Category Archives: Staples HS

Remembering Joe Folino

Joe Folino — the former Staples golf and ice hockey coach who is in the national High School Coaches Hall of Fame, and a star hockey player himself for Boston University — has died.

Folino suffered an aortic aneurysm. He was 89 years old, and lived in Boca Raton, Florida.

Joe Folino

His day job was teaching typing and business at Staples. But he was best known as a 2-sport coach. He stressed fundamentals, and produced winners.

Folino came to Staples not long after earning All-East hockey honors at BU in 1950. He played semi-pro hockey, then helped start the Wreckers’ program and coached them when they played at the Post Road rink (near what is now Lansdowne condominiums).

Among his Staples golfers was former PGA tour member Brian Claar.

Folino was inducted in the High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2004. His record at Staples in both sports was 535-86-6. His teams won 6 state golf championships.

After retiring, Folino founded Golf Haus International, an instructional company. He also advised a high school golf team in Florida.

His survivors include his wife, Lorraine, and a daughter and son. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

(Hat tip: Wally Meyer)

Kids Eat Free! (Well, Okay, 10% Off)

On the one hand, Westport teenagers always complain “there’s nothing to do here!”

On the other hand, they love to eat.

In an effort to convince hungry kids that there are things to do in Westport — like, go to a variety of local restaurants — the Youth Commission has created a Student Discount Partnership.

Working with the Downtown Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce, commission members have signed nearly 30 restaurants (and 2 businesses: Suited.co and Lux Bond & Green). They offer 10% off for Staples, Weston High and Greens Farms Academy students presenting a school ID. Only 2 places said no.

Participating locations sport a sticker. The eye-catching Minuteman design was created by Staples senior Julia Schorr. Baker Graphics printed 70, for free.

Student discount sticker

The program began just a couple of weeks ago, with low-key publicity. But participation — and feedback — has been great. Oscar’s, for example, has seen a definite bump in business, from groups of teens.

Oscar's owner Lee Papageorge gives thumb's-up to the Youth Commission's Student Discount Program.

Oscar’s owner Lee Papageorge gives thumb’s-up to the Youth Commission’s Student Discount Partnership.

A girl reported that she and her friends had a great time at Spotted Horse. They gave everyone a discount, even though a couple of kids forgot their student IDs.

Outside the Spotted Horse, with student IDs from Staples, Weston and Greens Farms Academy.

Outside Spotted Horse, with student IDs from Staples, Weston and Greens Farms Academy.

“We wanted to concentrate on home-owned places, where kids could have an impact,” says Youth Commission member Reece Schachne, discussing why members selected restaurants instead of chain stores.

Publicity has come mainly through Instagram (“wycstudentdiscounts” is the handle). Youth Commission co-chair Kyle Ratner is helping coordinate an official launch this week, with announcements on the “Good Morning Staples” TV show, a story in the school newspaper Inklings, and the website westportyouthcommission.org (launching February 9).

You’re probably wondering: Why do Westport students need a discount for anything?

Lower prices are not the main aim, Reece and Kyle say. It’s more about making sure teenagers know they have plenty of things to do, and many places to do it, all around Westport.

Especially if it involves food.

(For more information, click here. Participants in the program include 323, Acqua, Angelina’s, Arezzo, Bartaco, Black Duck, Blue Lemon, Border Grill, Da Pietro’s, Finalmente, Freshii, Garelick & Herbs, Jeera Little Thai Kitchen, Joe’s Pizza, Lux Bond & Green, Mumbai Times, Oscar’s, Planet Pizza, Rizzuto’s, Señor Salsa, SoNo Baking Company, Spotted Horse, Suited.Co, Sweet Frog, The Boathouse, Tutti’s, Villa del Sol, Viva Zapata and Westport Pizzeria. Any restaurant or business interested in joining the program should email kyle.ratner1@gmail.com or matthew@westportwestonchamber.com)

Tyler Mitchell Dresses With Levatee

Mitchells does not sell t-shirts.

