The Staples High School soccer field honors Albie Loeffler. The field hockey turf next to it is named for Jinny Parker. Last month, the track was dedicated to Laddie Lawrence.
If a group of former athletes and fans have their way, the football field will soon bear a new name.
That would be fitting. Lane — now 93 — was not only the Wreckers’ longtime football coach. He also headed the track program. In the 1960s, one of his runners was a young Laddie Lawrence.
Paul Lane, by the Staples High School football trophy case.
A petition circulating throughout town says:
Paul Lane has served his community for as long as he has been alive.
His leadership, skills and determination has demonstrated that the dreams and abilities he has instilled on others, ripple through the world.
We have many coaches in our town, but no one other then Paul Lane is called, “Coach.” Paul Lane is a patriarch of coaches, the father of Staples High School sports, who laid the rails for Wreckers football and it’s legacy of success known throughout the Northeast.
The Staples High School football field may soon be named for Paul Lane.
Paul Lane’s biggest win was against Stamford Catholic High School in 1967, beating them 8-0 and crushing their 30 game winning streak.
Paul Lane not only served this community by being a coach and second father to many of his athletes, but also served his country in the Korean War, stationed in Germany.
Football wasn’t the only sport he coached and won state championships in, Paul Lane also coached Staples Boys Track and Staples Girl’s Golf teams.
30 years of coaching, Paul Lane would later on coach American Football in England and Italy.
Coach Paul Lane can be found everyday at his home on Soundview where he has been for decades, surrounded by his four children, ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Paul Lane is staple to Staples and this community and should be honored with his name, added to the Fifth Lane of the track as proposed by Laddie Lawrence who was coached by Paul Lane too.
The petition can be signed here. It will be presented to the Board of Education at this Monday’s meeting. It would go next to the Representative Town Meeting.
It’s tough to keep a secret from a school administrator. They’re supposed to know everything.
But a conspiracy of silence — involving colleagues, students and friends — worked this week. When Meghan Ward walked into the Pathways suite at Staples High School yesterday, she had no idea a mural would be unveiled in her honor.
Ward — an assistant principal — heads to a new job soon: principal of John Read Middle School in Redding. In her 5 years at Staples, she’s earned respect and admiration — and changed countless lives — as, among other things, Pathways supervisor.
That’s the “school within a school” offering alternative educational opportunities for students experiencing academic, behavioral and/or life challenges in the traditional setting.
The 4 Pathways teachers work closely with small groups of students. They wanted to honor the woman who helped create the program, then championed it in every setting.
They asked students what would be meaningful to them. Their idea: a bright, evocative mural.
Meghan Ward, in her Staples office. (Photo/Dan Woog)
“Meghan had a vision for how Pathways could run,” says English instructor Ann Neary.
“She imagined how students could engage in school, and what their possibilities could be. She supported teachers’ ideas, met with us weekly, sent us for trainings, and advocated for what we need to make this program work.”
Student Charlotte D’Anna sketched the design. Students voted for the concept. Principal Stafford Thomas okayed painting a classroom wall. Art instructor Tracy Wright helped Neary understand all about mural paints and brushes.
Then the students went to work. They loved what they were doing — and it showed.
Hard at work! Science teacher Tony Coccoli is at far left; English instructor Ann Neary is in the middle. Other teachers (not pictured) are Mike Forgette (math) and Dan Heaphy (social studies).
Alicia D’Anna — a Staples Players parent and professional set designer — organized and managed the process. Her eldest child Sami graduated from Pathways last year.
That alumni connection was evident yesterday when Ward walked in, was moved to tears by the mural — and saw nearly a dozen Pathways alum on hand too.
Meghan Ward, with her mural. (Photo/Maryann Garcia)
Meghan Ward created a pathway to success for a number of Staples students. Her work will be remembered for years — thanks to a mural that now graces a Pathways wall.
Melvin (Mike) Saul Silverstein of Worcester, Massachusetts, died on May 18. He was 95.
An award-winning educator, prized friend and co-worker, he took on diverse roles in education and his communities and was a longtime advocate for the less fortunate.
Silverstein grew up in Hartford, the youngest son of immigrant parents from eastern Europe. He attended Hartford public schools and worked with his siblings at the family-operated People’s Dairy, a milk processing and delivery company.
