Category Archives: Staples HS

Roundup: WWPT, Afghan Refugees, Dog Festival …

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They might have to rename the John Drury Awards “The WWPT Awards.”

For the squintillionth year in a row, Staples’ FM radio station cleaned up in the annual high school broadcast competition.

The station — 90.3 on your dial! — won 4 categories earlier this month:

  • Best Radio Drama — Original or Adaptation (“The Wizard of Oz,” with Staples Players)
  • Best Sportscast (Zach Brody)
  • Best Sports Talk Program (“Bold Predictions,” with Rory Tarsy, Max Udell and Caleb Tobias)
  • Best Sports Play-by-Play (FCIAC lacrosse championship, Staples vs. Darien, with Cam Manna and Max Dorsey).

Radio is alive and well. Congratulations to all, and of course to instructor Geno Heiter.

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Westporters have responded generous to a call to help Afghan refugees resettling in the area.

A final collection of needed items is set for this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, October 16 and 17, 12 to 3 p.m.).

Men’s and women’s coats; teen and children warm clothes; boots, scarves, warm hats and umbrellas; backpacks filled with school supplies, and household toiletries, towels and cleaning supplies can all be dropped off at  Greens Farms Congregational Church.

Backpacks and school supplies are among the items needed for Afghan refugees.

 

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The weather looks great for tomorrow’s oft-postponed Dog Festival.

The event is set for Sunday (October 17, Winslow Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and TAILS, it features demonstrations, fun competitions, police K-9 presentations, kids’ activities, vendors, food trucks, a special appearance by Piglet (the blind and deaf chihuahua) and more.

Tickets are $10 per person, $25 for a family of 4. Dogs go free. Proceeds benefit non-profit organizations.

Dog owners can register for the competitions online or at the festival.

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Interested in the kind of world today’s students will inherit? Do you have ideas how our schools can prepare them for it?

The Westport Public Schools invites all Westporters to an Education Summit next Wednesday (October 20, 6 to 8 p.m., Bedford Middle School auditorium).

Futurist Michael Weiss offers a keynote address, then lead an interactive discussion. It’s part of superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice’s Strategic Plan, aimed at taking our district into the next decade and beyond.

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Three residents of the Gillespie Center are moving on to permanent supportive housing.

Homes with Hope is proud of the success of these formerly homeless men. And they’re asking Westporters to help them succeed.

They’ve created a Signup Genius for donations of bedding, household items, furniture and gift cards. Click here to help.

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Fred Cantor is many things: an attorney, off-Broadway and documentary producer, longtime Westporter and avid “06880” reader.

he’s also the author of “Fred from Fresh Meadows,” a memoir of his many years as a New York Knicks fan.

Now the NBA team has repaid the honor.

A 15-second commercial spot featuring Fred, his brother’s older son and brother’s almost 3-year-old grandson premiered last night, during a Knicks preseason game.

It’s part of an MSG Network promotional campaign spotlighting diehard fans. Fred’s spot focuses on his book, and his 6 decades of fandom.

It was filmed earlier this month in the schoolyard behind his former elementary school in Queens.

Fred Cantor (right), being filmed with his nephew Sam and great-nephew Brody.

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It’s been a while since we ran an osprey update. The other day, Franco Fellah spotted this young bird in the trees over the Saugatuck River, opposite his office on Riverside Avenue. Ospreys epitomize “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

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And finally … on this date in 1875, Brigham Young University was founded in Provo, Utah.

Father-Son “Falsettoland”

In 1994, Staples Players staged an entirely student-run production of “Falsettos.”

Directed by senior Ari Edelson, the Tony Award-winning musical — dealing with hot-button issues like AIDS, homosexuality and religion — was a smash. Audience members were in tears; cast members called it “life-changing.”

But the show was not produced at the high school. Administrators — unnerved by the themes — forced the show off campus. The Westport Country Playhouse welcomed it to their historic stage.

Shirah Lipson Sklar remembers it well. She was a Staples student then; her friends acted in the show, and played in the pit. The 4 sold-out performances were momentous events.

Now the senior rabbi at Temple Shalom in Norwalk, she’ll revisit it again next month. “Falsettoland” — the 2nd act of “Falsettos” — runs weekends at the Music Theatre of Connecticut.