But Tyler Mitchell does.

The 1997 Staples grad — a 3rd-generation family member, who co-owns and runs Mitchells’ 2 Wilkes Bashford luxury stores in San Francisco and Palo Alto — has embraced the Bay Area’s entrepreneurial, tech spirit.

And — although this is a solo, private venture — he’s married it to the apparel business he knows so well.

The Levatee app offers plenty of options.

The Levatee app offers plenty of options.

Tyler — who hangs with friends like the co-founder of Instagram — has created an app. Users can quickly and easily design t-shirts with their own words or phrases, in different colors, styles and fonts. Shirts are printed within 24 hours of an order.

They’re available in V-neck, crew, neck and tank styles. (Of course, they’re made from high-quality material.)

Tyler is not the first person to offer the service. But, he says, his shirts are digitally printed, creating a better look. And the ordering process seems quicker than competing companies — 30 seconds, not 30 minutes.

Users can share their design by text, or on Facebook and Instagram (duh). Shirts can be sent as gifts via a phone’s contact list.

The app is called Levatee. “Levity” and “t-shirts” — get it?

You can’t get it at Wilkes Bashford. Or at Mitchells.

Tyler’s out in San Francisco. This is all about the web.

Tyler Mitchell poses with a vareity of Levatee shirts. (Photo/San Francisco Chronicle)

Tyler Mitchell poses with a vareity of Levatee shirts. (Photo/San Francisco Chronicle)

3:58.74!

When Henry Wynne ran for Staples, everyone knew he was destined for stardom. The question was not if he would break a 4-minute mile — but when.

The answer is: yesterday.

Henry Wynne, after yesterday's race.

Henry Wynne, after yesterday’s race.

Running for the University of Virginia at Boston University’s John Thomas Terrier Invitational, the 2013 Staples grad — and Connecticut high school state mile record holder — roared to a 3:58.74 finish.

Even more remarkable: He was tripped, and had to hurdle another racer en route to his mark.

On hand for the performance — the 2nd-fastest in UVa history — were Wynne’s father Craig, sister Grace (a Staples junior), former Staples runners Luis Cruz and Erica Hefnawy, and former Staples track coach Malcolm Watson.

One of the first people Henry called after the race? Longtime Staples track legend Laddie Lawrence.

Bonus fun fact: The very 1st Connecticut runner to run a sub-4-minute mile was another Staples grad: Steve Wheeler. He ran a 3:59.4 in 1974 for Duke University — an ACC rival of Virginia. 

Daniel Hall’s “First Date, Last Date”

The Hall family are familiar figures in Westport.

Bill and Mary Ann are longtime music educators. Their daughter Emily sang at Staples, studied opera at the Boston Conservatory, and just released her 1st full-length EP for kids, “Sun in the Morning ‘Til the Moon at Night.”

Daniel Hall

Daniel Hall

Daniel Hall performed at Staples (Class of 1997), earned a BFA in theater at the University of Michigan, then spent 10 years acting in New York. He guest starred in “Law & Order,” and had a recurring role in “Guiding Light.”

Five years ago, Daniel moved to L.A. He acted in “Graceland,” “Mad Men” and “Newsroom,” and played opposite Jaime Pressly in “I Hate My Teenage Daughter.” He’s got a part in the upcoming Cinemax show “Quarry,” and John Stamos’ “Grandfathered.”

Daniel is very excited about his most recent project. HBO seldom shows short films — but in February they’ll air “First Date, Last Date.”

Consisting of one long shot, the video stars Daniel and Andrea Bordeaux as a couple meeting for the first time in a diner, as an apocalyptic world breaks outside. The film takes them through a unique — and uniquely peaceful — journey.

“Not to be cliched, but all of my life has been based on the nurturing I got in Westport,” Daniel says.

Staples Players director Al Pia had a profound impact.