Only 17, he enlisted in the US Army Air Force in 1943, training to serve as a gunner on a B-24 Liberator just as World War II ended. He was awarded the WW II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
After his discharge in May 1946. Silverstein attended Hillyer College (now the University of Hartford), where he met his wife Florence. They married in 1948. He graduated in 1950, and obtained his Masters of Education in 1956.
He became a teacher and counselor for Glastonbury High School, then in 1960 moved from East Hartford to Norwalk, and joined the guidance staff of Darien High School.
During the summer of 1966 Silverstein led a group of 22 students to Israel on a service project under the auspices of the New York City-based 92nd Street Y.
In 1967 he took on a guidance role at Staples High, and dramatically expanded it. Over 2 decades he became a fixture in Westport education — active and pioneering in career counseling, adult education and work/study programs.
In 1978 he was named the outstanding counselor in the state of Connecticut by the Connecticut School Counselor Assn.
He also volunteered at the Hope Center in Bridgeport. Simultaneously he was an energetic member of Temple Shalom in Norwalk, becoming principal of the religious school.
Melvin (Mike) Silverstein
Silverstein was married to the late Florence Heath Silverstein for 68 years. He is survived by his children: Lucy Tannen of Framingham, Massachusetts; Jeffrey Silverstein of Blackstone, Massachusetts; Timothy Silverstein (Sally) of Norwalk, Melanie Rosenbaum (Bruce) of Thorndike, Massachusetts.
He also leaves grandchildren: Caroline Savitzky, Alex Savitzky, Kate Silverstein, Ben Silverstein, Lindsay Navarro, Michael Silverstein, Joseph Rosenbaum, and and, as well as great-grandchildren; Devin Smith; Paige, Jordan and Zoey Savitzky; Jonathan and Nicole Navarro, and Madilyn and Salma Delgado-Savitzky.
Silverstein is also survived by his brother Nathan Silverstein of Branford, Connecticut; cousin Marilyn Benson of Bloomfield, Connecticut, and many nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his brother Irving and his twin sister Evelyn Fain.
A memorial service will be held late in June in Hartford, followed by a social gathering to share memories and thoughts. Those wishing to attend should call Jeff Silverstein: 774-270-0769.
In lieu of flowers please consider donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, Diabetes Research Institute, University of Hartford, or the Jewish Healthcare Center in Worcester, MA. Click here to leave online condolences.
Alan Chalk died at home, surrounded by love, on May 31. He was 89.
Chalk was born in 1931 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He and his beloved wife Norma LaFlamme married 70 years ago.
Chalk joined the Navy during the Korean War, and did 2 world tours. In 1952, his experiences traveling in Japan and meeting the people touched him deeply. A lifelong journey commenced.
He received his teaching degree at Wesleyan University, and attended the University of Iowa Ph.D. program. He moved to Fairfield in 1961, where he lived the rest of his life.
His first teaching position was at Staples High School, developing an innovative creative writing program. He became chairman of the English Department at Weston High School in 1972. He was voted Teacher of the Year in 1989. He retired from Weston High School in 1991.
Chalk began a new career as consultant, writer and teacher specializing in postwar and contemporary Japanese literature and film, and developed an extensive library. He created the curriculum for the first Center for Japanese Study Abroad magnet school in Norwalk.
He traveled extensively but Japan remained closest to his heart. He led tours for students, teachers and family, sharing his knowledge and love of Japan. He wrote novels, short stories and poetry, many inspired by his travels in Japan.
Chalk was a master teacher, writer, wood sculptor and photographer. He also found time to raise 5 children with Norma, remodeling the house, and creating beautiful gardens.
Chalk said, “I exist in a style of anonymity and I ask a thousand questions. I find that I ask questions I don’t have the answer to and this may be the key to effective teaching. I am always learning. Every day.”
He loved teaching. His deep care for his students and staff is reflected in the letters from students and parents, thanking him for his inspiration and caring during pivotal times in their lives, as well as those from teachers whom he helped to become master teachers themselves. He impacted many lives.
A plaque on his wall — a gift — reads:”A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Chalk is survived by daughters Lynn and Karen; sons Brian, Gary and David; son-in-law Scott, daughter-in-law Laura; grandchildren Jesse, Danielle, Gabrielle, Billy, Maya, Sammy, Nicole and her family Jeff, Tenley, Caiden Blaiotta, and great-grandchildren Lyla and Jude.