It will be especially poignant for Shirah. Her son Ari plays Jason, who is preparing for his bar mitzvah.

Dan Sklar — Shirah’s husband, and Ari’s father — is in the cast too. He’s Marvin, Jason’s father. In the show he suffers from a mysterious, undefined illness. The audience knows it is AIDS.

Ari Sklar

Acting and singing come naturally to Ari, a Coleytown Middle School 7th grader. Shirah sang beautifully as a Staples Orphenian under director Alice Lipson — her own mother. Dan was an actor more than 20 years ago, but stopped performing when he entered rabbinic school.

Still, Ari was surprised when he learned that his stage father would be his real father. Dan is proud that Ari has long been an advocate for social justice. And he realized that as Ari prepares for his own, actual bar mitzvah, sharing the stage in a show like this was too good to pass up.

Ari did not know that Dan auditioned with director Kevin Connors. A 12-year-old boy may not be thrilled about being in a musical with his father, Dan admits. But now that they’re rehearsing — sharing the process of putting together a very important play — Ari is enjoying their new on- and off-stage roles.

Dan calls the show “an old friend.” He knew “Falsettos” well in his performing days. Many actor friends were gay; he helped raise money through work with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Dan Sklar

“There are so many layers to this play,” he notes. “As we go through dark, tough times, with another disease, it’s important to have ‘up’ moments like these.”

As rehearsals continue, Dan sees his son through new eyes. “He’s an amazing kid — well, not really a kid anymore,” he says. “We’re proud he’s growing up in a town that celebrates people for who they are. Every day he teaches us about acceptance, affirmation, and the changing world.

“I might be completely overwhelmed at the end, at the bar mitzvah scene. I just hope I can say my lines to him.”

After this, the proud father says, Ari’s real bar mitzvah in June will be a breeze.

(“Falsettoland” will be performed November 5-21: Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk. Click here for tickets and more information.) 

Roundup: Supply Chain, Air-Cooled Autos, Entitled Cars …

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David Pogue’s “CBS Sunday Morning” reports are always entertaining — and informative. If you’re not a regular viewer — you should be.

Yesterday’s was particularly educational. It was also quite local.

Our Westport neighbor explained the supply chain crisis — why so many goods are not on shelves, despite gluts — with an opening and closing at the Southport Diner.

Owner Tony Pertesis explains — in clear, direct diner-speak exactly why his customers can’t always count on things as basic as Gatorade and whipped butter. Pogue adds the rest.

Bottom line: Toilet paper hoarding is back. Just in time for the holidays. Click below to see:

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Air-cooled cars stopped traffic along Myrtle Avenue yesterday. They vehicles were parked — and exhibited — on Veterans Green. Sponsored by the Small Car Company, the show raised money for Person-to-Person in Norwalk.

Westport-based Small Car Company — a club for air-cool aficionados — is loosely connected to the car dealership of the same name. It was located on Post Road West, diagonally across from Kings Highway Elementary School. Today we know it as Carvana.

Seen at Veteran’s Green. (Photo/Sarathi Roy)

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Speaking of cars downtown: “06880’s” Entitled Parking feature has very high standards. We now only post photos of cars that take up 3 spaces (or more). Two spots is waaaaay too common.

But today is an exception. This is a true “2-fer”: a pair of cars, each hogging two parkin spaces in the Baldwin lot.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Not too bad, you say?

Look at it this way. If everyone parked like that, the lot would have exactly half the capacity it does now.

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It’s always important to give blood. Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 12, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., VFW, 465 Riverside Avenue) you can donate in honor of a Westporter.

The Charley with a Y Foundation is sponsoring the event. “Charley” was Marine LCPL Charles Rochlin. The 2003 Staples High School graduate spent 7 months in Iraq. He was on leave in Westport when he died in an automobile accident.

Click here for an appointment (use sponsor code VFWWestport), or call 1-800-733-2767.

LCPL Charley Rochlin

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Genevieve Bouchard — owner of Scout & Molly’s, the women’s clothing boutique in Playhouse Square — recently lost her mother, Chantal Haskew.

