Category Archives: Staples HS

Big Toot

The other day, an alert (and noise-sensitive) “06880” reader asked:

Do you have any idea how long the trains are going to blasting their horns through Westport? It started before we went away March 1st. I’m sure they must be getting a lot of complaints.

Though I live a couple of miles from the tracks, I’ve actually heard the horns myself. Well, maybe they’re car horns from drivers trying to navigate the increasingly chaotic Playhouse Square parking lot. Whatever.

I sounded out (ho ho) Aaron Donovan. He’s an MTA spokesman, and — because “06880” is “where Westport meets the world” — a 1994 Staples graduate.

He reported back:

This is a result of the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s long-term project to replace all the New Haven Line overhead wires, which were first installed in 1907. These original wires use antiquated “fixed termination” technology, which unfortunately allows the wires to sag ever so slightly during periods of high heat (it isn’t visible to the naked eye) or contract during periods of extreme cold, causing operations problems for trains. The DOT is updating the wires, more formally known as catenary, with a state-of-the-art “constant tension” system that will better accommodate the extreme temperature that can impact our region.

catenary lines

The good news is that this is the very last leg of the project. The DOT recently completed the section between Southport and Bridgeport, and are now turning attention to the section between Norwalk and Southport. In the current phase of the project, DOT’s contractors are out on the tracks digging holes to sink foundations for the gantries from which the new wire system will be suspended. For the safety of all personnel who are on or near the tracks, trains are required to sound their horns when approaching work zones.

The project is scheduled to be completed in September 2017.

Thanks, Aaron! That’s a lot more information than those signs that say “Good Service”!

(To learn even more about the DOT project, click here and here.) 

Farmers’ Market Grows Into 2nd Delicious Decade

All farmers’ markets open in a burst of optimism.

Many — up to half — don’t make it past 2 years. Most — another 30 percent — fail by year 5.

The Westport Farmers’ Market is not like most.

As the Imperial Avenue institution prepares for its 10th season, it’s not just a success. It’s flourishing wildly — reaping rewards not just for farmers and food-lovers but entire families, and even Fairfield County non-profits.

Westport Farmers Market 2Sustaining a farmers’ market for a decade is just like farming: It takes patience, persistence and plenty of hard work.

When Lori Cochran took over as executive director 5 years ago, the market was limping along. It had begun in the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot with great backing from Dressing Room owners Paul Newman and Michel Nischan, plus tremendous town support from selectmen Gordon Joseloff and Shelly Kassen.

After half a decade it was popular with a core group of shoppers and a small number of farmers. But there was no marketing, community outreach or special programming.

Working with Rebecca Howe, Lori dedicated herself to making the farmers’ market an integral part of the town. “Not to be cheesy, but all of us here live, eat and breathe this,” she says.

On the food side, Westport’s market has the strictest requirements of any in the state. All vegetables are organic. The fruit is grown without pesticides or herbicides. Anyone selling prepared food must use at least one locally produced ingredient, for every item — ideally, from another market farmer.

That develops a strong community of vendors who support each other.

Lori created a partnership with Staples High School and the Gillespie Center. The Westport Farmers’ Market buys local food; students in Staples’ culinary program prepare it, and market volunteers serve it at the homeless shelter just across Jesup Road.

Every week, the market hosts a different non-profit. The organization showcases its work. Many create special programs for market-goers.

The Farmers’ Market works closely with the Bridgeport Rescue Mission too. Members come to the market every Thursday. They collect food, donated by vendors. Back at the mission, a chef helps them use the ingredients to prepare great meals.

On the 3rd Thursday of every month, a local chef offers demonstrations. Only those who use farm-to-table ingredients participate. The waiting list is long, Lori notes.

Farmers MarketEach spring, several Staples seniors work at the market as interns. One has gone on to head up the organic market at his college; another founded a community supported agriculture organization at hers. They’ve grown up knowing the importance of a local farmers’ market.

So do younger kids. Thanks to partnerships with the Westport Library and Westport Arts Center, youngsters hear stories involving food, and make arts projects with vegetables. Lori is thrilled to help nurture a new generation of Westporters who understand the importance of farmers’ markets.

This year, the Westport market will introduce an “Ambassadors” program. “A lot of times people buy great stuff, but they get home and don’t know what to do with it all,” Lori explains. “So every month we’ll feature 1 lunch and 1 dinner recipe, featuring ingredients from the market. We’ll have ‘ambassadors’ right there, suggesting the best ways to use certain products.”

