations, Kristen and Pam Onorato — and everyone else in the Class of 2015!

Meanwhile, here’s a video shown at last night’s baccalaureate ceremony. Directed by Ken Asada, it features many members of Staples’ Class of ’15 — with a couple of cameos by retiring (but not in the active-participant sense of the word) principal John Dodig:

(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)


Anne Fernandez did not set out to be a teacher. Her first career was investment banking.

But as she looked at family members who are educators — and saw that they seemed happier and more productive than she — Fernandez switched gears.

Anne Fernandez

Anne Fernandez

Inspired by an urge to do something “socially valuable,” she became an English teacher. In her 14 years at Staples High School, she’s earned a reputation as tough but very talented. Her courses include Advanced Placement Literature, Sophomore 2A, Caribbean Literature, and Research and Non-Fiction.

Her Research students in particular have a great role model. In 2010 Fernandez and her sister Catherine Lutz — an anthropologist at Brown University — wrote  Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and its Effect on Our Lives. The  thoroughly documented look at America’s obsession with cars was well-received — and came from the sisters’ personal experiences.

So does their new book, Schooled: Ordinary, Extraoardinary Teaching in an Age of Change.

The genesis was SB 24, a controversial education bill. Hearing Governor Malloy’s comment about teacher tenure that “in today’s system basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years” — and reading online comments from “people who have never worked in a classroom” — Fernandez vowed to do something.

“In my previous career, I had the naive idea that teachers had it easy,” she says. “When I heard what the governor said, I took personal offense. As a teacher, I was working at least as hard, if not harder, than I ever had before.”

She decided to explore “what teaching is really like.”

It was the start of a long project. Fernandez and Lutz used social media to find a variety of teachers in a broad range of settings who wanted to talk about their profession.

Schooled coverDuring summers and vacations, the sisters traveled across the country. They conducted in-depth interviews, asking questions like “Why do you teach? What is your life like? What are the most pressing educational issues today?”

A magnet elementary school teacher in St. Paul — originally from Finland, often held up as a model country — spoke about American reforms like standardized tests in kindergarten and cuts to recess time that seem antithetical to education.

A woman on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota described what it’s like working with students always on the verge of dropping out.

A science teacher in rural South Carolina who teaches about evolution told how she is able to meet students where they are, while still holding on to scientific values.

A young, talented and energetic woman in Arizona had always wanted to be an educator. But what she found — scripted lessons, merit pay based on her students’ performance on standardized tests — drove her out of the profession after 4 years.

Schooled includes interviews with teachers who are old, young and career-changers. They’re in public schools, magnet schools and charter schools. One is a home-schooling mother in Ohio.

The sisters “did not cherry-pick Teachers of the Year, or incredible innovators,” Fernandez says. Instead, they sought out “typical teachers.”

They found men and women who are inspired, and others who are dejected.

They also found a “pincer movement,” with teachers caught between social forces on the left and right that make their jobs much harder.

Education has changed quite a bit in the last few years.

Education has changed quite a bit in the last few years.

Rising childhood poverty, income inequality, the explosion of technology, increasing linguistic diversity, budget cuts, larger class sizes — all that, plus a wave of “education reforms” — make it difficult for teachers to do a good job, the authors’ interviewees say.

Yet, Fernandez says, “we met so many people who are so profoundly dedicated to children, and education.”

The book’s subtitle is apt. “We found ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Fernandez notes. “There are so many smart, dedicated teachers with lots of great insights into education today.”

In her own classroom, Fernandez says, the project has helped her “focus on what matters. The teachers who keep going don’t get distracted by educational fads or political squabbles. They stay wedded to their educational philosophies.”

For so many teachers, she adds, education is about “so much more than their academic subjects. They see their job in long-term terms: helping build adults.”

Writing Schooled reminds Fernandez that teaching is “not about the next day’s lesson. It’s about contributing — with all the other adults in the village — to produce another adult who will move us forward.”

(Schooled will be published on July 15, by Teachers College Press. To order a copy, click here.)