At her death, the frequent Westport visitor and talented artist was one of the longest living liver transplant patients in the US. She lived one-third of her life because in 1995 a stranger donated organs. Thanks to her liver, Chantal enjoyed the weddings of her 5 children, and the joys of her 8 grandchildren.

In honor of her mom — and all the organ donors out there — Scout & Molly’s is hosting a special shopping day. This Thursday (October 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), a portion of all sales will be donated to Donate Life America.

Transplant recipients will be there, telling stories of their second chances at life.

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A few tickets remain for this Friday’s (October 15, Fairfield Theater Company) “Evening of Motown” benefit for CLASP Homes.

Band Central — “music with a purpose” — will perform America’s favorite hits. Proceeds support CLASP’s work. The Westport non-profit supports adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities, through group homes and enrichment programs.

$40 tickets include a pre-party with lite bites. Art by CLASP residents will be on display. Click here to purchase.

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Congratulations to the Westport Soccer Association’s U-11 blue team. They played 4 games in one day, and won the Bethel Columbus Day tournament.

Top row (left to right): head coach Bardhl Limani, James Tansley, Luke Shiel, John Walker, Peter Shakos, Lochlann Treanor, Nicolas Barreto, assistant coach Jeffery Holl, Bottom: Mason Holl, Atticus Lavergne, Andrew Floto, Matthew Alfaro, Zylan Wang.

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Nearly every holiday, “06880” runs a photo of Jolantha the Pig. For 20 years, the figure has sat — visibly and beloved — on Weston’s Kellogg Hill Road.

Of course, there’s a great back story. To learn more, click below:

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It’s juniper berry season. Peter Gold captured this shot on Old Road, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” series.

(Photo/Peter Gold)

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And finally … in honor of junipers:

 

Hillspoint Road Bridge Honors Khaliq Sanda

In his short life, Khaliq Sanda made a large impression on Westport.

The A Better Chance of Westport scholar had a a magnetic personality, an insightful mind, a welcoming spirit and a heart of gold.

Khaliq took 10 AP classes. He tutored. He worked at Internal Medicine Associates. He volunteered with Key Club, and served on Student Assembly.  

He touched everyone he met.

After graduation in 2013, he headed to Duke University. He took pre-med courses. He wanted to be a psychiatrist.

Khaliq Sanda

In 2016, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It metastasized to his brain. He fought valiantly with 5 years — and had the help of countless Westport and Duke admirers.

His death last March devastated our town.

Khaliq won’t be forgotten. The Hillspoint Road bridge over I-95 will be named in his honor.

“Khaliq left an indelible mark on Westport, enriching our town with his kindness, humor and grace,” said State Senator Will Haskell. “Walking through the halls at Staples, it seemed that every student and teacher knew and admired him. In the wake of his passing, I had an opportunity to work with just a few of the many people who loved him to name this bridge in his honor. For those who pass by it each day, I hope it will remind us of his optimism and compassion, bringing out the best of Westport — a town Khaliq loved and a town that loved him.”

State Representative Jonathan Steinberg added, “Khaliq was an outstanding individual who had his future tragically cut short by cancer. During his time in Westport, he made a positive impact on our community. Khaliq was beloved by his peers and excelled in the classroom. He will be sorely missed. Naming a road in Khaliq’s honor will ensure his life and legacy will never be forgotten.”

First Selectman Jim Marpe noted, “He was a talented, deeply compassionate, energetic young man who had a passion for education, community service and a zest for life. It speaks volumes that Khaliq was so highly respected and possessed strong leadership qualities – these are his legacies. Now, he is further recognized with the honor of having this bridge named for him so that his kind heart and good works will be memorialized for generations to come.”

Roundup: Staples #1, Tyler Hicks, Young Authors, MoCA Show …

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“06880” does not post most “ranking” stories (Best Beach Towns in America, etc.). The criteria are random, the headlines are often clickbait, and — particularly with education — if, say, our school district is #1 one year and #2 the next, Westporters demand to know “What happened?!”

So this story is not about Niche’s ranking of Staples as the #1 school in Connecticut — for the 3rd year in a row.

Instead, it’s about the Channel 8 news report about that honor. Click here to learn more, from (very proud) principal Stafford Thomas.