Lori Cochran-Dougall

Lori Cochran

Lori is proud that the Westport Farmers’ Market has become such an integral part of the community. (Along with its novel addition, the 4-year-old Winter Market held at Gilberties’ Herb Garden.)

“Westport is an incredibly dynamic, supportive place,” Lori says. “Jim Marpe and Avi Kaner (1st and 2nd selectmen) do everything they can for us.”

Her mission this year — beginning on opening day May 21, and continuing through the fall — is for every Westporter to enjoy the farmers’ market bounty.

“We bring quality, healthy food from local farmers right to people’s back yards,” she says. “Everyone supports everyone else.”

They eat very well while doing it, too.

(The Westport Farmers’ Market kicks off its 10th season on Thursday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The “official celebration” on Thursday, June 11 features music, activities, and a tribute to the 8 founding farmers who are still there.)

Kyle Martino’s Latest Kick

Westporters have always expected big things from Kyle Martino.

In 1999, the Staples senior was named Gatorade National High School
Soccer Player of the Year.

He went on to become Major Soccer League’s 2002 Rookie of the Year. On the Los Angeles Galaxy, he played alongside — and hung out with — David Beckham.

1999 Staples grad Kyle Martino on NBC Sports

1999 Staples grad Kyle Martino on NBC Sports

Martino earned caps with the US national team. After retiring from professional soccer, he joined ESPN as a color commentator. Now he’s seen every weekend as a studio analyst on NBC Sports‘ highly regarded broadcasts of Premier League matches.

Plus, he’s married to beautiful actress Eva Amurri.

But — despite his education at the University of Virginia — no one here quite expected Kyle Martino to end up with the New York Times.

Apparently, there’s nothing he can’t do.

The paper announced today that Martino will join Kristen Kish — only the 2nd female “Top Chef” winner ever — as co-hosts of “36 Hours.”

That’s a new venture the Times and Travel Channel are bringing to television.

In each 1-hour episode, Martino and Kish arrive in a new city. They’ll have 36 hours to “explore the most delicious foods and hot spots, meet fascinating local insiders, and experience the best attractions unique to each destination.”

New-York-Times-LogoEpisodes will coincide with new or updated Times “36 Hours” newspaper columns, in the Sunday Travel section. Companion editorial and video content will appear on NYTimes.com and Travel Channel digital properties.

Martino is only 34 years old. We know he’ll be kickin’ it for many years to come.

Robot World

Westport robots may soon take over the world.

Or at least the Robot World Championships.

A local team — i²robotics — has qualified for that prestigious event. The 25-team event will be held April 22-26 in St. Louis. i² — comprised of 9 Staples High School students — is the only Connecticut high school-aged team there. (It is not, however, an official Staples organization.)

But they won’t even be the only Westport robotics squad in St. Louis. Team SNAP — Coleytown Middle School 8th graders Theo Davis, Nick Durkin, John McNab and Daniel Westphal — will be there too. They’re part of the FIRST Lego League World Festival for younger students, held at the same time.

Team members include co-captains Alex Davis and Peter Sauer, plus Ken Asada, Ben Davis, Julian Garrison, Kiran Nandagopal, Luke Sauer, Julia Schorr and Alex Somlo. The coach is Terry Sauer.

Team members include co-captains Alex Davis and Peter Sauer, plus Ken Asada, Ben Davis, Julian Garrison, Kiran Nandagopal, Luke Sauer, Julia Schorr and Alex Somlo. The coach is Terry Sauer.

The tournaments are sponsored by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit that uses a sports model to inspire students about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

It also teaches marketing, collaboration, public speaking, writing, videography, public relations and business skills (like budgeting, fundraising and pitching sponsors).

For this year’s tournament, the high school i² team had to build a robot that could fill “goals” with Wiffle- and golf-sized balls, ascend a ramp, and perform other tasks. At times the robot is autonomous; at other times it is driver-controlled.

At one point this season, i²’s robot held the world record for the most amount of points in a match.

i² has reached out to the local community for funds — and given back too. They raised $2,000 for FIRST in Haiti. They also developed a Mars Rover simulator for Bridgeport’s Discovery Museum, which will be brought to local schools.

Now they’re seeking more funds, to pay for World Championship registration fees, travel and robot parts. Their Indiegogo page is here. It’s run by humans.

$1 Million Hoop Dreams

There are a few ways to make $1 million in basketball.