“I think of him often,” Daniel says. “He taught me about confidence, to find strength in my own voice, and how to be a leading man. Actors often have anxiety. He helped me work through that. He was a great coach and leader. He kept me in the game, and made me hungry.”

Hungry enough to get a role as an HBO actor in a diner, on a first and last date while the world around him falls apart.

(“First Date, Last Date” debuts Wednesday, February 3, 10:50 p.m. EST on HBO Now. Click here for the entire schedule.)

Andrea Bordeaux and Daniel Hall, filming "First Date, Last Date."

Andrea Bordeaux and Daniel Hall, filming “First Date, Last Date.”

 

 

Zoe Brown: “I’m Glad I’m A Spring Admit”

Last March — a couple of months before graduating from Staples High School — Zoe Brown got the legendary fat envelope from the University of Southern California. That’s the good news.

The bad news: She would have to wait nearly a year. Her acceptance was for spring.

Zoe described her reaction — and what’s happened since — on her well-written, entertaining “IMO” blog. Her words should be read by every Staples senior waiting for their own college news — and everyone else in town too.

————————————————————–

Knowing that I would not start college at the same time as all my friends was scary and upsetting. I knew I should have been excited, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed, even cheated.

Could I still make friends? Find my place? Graduate on time? What was I supposed to do for a whole semester? Should I turn down my dream school for one that offered me admission in the fall?

But after finishing up my fall semester at Santa Monica College — a highly ranked community college — I realize that being admitted in the spring was a blessing in disguise. I learned so many lessons and went through so many new experiences that I never would have if I’d started school in the fall.

Zoe Brown, hiking in the Los Angeles hills.

Zoe Brown, hiking in the Los Angeles hills.

This past semester I lived in an apartment building off campus, with 3 other girls.

With no meal plan, I bought my own groceries and cooked (more like “managed to throw together”) my own meals. With no resident assistant or instruction of any sort, I learned to deal with any issue independently.

I learned through clogged toilets, growing mold and festering food that I actually have to clean my surroundings thoroughly, like with a sponge and some special foam scrub.

And from my free time and the 3,000 miles separating me from my parents and most of my friends, I focused on putting myself out there to meet new people.

Most importantly, I also learned to enjoy spending some time with someone who will always be there for me: myself.

Zoe Brown, browsing at The Last Bookstore.

Zoe Brown, browsing in a bookstore.

Being a spring admit forced me to branch way outside my comfort zone.

Westport — where over 90 percent of the population is white and most people live comfortably, even luxuriously — is nothing like Santa Monica College. Here I met just about as many Asians and Hispanics as I did whites.

I met a girl who was admitted to New York University, but had to turn it down for financial reasons. I met a boy from Maryland who lives on his own, and works full-time at a real estate agency. I met a woman 3 times my age who is going to school for the first time, and a boy who knows everything about gangs.

At SMC I discovered that there is so much more outside the bubble that was my hometown and my high school. I’d heard about it before, and I’ve traveled a bit in my lifetime. But until now, I’ve never lived in a place where I could see what else is out there.

Zoe Brown: California girl.

Zoe Brown: California girl.

If you’re at USC, chances are you worked hard throughout high school. If not, you must have worked hard in some other way.

I worked so hard straight through my 4 years of high school that I never had time to do so many things.

Being a spring admit and having so much more time than a normal college student allowed me to cross many of these things off my to-do list.

I had time to explore Southern California in every way – from getting lost on hikes and cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway, to buying books for $1 at The Last Bookstore and doing an overnight trip to Laguna Hills.

I had time to start this blog, to write for other publications, and to actually read books for my own pleasure. Most importantly I had time to breathe, and realize how grateful I should be for where I am today.

Yes, sometimes it sucks to be a little behind socially, and live a walk away from all the on-campus happenings. When it does seem to suck, I try my best to remember that I still made it to the school I dreamed about for years. There’s no reason to be anything but thrilled and proud about that.

Anyway, what’s one less semester, when I’ve got the whole rest of my life to keep FIGHTING ON! with the Trojan family?

