Roundup: Elliott Landon Funeral, School Security Officers, Generative AI …

The funeral for Dr. Elliott Landon — Westport’s superintendent of schools for 17 years, from 1999 to 2016 — will be held Monday (September 4, 10 a.m., Temple Israel). He died Thursday night, at 82.

Yesterday, assistant superintendent of schools John Bayers sent this message to staff:

“Elliott led the district through a very transformative period. From a facilities perspective he oversaw the reopening of Greens Farms Elementary School, the opening of the current Bedford Middle School, and the renovations of Staples High School. Those projects themselves could have pulled a superintendent’s focus away from the primary responsibility of overseeing the educational program of a district, but Elliott never wavered from keeping the focus on having excellent schools for students, staff and families.

“During Elliott’s time in Westport the words ‘Lighthouse District’ were often used to describe the strength of its schools. While Elliott had high expectations for the academic performance of students, he was always working with everyone to think about innovative ways for our schools to help students prepare for their lives after high school. He knew complacency and a focus on lofty district rankings would not serve our students, our families, our staff, and the community well. He was a true champion of meeting the individual needs of every child.

“There is no doubt stories about his incredible impact on the schools will be shared by many in the coming days, and I encourage those of you who did not have the chance to meet or work with him to listen intently as you will appreciate how his legacy is having a lasting effect on the district today. His impact is not just on our schools, but on the community as well.

“Shortly before his retirement Elliott met with the Westport News to reflect on his career. What is striking in that article (linked here) was Elliott’s realization that he had basically hired everyone in the district at that point. That is an amazing accomplishment. For those of us who were hired during Elliott’s tenure, it is also humbling.

“Please join me in keeping Elliott, his wife Joyce, their children Gillian and Judd and their spouses, their grandchildren, and their extended family in your thoughts during this difficult time.”

In 2015, students Liam Abourezk, BK Browne and Jack Sila showed Dr. Elliott Landon how they used QR codes on their smartphones, as part of a Staples High project involving art, writing and history.


On Wednesday, 3 Representative Town Meeting committees voted unanimously to recommend approval of a School Security Officers program, proposed by the Westport Police, First Selectwoman and Superintendent of Schools.

Three officers would be assigned to 2 school campuses each: Coleytown Middle and Elementary; Kings Highway/Saugatuck, and Long Lots/Greens Farms. Staples High and Bedford Middle School already have an officer on patrol.

The SSOs would work primarily outside, including assisting with traffic and deterring potential threats. They would enter schools only for emergencies.

The full RTM will act upon the request at its next meeting: Tuesday, September 5 (7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).


StartUp Westport — the organization dedicated to harnessing our town’s tech and entrepreneurial talent, and making it an innovation hub — starts up the fall with a meeting September 14 (6:30 p.m., meet and greet cocktails; 7 p.m. program; Westport Library).

Westporter Dan Bikel — a key member of the AI community at Meta — will speak on “Generative AI: NLP, Machine Learning and Large Language Models.”

The event is free, but pre-registration is mandatory. Click here to claim a spot.


Sherwood Island State Park — the site of Connecticut’s official 9/11 memorial — is once again the site of the state ceremony honoring the lives of residents killed in the terrorist attack.

The event is set for Thursday, September 7 (5:30 p.m.). Family members of will participate, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut will be read aloud. Governor Lamont and Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz will participate.

The Sherwood Island memorial is located on a peninsula. The memorial is engraved with the names of people with ties to Connecticut who died on 9/11.

On a clear day the Manhattan skyline is visible across Long Island Sound. Immediately following the attacks, people gathered there to observe the devastation in Lower Manhattan.

In the following days, the area was used by the Connecticut National Guard as a staging area for relief efforts.

The 9/11 memorial at Sherwood Island State Park.


PopUp Bagels’ tagline is “Not famous, but known.”

They may soon be shopping for a new one.

People Magazine just gave the Westport-based bakers a “Top Delicious Destination” designation.

Popup Bagels has already taken our town and county by storm. Next, they conquered the Big Apple.

Now, will it play in Peoria?

As anyone who has tried to get a good bagel outside of this area hopes: God willing.


Yesterday’s Roundup noted that Rev. Willie Salmond will be the guest preacher at tomorrow’s Saugatuck Congregational Church 10 a.m. worship — and that all Westporters are invited to share memories of longtime pastor Rev. Ted Hoskins.

That will be Rev. Salmond’s 2nd service of the day. At 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, he leads the summer’s final early morning service, at Compo Beach.

Sunday morning beach service at Compo. (Photo/Karen Como)


Speaking of Compo Beach:

This has been the Summer of Tents, on the sand.

Some people love the shade and breeze they provide, along with ease of putting up and taking down.

Others think they’re too big and intrusive. And too many.

But — in the waning days of the season — here is a new trend: tents that sprawl far beyond their footprint.

Yea or nay? Click “Comments” below.

(Photo/John Cravenho)


In 2015, the Westport Weston Family YMCA received a large and unexpected gift from the estate of Ruth Bedford.

The granddaughter of Y founder Edward T. Bedford, she had died the previous year, at 99. The board of trustees established the Ruth Bedford Social Responsibility Fund. Its endowment supports grants to organizations that provide direct or supplemental educational opportunities in Fairfield County.

The fund is now accepting preliminary applications for the 2023-24 grant cycle. The deadline is September 9.