He was predeceased by his wife Norma, an integral part of his accomplishments and to whom he gives much of the credit.
Dan Magida, a former student at Staples over 50 years ago, was one of his best friends.
But the shopping behemoth is taking over Avi Kaner’s parking spots.
Every morning at 8:30, the former Westport 2nd selectman/Board of Finance chair — and, more importantly for this story, an owner of the 16-store Morton Williams grocery store chain in New York — sees trucks part in front of 2 of his Upper East Side markets.
Workers appear. For the next 5 hours, Crains’ New York Business reports, they use hand trucks to deliver groceries to residents who ordered from Amazon online.
“They use it like a warehouse,” Kaner says. “The city is allowing these places to block our business.”
An Amazon spokeswoman described the scene as an “exchange point.”
Kaner notes that Morton Williams’ sales in residential areas are down only 5-15% from pre-COVID levels, but that stores in business districts are still doing just half of their previous numbers. (Click here for the full Crains’ story.)
Avi Kaner in a Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)
The Westport PAL car show set for June 20 has been postponed to July 17. It’s still 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; still at the railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street); it still features cool cars, food and raffle prizes.
Tickets are still $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are still free.
The Board of Education heard good news on several fronts last night. Reporter Brian Fullenbaum says:
Meeting for the first time since 2020 in person, members began with an update from Westport Public Schools supervisor of health services Suzanne Levasseur. Staples High School has not experienced a COVID case since May 2, and there have been no reported cases in the district since May 25.
In fact, there were no cases at all in Westport this week.
At this point, local schools will not require COVID vaccines for the fall. The state is not expected to mandate them either.
Summer schools will have a nurse in the building this year, and masks will be needed.
Director of human resources John Bayers reported that for the coming school year, 112 sections are budgeted at the 5 elementary schools. As of June 3, confirmed enrollment suggested 115 sections. Principals of Kings Highway and Long Lots are also predicting one more section each, which would bring the total to 117.
Enrollment at Long Lots Elementary School — as at the other elementary schools — may rise this fall.
Bayers speaks with the principals every day. All school buildings can handle the predicted extra classes.
Assistant superintendent Anthony Buono noted that Tri-State — the professional network of 55 area districts — said that while the district faced numerous daily obstacles during the pandemic, it provided students with a positive experience.
The board engaged in a long discussion about learning loss. Board members brought up the amount of screen time, lack of socially rich experiences, and frustration with technology.
In other matters, the board postponed a decision on a provision in the proposed “deadly weapons or firearms policy” about allowing a registered and accepted gun on campus. Members also discussed the hate-based speech policy.
Educators also established tuition rates for out-of-town students, including children of school employees and those in other circumstances.
Currently, 35 children of employees attend school here; the number is expected to be approximately the same in 2021-22. They are charged 25% of the tuition rate for various grade levels. A 3% increase for the coming year was approved.
World Language Department coordinator Marie Zachery described the success of Westport’s exchange programs in Singapore and France, and suggested expanding opportunities to Spain, Germany, Greece and Panama.
The board will move forward on a proposal to name the Staples stadium for former football and track coach Paul Lane.
The pandemic was tough. At times, it was hard to believe the sun would come up tomorrow.
But it did. We persevered. And now we’re reaping the rewards.
Among them: a production of “Annie Jr.” by Greens Farms Elementary School 5th graders.
The show — on June 4-6, outdoors near Bedford Square — is a collaboration with TheaterCamp4KidsBroadwayAcademy.com. But it would not have been possible without help from throughout the community.
Many were available only because of COVID.
“We have the most wonderful young actors, parents, and theater and dance professionals,” says Laura Curley Pendergast, TheaterCamp owner and artistic director.
Volunteers include a Rockette, a former choreographer for “Disney on Ice,” professional actors and set designers, and others.
In true the-show-must-go-on style, TheaterCamp faced — and overcame — many challenges. Among them: Though they earned nearly $10,000 in ticket sales after the March 2020 production of “Beauty and the Beast” at GFS, the ticket company never paid them.