(To read Zoe’s full story — and the rest of her blog — click here.)

Even before officially enrolling this spring, Zoe Brown enjoys a USC football game.

Even before officially enrolling this spring, Zoe Brown enjoys a USC football game.

Maggie Kneip’s Amazing Journey: Now Everyone Knows

In the 1980s, life was good for Maggie Kneip. Her handsome husband was a rising star at the Wall Street Journal. They were raising a 3-year-old daughter and newborn son in hip Hoboken. She had great friends, and a loving family.

Suddenly, within 9 months, her husband was dead of AIDS.

Then her real ordeal began.

Over the next 3 decades Maggie’s story became a symbol of perseverance, growth and triumph. It’s also a story with plenty of Westport connections.

Last month, she shared it with the world.

Now Everyone Will Know: The Perfect Husband, His Shattering Secret, My Rediscovered Life was published on December 1 — World AIDS Day. Exploring themes of sexuality, love, humanity,  the damaging nature of family secrets and the power of truth, it’s an important book for all Westporters — even without the local ties.

Maggie Kneip and John Andrew.

Maggie Kneip and John Andrew.

Maggie writes with unflinching honesty and great grace about her life before and after her husband, John Andrew — Brown University graduate, dynamic personality, great lover — was diagnosed with what in those days was a devastating, stigmatizing death sentence.

She describes her growing realization of the hidden life he led as a closeted gay man, and her reaction when she learns of his diagnosis — just weeks after the birth of their 2nd child: “I had to see him. I had to kill him.”

But Maggie set aside her anger, and tried passionately to keep her husband alive. Caring for 2 youngsters and a husband dying a gruesome death seems a herculean task. It was made even harder by her fears that she and her children were also infected — and the revulsive reactions of a few “friends.”

John died in March of 1991, age 36. Maggie felt angry, betrayed, traumatized, heartbroken and desolate.

Maggie Kneip and her children, in June 1991. Her husband had died 3 months earlier.

Maggie Kneip and her children, in June 1991. Her husband had died 3 months earlier.

John’s brother Robert — who lived in Westport — mourned him one way. Maggie was different. She needed to protect her children. They learned never to tell anyone how their father died.

Hoping for a new start, Maggie got a job in publishing. She moved to the Upper East Side. A few years later at work she met a great woman, who lived in Westport.

Though she’d had a bad experience here once, when she brought John to visit his brother, she decided to leave her small New York apartment for a “perfect turn-of-the-century, walk-to-town, fixer-upper, below-budget saltbox” in Westport.

Her friend introduced her to a circle of “unfettered, insouciant and creative women.” Maggie helped form a book club, with women she grew close to.

Maggie Kneip (Photo/David Dreyfuss)

Maggie Kneip (Photo/David Dreyfuss)

But she avoided all mention of John. She walled herself off from her kids’ friends’ parents, avoiding conversations and even friendships.

Her husband still haunted her dreams. As her son got older, he looked more and more like  his father. But as Maggie’s children went through Staples — successful and active — they did not want to talk about him.

Maggie lost her publishing job. She became an empty nester. It was not until her kids — separately, at their college graduations — surprised her by saying they’d been thinking about their dad, that she decided it was time to tell her story.

So she wrote. And set herself free.

In a writing class at the 92nd Street Y, Maggie met a published author who’d grown up in Westport. Melissa Kirsch was moved by Maggie, and encouraged her to turn her short pieces into a memoir.

Maggie was also inspired by Sarah Herz. The former Westport teacher — a national expert in children’s literature, who died last year — became one of her mentors.

Sarah Herz and Maggie Kneip at Westport's Blue Lemon restaurant.

Sarah Herz and Maggie Kneip at Westport’s Blue Lemon restaurant.

Finding a publisher was not easy. “AIDS is over,” she heard. And, “We don’t know how to market this.” As well as: “This woman is angry.”

She’s not. Her writing is insightful, honest and strong. But with no publisher willing to take a chance, Maggie self-published.