You can be an NBA star, which pretty much means planning before birth to have 7-foot parents.

You can win your NCAA bracket, which pretty much means having as much luck as having 7-foot parents.

Or you can win The Tournament. That’s the path a pair of Westporters hope plan to take.

The Tournament is a 5-on-5, winner-take-all event. There is no entry free. 18 teams, in each of 4 US regions, are selected by fan votes. Another 6 in each region get at-large bids.

The winning team earns $950,000. The other 5% goes to its fans — including $5,000 to the fan who recruits the most other fans.

Jordan Schur

Jordan Schur

Jordan Schur was in the Tournament stands last year, in Philadelphia. The 2001 Staples graduate — a former Wrecker basketball (and soccer) star, who went on to an impressive hoops career at Union College — was impressed by the level of play, and the professional uniforms, refereeing and organization.

For the past year, he’s plotted how to get in. He knew he could put together a team of guys he plays with, in his regular 5:30-7 a.m. game.

But he graduated from college 10 years ago. The more he thought about it, the more Schur realized that, as general manager, he could form a much better squad.

That is not an idle idea. Schur became a FIBA-certified international basketball agent in 2011. It was a hobby — in real life he’s a lawyer — but he enjoyed placing American players with overseas teams.

John DiBartolomeo, in Spain.

John DiBartolomeo, in Spain.

One of the players he knew of was John DiBartolomeo. In 2009, Schur tried to recruit the Staples standout for Union. DiBartolomeo ended up at the University of Rochester — where he earned 1st team All-America honors, and was named Division III National Player of the Year.

After graduating, he signed a professional contract in Spain — and in his 1st season was named MVP of the 3rd Division league. This year’s he’s in the 2nd Division.

In February, Schur sent out feelers to a few players. DiBartolomeo leaped at the idea. He sent Schur a list of top players from overseas. Schur has signed up 7 so far, including guys from Japan, Israel and Egypt.

He’ll find 3 more players. It’s unlikely any others will have a Staples connection.

But “06880” readers can still be involved. The more fans Schur’s team has, the more chance they’ll have of being able to compete for that $1 million.

And remember: fans share in the prize money. There’s up to $5,000 in it for you.

Just click this link:  https://www.thetournament.com/teams/team-krossover

It’s a far easier way to make money than playing in the NBA. Or even filling out a bracket.

Leaving Childhood Behind

Among his many gifts, Staples High School principal John Dodig has mastered the art of communicating important truths with simplicity and grace.

Recently, he sent a note to parents of graduating seniors. But its message is far broader. It should be read by anyone with children, of any age — and anyone who ever was a child. Dodig wrote:

Each year at this time I send a message to senior parents warning them to be ready for the feelings of loss as graduation day nears. This year, you and I are in the same boat. Both of us will face the end of our involvement in our child’s/student’s school life. Whether you have only one child or several, you will be hit with this intense sense of “the end” at some point between now and graduation day.

Graduation is a time for looking ahead -- and back.

Graduation is a time for looking ahead — and back.

What makes the American high school experience unique in the world is that high school is so much more than simply a place to go each day to learn. In most of the rest of the world, if you want to learn to play the cello, learn to draw or cook, or be competitive at a sport, you do so on your own time on weekends.

In America, all of these experiences are wrapped up in the same package. Our children leave home each morning and return sometimes late at night having studied French and calculus and then done something after school.

Chances are, you and I were on the sidelines to watch the team, or in the audience to hear the concert and to support our child/student. We become so much a part of their lives that facing the end of this experience is difficult to imagine.

Parents support many activities -- including the annual pops concert in the Staples courtyard.

Parents support many activities — including the annual pops concert in the Staples courtyard.

Think back, for a moment, on the 1st day of school for your child. Try to imagine holding his little hand as you walked him to the bus or to school or even to the classroom.

You might remember your child not wanting to let go of you, maybe even crying. You knew you had to let go and allow her to begin the 12-year journey through public school.

That journey was sometimes difficult and sometimes easy. Those little hands got bigger and, at some point, didn’t want to be held in public any more.

Growing up

Once in high school, these little boys and girls began changing into young men and women. Their bodies changed, their minds changed, their emotions changed, and they began to become somewhat independent people.

You still fed them. You still washed their clothes. You still paid for everything, but you sensed that they were beginning to separate from you and to prepare for a life apart from you and family.

