They Do Grow Up!

On July 1, 2003, a small group gathered underneath a pear tree, on a patch of grass separating a rutted parking lot from the sprawling, 1-story Staples High School campus.

Several speakers at the low-key ceremony praised the high school as “the jewel in the crown” of the Westport school system.

Then superintendent of schools Elliott Landon, principal John Brady, 1st selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, Board of Education chair Sandra Urist and 10 other educators, politicians, citizen-volunteers and Turner Construction Company representatives turned over symbolic shovels of dirt.

Ground was broken for construction of an even more sprawling, 3-story school. Another major chapter in Staples’ fabled history had begun.

The Westport News ran a front-page photo of a young boy helping out:

As the caption noted, 4-year-old Jacob Leaf was the grandson of Dan Kail, chairman of the Staples School Building Sub-Committee.

The paper was wrong, however. Jacob is a member of the Class of 2017 — not 2018.

Tomorrow (Thursday, June 22, 2 p.m.), he and over 450 classmates graduate.

They’ll do so in the fieldhouse — one of the only parts of the building not touched by the $84 million renovation.

The project — completed in 2005 — transformed Staples forever. It is a 21st-century building, and this year’s graduating class have done their high school — and town — proud.

Sitting especially proudly in tomorrow’s crowd will be one of the Westporters most responsible for the modern Staples High School: Jacob’s grandfather, Dan Kail.

Congratulations to all the graduates; to all who made Staples possible, and all who continue to do so.

7 responses to “They Do Grow Up!

  1. Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

  2. Please send out a pic of the graduate today too:)

  3. Big Congrats to the Class of ’18!

  4. After living right around the corner from Staples for a decade, and never having had the time to go see the Staples Players, a friend insisted that I go see their performance of Fiddler on the Roof. It was jaw-dropping in general, but Jacob Leaf’s performance as Tevye was so inspired I was sure that they had cheated and hired a middle-aged actor. I googled him when I got home and found out that Jacob Leaf was indeed not 18 . . . he was 15! The three year old photo that came up was of a baby-faced 12 year old with a soccer ball in a field. My how they grow! Needless to say, I haven’t missed a show since. Here’s wishing all the graduates much happiness in the future.

  5. Dan Kail has done so much for Westport. I am glad you brought this to our attention because he is a real unsung hero. I’m sure Jacob Leaf will be the topic of future articles of yours because there is no doubt we’ll be seeing his name in lights.

  6. I need to give a shout out here to my wife, Jayne Schoeller, who served as the Staples PTA president during the time of moving this project through countless hours of meetings and debates as to how it would actually get done. In fact she served TWO years in this role because the co-president moved leaving Jayne to take on the second year of leadership on this project. We still have the Turner Construction hard hat from this ceremony!

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