Last year, the Bedford Fund awarded $300,000 to 31 Fairfield County organizations. Their programs support equitable education programs for students.

Click here for more information. Click here for the grant application. Questions? Contact director of development Kate Guthrie:; 203-226-8981.

Some recipients of the Westport Weston Family YMCA Ruth Bedford Social Responsibility Fund.


Last spring, the Westport Library partnered with New York’s Song Arts Academy, for an 8-week songwriting workshop for middle and high school students.

This fall, adults get their chance.

The 2-hour songwriting program runs 8 Mondays (6:30 to 8:30 p.m.), beginning September 18. The course is once again taught by former Westporter Billy Seidman, an experienced songwriter and the author of “The Elements of Song Craft.”

Participants learn the techniques and mechanics of great song-writing, including critiques of famous tunes. During the final 2 weeks, participants record a song in the Library’s Verso Studio.

Previous songwriting experience is not necessary. For more information, email To register, click here.

Billy Seidman


Marisa Zer grows flowers for florists, shops and private customers.

Today she shares a scene at her dahlia patch — “bees lining up at the flower bar” — for our “Westport … Naturally” features.

(Photo/Marisa Zer)


And finally … A tribute to Jimmy Buffett will come tomorrow. Meanwhile, in honor of Billy Seidman’s songwriting class at the Westport Library (story above):

 (I write the stories. You may or may not write the songs. But please write a check to support our “06880” work. Click here — and thank you!)

10 responses to “Roundup: Elliott Landon Funeral, School Security Officers, Generative AI …

  1. Love the giant tent. Only thing missing is the three car garage. Maybe next summer?

  2. I think a portable beach car port into which one can ride their scooter/4-wheeler and then have a pop up buffet table with all the trimmings is in the cards for next summer? Parks and rec should just carve out sand plots for rental space. Seems amazing a couple of people can take up a beach footprint for a group of 20.

  3. Tents this size are ridiculous and spoil the view for many. Parks and Rec should only allow umbrellas

    • I’m all for umbrellas at the beach but I think if people want to bring big tents or cabanas they should be designated in areas behind the life guard stands.

  4. Is anyone really surprised by the land/beach grabbing by using oversized tent? It’s so typical Westport -to heck with blocking views and access to the beach by others, taking up more space than necessary, no consideration of others. Post- Covid Westport community self centeredness is thriving all over town. The town has changed and not for the better. Maybe- and that’s a big maybe – Parks and Rec will do something to regulate or require tent permits and only give out a few each day, But, I won’t hold my breath.

  5. Never too early to carve out some space for the Fireworks!

  6. The tents are grotesque and properly egomaniacal.

  7. The Ruth Bedford gift to the YMCA , unfortunately enabled the y to buy the red barn, a Westport treasure.
    They lied and said it was for day care etc…
    It has been allowed to be purposely let go to hell so no doubt when it’s actually falling down they can come in and raze it and do dons huge development..
    Ruth Bedford did none of us any favors whatsoever allowing the y access to many tens of millions. I understand they have been building up quite the real estate portfolio since.
    What a pity

  8. Three RTM Committees voted unanimously to recommend the RTM approve the School Security Officers (“SSO”) program as proposed by the Westport Police, First Selectwoman and Superintendent of Schools. First time I’ve ever experienced both unanimous positive comments as well as vote from one committee, much less three! Obviously the unfortunate state of affairs in America in regards to the school shooter issue is the driver for people, otherwise opposed to police in or near schools, to have to put personal feelings aside for the greater purpose of protecting our kids and I applaud their willingness to do so.
    But with all the emphasis on security, the higher and more important purpose of a true School Resource Officer (“SRO”) has been neglected. The major difference between an SSO & SRO is that the SSO does not spend anytime IN the schools unless requested by the Principal or in an emergency situation. An SRO spends time within the school, interacting with students and staff on a daily basis, forging and building positive relationships with students and acting as a proactive deterrent to disciplinary issues, bullying, substance abuse as well as intervening in potential mental health issues, suicide, etc. all side by side with school administrators and staff. They are hand-picked for aptitude, attitude and demeanor, specifically trained both initially and continually in these skills. So they are not just law enforcement officers. Everyone involved has extolled the tremendous benefit the Staples SRO has brought to the table in this regard. Although I would like to see SROs in all our schools, functioning at a psychological level consistent with each age group, I firmly believe the Board of Education is being shortsighted in not at least approving SROs in the middle schools. As most parents know the behavioral problems fully exhibited in high school have their start in middle school and then the pressures of high school just exacerbate those problems. As effective as the SRO is on these issues in Staples, they would be even more effective relationship building and early intervening with these budding issues in the middle school. At Wednesday’s meeting Chief Koskinos stated that the conversion of an SSO to a fully functional SRO would only entail the decision by the BOE to do so, no change in expense or manpower would be required.
    So, while I hope that the community will come out at 7PM on September 5th at the Town Hall to show support for the RTM to approve the SSO request, I am also hoping the community would voice support for approving the plan but with the proviso that if the BOE sees fit, the RTM recommends the middle school SSOs be adjusted to be fully functioning SROs with no further vote needed.
    After all is there anything more important than our kid’s safety?
    Please come out and support the proposal.

What do you think? Please comment! Remember: All commenters must use full, real names!