On graduation day you will share in an emotional experience with your son or daughter. You will hug, get photos taken, have a party with family and then face a long summer where they will start preparing for what will come after high school.

They will always be your children, but you will never again be a part of their lives in the way you have been for the past twelve years. That will come to an end.

blog-eitan1

Among the “graduates” this year: principal John Dodig (right).

I will share your sense of loss, because I have watched thousands of young kids walk into our high school and begin to grow into competent, well-educated young adults only to leave us on graduation day. This will be the last graduation day for me, and I am grateful to share it with your child.

Use the next few months to revel in your beautiful creation. Your son/daughter will take a part of you into the future and perhaps create a new generation. Make that last hug in school at graduation tighter and stronger than normal, so that the feeling of that hug will last forever.

Lynsey Addario’s “Booked For The Evening”: The Back Story

The Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” fundraiser is always special. Previous honorees have included Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos, Adam Gopnik, Will Shortz and Patti Smith.

This year, though, is especially special. On Saturday, May 9 (7:30 p.m.), the library welcomes Lynsey Addario. She’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner, internationally known role model — and a Westporter.

Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario

Lynsey’s accomplishments are — well, special. Working for the New York TimesNational Geographic and Time, she has documented life and oppression under Taliban rule in Afghanistan; conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Darfur and Congo, and humanitarian and human rights issues across the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

Now, Lynsey is a noted author. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War is an insighful, inspiring memoir. It’s also been optioned as a big-time film. Steven Spielberg will direct it, with Jennifer Lawrence playing Lynsey.

None of which may have been possible without our special Westport Library.

The other day, I asked Lynsey if she recalled her early library days.

Boy, did she.

Her parents came to Westport in the 1960s to open a salon, Phillips. They had finished hairdressing school in New Haven, and were attracted to Westport’s thriving, creative atmosphere. Artists and authors seemed to be everywhere.

As a Coleytown Elementary School student, Lynsey remembers making field trips to the “old” library. In that building, on the Post Road and Parker Harding Plaza — where Starbucks and Freshii are now — she learned how to use the card catalog, and search for books.

The "old" library, where a young Lynsey Addario learned a lot.

The “old” library, where a young Lynsey Addario learned a lot.

The “new” library — the one next to the Levitt Pavilion — opened when Lynsey was at Staples. She was discovering photography, and used the library to learn more about the field.

Today, most of Lynsey’s research is done via the internet. But she knows how important libraries are.

At the University of Wisconsin, she spent “countless” nights researching papers and utilizing resources.

“I have always seen libraries as sanctuaries,” Lynsey says. “Now, I work primarily in war zones. Basic resources like food, water, electricity and shelter are a priority. Libraries would be the greatest luxury in these places. They are a sad casualty of the realities of war.”

Lynsey Addario photographed this young girl, who died delivering twins. The Sierra Leonean wanted to earn a degree, but at 14 was forced into marriage. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for NPR)

Lynsey Addario photographed this young girl, who died delivering twins. The Sierra Leonean wanted to earn a degree, but at 14 was forced into marriage. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for NPR)

The Westport Library is many things, to many people. We all use it in different, and varied, ways. But all of us find — and learn — something there.

On May 9, we can learn a little bit from Lynsey Addario — who learned more than a little bit in our own across-the-street library, a very brief lifetime ago.

(For more information on “Booked for the Evening” — including tickets — click here.)

Birthday Ball

Today is opening day for the Staples baseball team.

Who better to sing the national anthem than senior pitcher Jack Baylis?

Jack Baylis

Jack Baylis

It’s quite a day for him. After the game, he’ll hustle over to Southport’s Trinity Episcopal Church, to sing with Orphenians.

Plus, it’s Jack’s 18th birthday.

Play ball!

1st inning action: Newtown (at bat) against Staples.

1st inning action: Newtown (at bat) against Staples.

Jane Yolen Tackles Cinderella

The other day, US News & World Report ran a story on “Cinderella.” Bottom line: the new Disney film perpetuates the wrong image of the famous fairy tale character. She’s not the “sweet, accommodating and passive heroine” we’ve been led to believe; in earlier versions of the tale, Cinderella was really a brave, clever, assertive, savvy and ambitious princess.

Jane Yolen today...

Jane Yolen today…

The story quotes Jane Yolen, “one of America’s best-known storytellers.” As far back as 1977, she warned that the 1950 Disney version of “Cinderella” sends kids the wrong message.