The result is a remarkable book. Yet as powerful as it is for readers, Maggie’s memoir has also meant a great deal to her.

Today, Maggie senses a subtle shift in her approach to people. “I’m engaging more. And I’m less judgmental of others,” she says.

She’s become more involved at Temple Israel. She joined a women’s group, something inconceivable a few years ago.

“I think I’m more easy to talk to now,” Maggie says. “I’m happier.”

Maggie Kneip book cover

Maggie praises her beloved book group for being part of the Westport that helped her grow. As members talked about their lives — including the ups and downs in their own marriages — she realized that keeping a secret kept her from connecting with others.

Her book — with an afterword from former Westporter and noted psychologist Dale Atkins — has been well received. “People appreciate my honesty,” Maggie says. “They say it reminds them of that AIDS era, and the people they’ve lost.” She’s been surprised by how many readers are spouses in mixed-orientation marriages.

Now Everyone Will Know acknowledges the power of secrets, and provides a portrait in courage for moving beyond fear and shame.

Maggie’s husband John lived a hidden life. Now she’s come out of her own closet — as the wife of a gay spouse, and the widow of an AIDS victim.

She — along with her children, John’s friends from Brown, and Wall Street Journal colleagues — participate each year in the New York AIDS Walk. They raise funds for this still-awful disease.

And, finally, they talk about John.

(For more information, or to buy Now Everyone Will Know, click on www.maggiekneip.com. Hat tip: Lori Andrews) 

Cody Thomas: “Kids Are Amazing”

Two days after the death of Cody Thomas, Staples High School students recalled him as one of the most caring and committed teachers they’d ever had. 

The roots of that concern are evident in an article Thomas — who began his career as a journalist — wrote for CT Mirror in December 2014, after his 1st year in the classroom.

Describing teenagers, Thomas said:

Kids are amazing — way more incredible than most adults. The students I teach are wonderful, brilliant, and creative. If they don’t always act that way, it’s because of some undefined deadening effect caused by school.

Cody Thomas, at Staples High School's graduation last year.

Cody Thomas, at Staples High School’s graduation last year.

I hope to always be able to work against the negative and to restore hope in our school systems. Can a naïve, young teacher change the life of one student? Probably not, but he or she can hope.

On my first day of teaching, I went over classroom procedures and emphasized the fact that I expected students at 16 to be mature most of the time. “Most of the time,” was key to my rhetoric.

“I’m 24,” I told them. “I’m not mature all of the time.”

Despite an entire world of influences pulling me in different directions, I wanted my classroom to be a place for taking risks. Treat kids like adults, and more often than not they will act like adults.

An email from superintendent of schools Elliott Landon to parents earlier today said that Thomas’ death has been declared a suicide.

(Click here for the full CT Mirror story by Cody Thomas.)

Kyle Martino: Lessons And Love Learned From A Miscarriage

Kyle Martino may be the best player in Staples soccer history. As a Wrecker senior in 1999, he was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. He went on to star at the University of Virginia; was named 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year with the Columbus Crew; played 8 times for the US national team, and is now a noted Premier League analyst on NBC Sports.

But this post has nothing to do with soccer. Recently, Martino and his wife — actress Eva Amurri — lost their 2nd child in a miscarriage.

Eva — the daughter of Susan Sarandon — blogs regularly about her active, intriguing and holistic life. She has been very public about her miscarriage, hoping to raise awareness about that often-taboo topic. Last week, she asked Kyle to contribute his own insights.

Here are his sometimes painful, always loving thoughts:

“I lost the baby…”

Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri

Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri

There’s no way to prepare for those words. I was standing in line to check in to my hotel – the same mindless task I sleepwalk through every weekend – when my phone rang.

Hearing those words from Eva’s mouth, I sprung awake from my traveler’s daze.

The first emotion I felt was guilt. Of course this happened while I was away – every time Eva needs me most I seem to be on a plane or in a different time zone.