“After many attempts we finally gave up. The cost of an attorney was just too expensive,” Pendergast says.
“We thought we could not do a play this year for our very talented 5th graders, who had been waiting in the ensemble for 2 years for their turn to star.”
Rehearsing “Annie Jr.” at Bedford Square.
But many Westporters stepped up. Among them: David Waldman, who provided space to rehearse and perform at Bedford Square.
Tecknow’s Phil Levieff lent musical equipment for rehearsals — along with technical know-how.
Professional film and stage actor Emily Hooper serves as musical director. David Hoffman, a Dartmouth student and accomplished actor, is assistant director and stage manager. Staples High and middle school students are interning with the show.
Professional actor Jim Lauten — also a talented painter and builder — donated all of the rolling sets.
Costumes were provided by designer Pam Beaudoin, who lives at Bedford Square.
Parents Jenny Perlman and Laurie Ginsberg handle ticket sales — not an outside company. (Pendergast learned her lesson.)
She is grateful for the help of other locals with impressive resumes. Kristine Nielsen (a GFS parent) is a professional dancer who choreographed “Disney on Ice” for years.
Former Rockette and Knicks dancer Kelly Potter McHale is another “Annie Jr.” choreographers. So is Kim Porio.
Costumes have been handled by a hard-working trio: Marisa Zer, Taran Gulliksen and Shobana Mani-Lorenzato.
Volunteers help the young actors make magic.
One of the first rehearsals was at the GFS basketball court in cold and rain. After seeking shelter on the school’s front porch, the young actors found a way to make it a fun day. It remains a favorite memory.
The sun eventually came out. And so — next week — will the young actors and dancers in “Annie Jr.”
(“Annie Jr. is performed Friday, June 4 at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 5 at 2 and 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 6 at 2 p.m., outdoors near Bedford Square. Tickets are $18 each. They can be purchased by Venmo (@laura-pendergast-2), PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or check (payable to “TheaterCamp4Kids,” c/o Laurie Ginsberg, 209 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880). Questions? Email email@example.com. To help via GoFundMe, click here.)
Meanwhile, the fledgling Saugatuck Elementary Theater Club also struggled with how to continue this year.
They too decided the show must go on. They chose “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, with a twist. They’d record parts individually, and create a movie in lieu of a live show.
With a small cast and cartoon quality, it lent itself to green screens and graphics, rather than props and elaborate costumes. That was a great fit for the pandemic.
Luckily, local Broadway star Jaden Waldman — who just happens to be a Saugatuck 5th grade — had some COVID-induced time on his hands. He’s a perfect Charlie Brown.
Jaden Waldman as Charlie Brown, Phoebe Nunziato as Lucy.
Other roles were double cast, to provide more opportunities for the young actors. The 2 casts were called “Saugie” and “Tuck.”
Rehearsals were held on Zoom. Leads recorded practice songs each week, then uploaded them to receive feedback.
Blocking was recorded by director Katie Bloom, and shared via instructional videos.
Each child sang alone. Vocal tracks were then layered together. Zoom recordings were deconstructed and reconstructed. Microphones and green screens were juggled between cast members’ houses. When possible, they came together for a socially distanced scene or two.
The “Tuck” cast rehearses via Zoom.
The project required dedication and responsibility seldom demanded of 10- year-olds.
It all culminates Wednesday (June 2) in a big way: the big screen at the Remarkable Theatre. Congratulations to all the good men — and women, and children — who helped make “Charlie Brown” a reality.
(The Remarkable Theater opens at 6:30 p.m. The show starts at sunset, and costs $40 per car. A pizza truck will be on the premises. For tickets — or to stream the show on June 4, 7 p.m. —click here.)
(Hat tips: Jenny Perlman Robinson and Pamela Long)
That’s the name of a Westport Library/Town of Westport-sponsored panel on June 3 (7 p.m., at the Library or via Zoom).
2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker will lead a discussion with 3 great — and very different — local businesses.
Sam Gault of Gault Energy, Dr. EJ Zebro (TAP Strength Lab) and Gina Porcello (GG & Joe) will share “Stories from the Pandemic.” They’ll describe what they learned, how they survived — and how they’re thriving.
Speaking of Staples: 4 juniors have earned Superior Achievement in Writing awards. The honor comes from the prestigious National Council of Teachers of English.