Instead of learning that a wish and action can make dreams come true, children learn “only to wait for something or someone to save them.”

It’s not enough today, Yolen says, to rely solely on niceness.

She should know. A child of the 1950s — a time when gender roles were far more rigidly enforced than today — she carved an exciting path for herself.

And she did it in Westport.

...and Jane Yolen, 1955-56 Staples basketball captain.

…and Jane Yolen, 1955-56 Staples basketball captain.

The author or editor of more than 280 books — including Holocaust novella The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight — she was a dynamo at Staples. Before graduating in 1956 she was news editor of the school paper Inklings, captain of the girls basketball team, and vice president of the Spanish and Latin Clubs.

She also sang in the choir, served on the yearbook and Soundings literary magazine staffs, won 2 “Voice of Democracy” contests, and worked as a Westport Library page and Sunday school teacher.

Yolen went on to Smith College, and published her 1st book at 22. She also raised 3 children.

Far fewer doors were open to young women 60 years ago than today. But Jane Yolen walked (or, more likely, ran) through the ones that were — and probably pushed a few stuck ones open herself.

Sounds as if young girls (and boys) in 2015 should be watching a movie about her.

Not Cinderella.

(To learn more about Jane Yolen’s life, click on www.janeyolen.com)

New Staples Principal Named

當然有斯台普斯高中沒有新校長。教育委員會仍在尋找之一。今天是4月1日你是一個很容易上當的愚人節。

Конечно, нет никакой новой директором Staples High School.Совет по образованию по-прежнему ищет для одного. Сегодня 1 апреля Вы очень доверчивы первоапрельская.

بالطبع ليس هناك مدير جديد للستابلز في مدرسة ثانوية. مجلس التربية والتعليم ما زال يبحث عن واحدة. اليوم هو شهر أبريل 1. أنت كذبة السذج جدا ابريل نيسان.

Isi John Dodig ga-akwụsị a June.

Isi John Dodig ga-akwụsị a June.

Φυσικά, δεν υπάρχει καμία νέα αρχή της Staples Γυμνάσιο. Το Διοικητικό Συμβούλιο της Παιδείας είναι ακόμα ψάχνουν για ένα. Σήμερα είναι η 1η Απριλίου Είστε ένας πολύ αφελείς Πρωταπριλιά.

כמובן שאין מנהל חדש של בית ספר תיכון סטייפלס.מועצת החינוך עדיין מחפשת אחד. היום הוא 1 באפריל אתה אחד באפריל מאוד פתי.

ඇත්ත ස්ෙට්පල් උසස් පාසලේ නව විදුහල්පති පවතී. අධ්යාපන මණ්ඩලය තවමත් එක් සඳහා සොයමින් සිටී. අද දින ඔබ ඉතා රැවටිය අප්රේල් මෝඩයාගේ වේ අප්රේල් 1. වේ.

Kumene kulibe latsopano yaikulu ya zakudya zamtundu High School. Komiti ya Education akadali kufunafuna. Lero ndi April 1. Inu ndinu kwambiri amangokhulupirira April wakupupwa.

Wrth gwrs mae yna cyfarwyddwr newydd o Ysgol Uwchradd Staples. Y Bwrdd Addysg yn dal i chwilio am un. Mae heddiw yn Ebrill 1’re ffwl hygoelus iawn Ebrill.

Staples High School se toujou pou chèche yon direktè lekòl la.

Staples High School se toujou pou chèche yon direktè lekòl la.

Auðvitað er engin helsta ný af Staples High School. Stjórn Menntun er enn að leita fyrir einn. Í dag er 1. apríl Þú ert mjög gullible fífl apríl.

Natürlich gibt es keine neuen Rektor der Staples High School. Das Board of Education ist immer noch auf der Suche nach einem. Heute ist der 1. April Du bist ein sehr leichtgläubig Aprilscherz.

Naturalmente non vi è nuovo preside di Staples High School. Il Board of Education è ancora alla ricerca di uno. Oggi è il 1 aprile Sei un pazzo molto credulone aprile.

Bien sûr, il ne est pas nouveau directeur de Staples High School. Le Conseil de l’éducation est toujours à la recherche pour un. Aujourd’hui, ce est Avril 1. Vous êtes un imbécile très crédules Avril.

Por supuesto no hay un nuevo director de la Escuela Secundaria de Staples. La Junta de Educación aún está buscando una. Hoy es 1 de abril Eres un tonto de abril muy crédulo.