Almost instantly came anger. Her phrase repeated in my head, over and over, in my ears and my soul.

Years of shielding myself from emotional discomfort has trained me to move immediately to logic. So I began the calming method of systematically breaking down the sentence I kept hearing over and over. “Baby…The Baby…lost the baby…I lost the baby…”

It was her fault. I was overcome with a quick wave of judgment and blame. Why did she let this happen? What did she do wrong? Why did she let me get on that plane?

Anger – that hollow, pointless emotion was the shield I held so not to feel what I knew I couldn’t handle.

Holding on to that anger distracted me from the actual emotion I was feeling: sadness. I wasn’t mad at Eva at all. I was mad that I wasn’t there in the moment she needed me more than ever.

I walked over to a couch in the lobby and let this sink in. I cried for the first time in my adult life. (Don’t worry, my therapist is all over that one.) I cried because Eva said “I.” “I lost the baby.”

When Eva Amurri was pregnant with their 1st child, her husband Kyle tweeted, "#babygirl Martino's 1st red carpet."

When Eva Amurri was pregnant with their 1st child, her husband Kyle tweeted, “#babygirl Martino’s 1st red carpet.”

Of course she didn’t lose the baby. This wasn’t her fault. There was nothing she could do. In fact, she couldn’t have done more to make sure her body was the healthiest it could be to nurture life. It broke my heart that she felt responsible in that very first moment of grief. And I didn’t understand why she couldn’t see what I did: that having a healthy baby is a miracle, and we can’t choose when and where that miracle happens.

Those feelings continued through the immediate aftermath of the miscarriage. While she rewound the tape on her pregnancy and looked for errors, I appreciated her body for doing the right thing by closing the book on a miracle not meant to be.

We were on totally different pages – which drove a wedge between us. It’s the same difference that existed when Eva was pregnant with our daughter.

Eva made a connection with Marlowe well before I did. A tangible bond that only those 2 people can understand. Eva and Marlowe were soul mates the second she heard that heart beat (Eva would probably say even before that).

Being honest, I never really accepted that we were having a child until a 3rd trimester ultrasound showed Marlowe waving at the camera. It hit me in that moment that I would be a father. But Eva had long been a mother already.

Kyle Martino and Marlowe.

Kyle Martino and Marlowe.

When she called me with the shattering news of this pregnancy, she already knew her baby and had been taking care of it. In Eva’s mind she was already the mother of 2. That connection, the bond, was broken that day – and Eva was devastated.

I know that losing our child was not Eva’s fault, but I understand now why she felt it was. Miscarriage is a very isolating experience. Eva withdrew for a while after it happened. I tried to be there for her, but I wasn’t able to relate to her specific pain. My heart was broken in a different way– and nothing I could do or say helped. It was only when Eva decided to do something very brave, in her saddest moment, that the cloud over us lifted. Eva decided she needed to talk about it…with everyone.

Eva told our story on her blog. She put our heartache out there for all to read.

At first I thought it was a bad idea. I thought miscarriage was a rare misfortune, and the few who experienced it suffered privately with curtains drawn. As far as I knew, miscarriage wasn’t something you talked about.

No one had ever mentioned to me that they had been through it. I had never read of someone’s personal experience. Was it really safe and smart to tell so many people such intimate truths about your pain?

I didn’t voice my concerns about sharing because I had been so inept at providing support in those crucial moments so far. I knew I needed to support whatever desire she had. The decision had been made.

Kyle Martino is one of NBC's top analysts on English Premier League broadcasts.

Kyle Martino is one of NBC’s top analysts on English Premier League broadcasts.

Eva’s post went live, and we sat there silently. I could sense there was a weight lifted off her, but I feared the response could reverse the initially positive effects.

Immediately, support poured in. I’m not talking about the “I’m sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how hard that is” support (although that was very much appreciated).

I’m talking about the “we’ve been there ourselves, we are here for you if you need us” support. I was blown away by how many readers wrote back with their own deeply sad stories of pregnancy loss.