Caroline Coffey, Matthew Genser, Maya Markus-Malone and Talia Perkins
were honored as among the best student writers in the nation. In addition to submitting a piece of “best writing,” contest entrants were asked to craft a piece in any genre that took readers inside a community that is important to them, and convey the beauty they see within it.
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows black swallowtails at Sherwood Island State Park:
And finally … legendary Muscle Shoals drummer Jerry Roger Hawkins died last week. He was 75, and had suffered from numerous illnesses.
Producer Jerry Wexler called him “the greatest drummer of all time.”
Hawkins — a member of both the Swampers and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section session groups — played on hits like “Respect,” ” “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “Mustang Sally.” As great as those songs are, listen again. Without Hawkins’ drumming, they’d have a lot less respect. Click here for a full obituary.
Yesterday, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice addressed the easing of COVID restrictions in Connecticut. He said:
Both the CDC and state Department of Public Health have maintained their recommendation for masks inside the school building for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff for the remainder of the current school year. However, with our low community transmission rates in both the town and our schools, as well as an increasing number of vaccinated staff and students, masks will no longer be required for students when outdoors for both recess and PE.
The State Department of Education announced that there will be no remote learning requirement for the upcoming school year (2021-2022). The Westport Public Schools will not offe remote learning as a permanent instructional option for next school year, unless otherwise mandated by the CSDE. The remote learning option, like a number of other approaches and investments, has been critical to our remarkable success this year. Although students have experienced success in this pandemic year, if anything else, this year clearly proved that there is no replacement for in-person learning. We look forward to welcoming all students in-person for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
As the end of year events begin to pick up, I ask that we all do our part to continue to thank our faculty, and all of our support staff across the system, for their extraordinary work this year. There was no playbook. We approached the year in 4-6 week increments. Yet as we look back, we carefully navigated a generational pandemic to serve our students and while earnestly attending to their social, emotional, and academic needs. A great deal will be written about this era. I, for one, will remember the people and the acts of kindness, commitment, and professionalism that carried us towards an increasingly brighter light at the end of this tunnel.
The town of Westport has leased 2 new Chevy Bolts for staff field work. They’ll be used for municipal inspections by the Public Works Engineering Division and the Assessor’s Office.
A cost benefit analysis has proven that these vehicles are both environmentally friendly, and cost effective.
The choice of Chevy Bolts was based on their overall low price, good reputation, and compact size. The cars also have a low maintenance cost and a longer expected service life than competitors. Both vehicles are at the standard option level.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe says, “We are very proud of Westport’s advancement in electric vehicle usage and municipal charging stations. Investments such as the Police Department’s purchase of a Model 3 Tesla are proving to be beneficial, and we expect the same for the municipal fleet. These Bolts help move Westport closer toward meeting sustainability goals.”
From left: Assessor Paul Friia, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Dawn Henry of Sustainable Westport, Finance director Gary Conrad, Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich with the new Chevy Bolts.
Several readers have not seen the Fresh Market ospreys for awhile. I asked “06880”‘s resident expert, Carolyn Doan, for an update She says:
“The osprey are incubating right now. so they are very difficult to see in a nest that is high up.
“Usually the female does most of the sitting while the male brings back food. He does take over for her from time to time to give her a much needed stretch or break. She is the one with a more speckled chest. His chest is more white (in case you wanted to try and discern between the two if you notice one in a tree).
“If not fishing, the one taking a break is usually in a nearby tree. In this case there is a big pine tree to the right of the Fresh Market nest. You can usually see one of the pair there. Or look across the street behind Dunkin Donuts. At the top of a bare tree behind the building you will see a large bird. (Usually the male. He loves this spot for some reason.”)
“My grandmother was a friend of the engine builder/designer Charlie Lawrence (2nd autograph from left in photo below).
The day before the flight, Mr. Lawrence asked my grandmother, ‘Do you want to see this fellow take off at 5 a.m. to fly solo across the Atlantic?’
“She replied, ‘Charlie, you’re drunk.’ She did not go. But because she was fluent in French, he asked her to write Lindergh’s letter of introduction for when he landed. As a thank you, she received this picture of Lindbergh and Lawrence and their signatures, taken just before he took off.”
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)