Then the phone started ringing. Some of my closest friends revealed to me, one by one, their own experiences with miscarriage. These were people I speak to every day, but I never had a clue.

It felt so good to talk about what we were going through. The fact that others not only knew what we were going through, but had found a way past it, was uplifting. What had felt like an action that would add shame to our heartbreak turned out to be the most cathartic experience imaginable.

I could be honest and talk with friends about the guilt I still carried for my earlier feelings of blame; the insecurity I felt about not hurting the same way as Eva did; the worry I still shoulder that it could happen to us again.

A community began, a conduit through which sadness, regret, hope, gratitude and love flowed freely.

At our wedding, Eva’s mom said something that really struck me at the time. She told us, “We are your tribe. Use us.” In the aftermath of our loss, we established a new community – a reformulation of our relationships with those already a part of it, and the addition of people met through our shared experiences.

At his wedding, Kyle Martino's new mother-in-law Susan Sarandon gave advice he's never forgotten.

At his wedding, Kyle Martino’s new mother-in-law Susan Sarandon gave advice he’s never forgotten.

We used this community to get through the hardest moment of our marriage. I accessed a lot of understanding through my discussions with other dads, and Eva gained a lot of strength from the strength of the women who came before her in their own grieving processes.

The encouragement, compassion and love we received from important people around us gave us the courage to turn back to each other for support, and heal the disconnect that was weakening our marriage.

As with many of our struggles, we came out the other side stronger together in our loss than we could ever be apart.

I will never feel the same way as Eva about losing our baby. I have my experience, and she has hers. I have my process, and she has hers.

I don’t think about it often – but Eva does. She thinks about the baby we lost every day. And so we move forward, 2 broken hearts on the mend– with a beautiful miracle of a child by our side, and one other just out of our reach.

(To read more of Eva Amurri’s blog, click here.)

Staples Mourns Cody Thomas

The Staples High School community reacted with shock and grief to the death of Cody Thomas. The popular English teacher died yesterday in Fairfield. He was 27.

Thomas had a strong connection with students of all abilities. He was also admired by the staff of Inklings, the school newspaper he served as co-adviser.

Cody Thomas

Cody Thomas

Thomas — a graduate of New York University’s Arthur Carter Institute of Journalism — wrote for the Stamford Advocate before becoming a teacher. He was also an editor at a rock journal, and played in local bands.

Social media was filled with praise, from current and former students. A Staples grad wrote:

— Thank you for helping a self-conscious anxiety-ridden nerd come out of his shell.
— Thank you for introducing me to Faulkner and Joyce and DFW, while still assuring me there’s just as much intellectual thought in an episode of Futurama.
— Thank you for calling The Black Keys “angsty white girl music.”
— Thank you for always asking if I was alright junior year, when days could be especially depressive and lonely.
— Thank you for coming to my first show. Middle section. 4th row. Your girlfriend seemed nice.
— Thank you for encouraging and proofreading my writing, even when it wasn’t for your class.
— Thank you for defending my writing, even when it clashed with others.
— Thank you for inspiring more students in your few years at Staples than many teachers would be lucky to recall in decades worth of teaching.
— Thank you for accepting my advice that you are not a “porkpie-hat guy.”
— Thank you for always encouraging me to do better, that, like everyone else, there was potential in me.
— Thank you for inspiring me to pursue writing professionally.
— Thank you for being more than a teacher, but a true friend.
— Thank you for coming to lunch with me that day in November. It meant the world, and it was good to know you still wore the same goddamn tennis shoes.
— Thank you for accepting our birthday card, I’m sorry most of the people who signed were 1) made-up, or 2) C-list celebrities.
— Thank you for that hug the last day of classes senior year. I heard your voice crack and a small sniffle as you said, “Good luck man.” After two years with you, I knew I would never need it.

Mr. Thomas. Cody. I love you. And there’s no way I will ever forget you. Rest in peace, you magnificent, magnificent dork.