Screenshot of Staples principal Stafford Thomas, on Channel 8’s “What’s Right With our Schools” feature.

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As the US withdraws from Afghanistan, the New York Times looks back on Tyler Hicks’ 2 decades of chronicling life and death in that faraway land.

The 1988 Staples High School graduate/Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer arrived there soon after the October 7, 2001 invasion — 20 years ago today. One of the first sights he saw was the execution of a Taliban fighter.

His most recent assignment, in July, was near Bagram Air Base — the same spot he saw that harrowing first scene.

Click here for today’s Times retrospective of Hicks’ haunting photos. (Hat tip: Gil Ghitelman)

In 2001, Northern Alliance fighters dragged a wounded Taliban fighter out of a ditch. They shot him dead. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for New York Times)

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When COVID put the kibosh on after-school activities, Jordan Razza created her own.

She arranged classes for her daughters Daisy and Ainsley, and 2 other Westport youngsters, with children’s book author Jacky LaMenzo.

She lives in Massachusetts, but no matter. This was COVID; classes were held via Zoom, on Tuesday evenings.

This was more than just “how-to.” LaMenzo emphasized “do it!”

Brainstorming ideas was key. Daisy — now a 7th grader at Coleytown Middle School — wanted to write about LGBTQ people.

Ainsley — a Coleytown Elementary 5th grader — loves alligators, crocodiles and frogs. She focused on an alligator who makes friends.

Both girls honed in on the theme of acceptance. Now, both are now published authors.

Daisy’s book is “My Colors.” It’s illustrated with her own digital art.

Ainsley wrote “Outcast.” Her drawings are freehand.

The books are available on Amazon. Part of the proceeds go to a literary charity.

The girls are interested in many things. Daisy does gymnastics, the school play and swimming. She’s also in CMS’ Pride Club. Ainsley enjoys synchronized swimming and art. Both continue to write.

The Razzas may not be Westport’s newest authors. But they definitely are our youngest!

(Click here for more information on Daisy’s book. Click here for Ainsley’s.)

The Razza sisters’ books.

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“When Caged Birds Sing” — a teaching exhibition created by Westport artist Ann Weiner — opens to the public on October 29. An opening reception is October 28 (6 to 8 p.m.).

The exhibit features 8 life-size sculptures representing women’s rights activists who suffered and survived abuse because of their gender, yet continue to advocate for the rights of others at risk.

Weiner’s work shines a spotlight on sex trafficking, kidnapping, transphobia, female genital mutilation, honor killings, domestic abuse, the conversion of kidnapped girls into sex slaves and killers by rebel armies, merciless Taliban law and transphobia.

Visitors are invited to write stories, experiences or feelings on pieces of paper that will then be folded into the origami shape of a bird and placed in a bird cage, for release later. A 45-minute documentary about the women featured in the exhibition will also be shown.

For more information, click here.

Part of MoCA’s “Caged Bird” exhibition.

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The Tailored Home is known for its custom furniture, window treatments, accessories, reupholstery, refinishing and design services. It’s a great place, and it knows its Fairfield County clientele.

But last night the Sconset Square store sponsored a funk band. It was something different, for sure.

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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For 10 years, Voices Cafe at the Westport Unitarian Church has featured great folk music. Peter Yarrow, Paul Winter and Suzanne Sheridan have performed there; Brother Sun chose it their final concert. Many events support social justice causes.

Voices Cafe begins its 2nd decade on Sunday, October 24 (7:30 p.m.). with double bill: Newtown-born Sawyer Fredericks (winner of The Voice’s season 8) and The Accidentals, a powerful female-led indie rock and punk folk band.

The concert will be both in-person at the church, and livestreamed. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Sawyer Fredericks

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Sorelle Gallery’s final exhibition of 2021 features abstract artist Ned Martin. Beginning Saturday (October 9). Light refreshments will be served in the Bedford Square spce.

Martin’s work includes birds, female portraiture, natural forest-scapes, and pure abstraction.

“Fragmented in Time” (Ned Martin)

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James Goodenough died peacefully at his Westport home on September 29, surrounded by Gloria, his wife of 73 years, and his 4 children. He was 95 years old.

He was born in New Haven to Dr. Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough, a professor at Yale University, and Helen Miriam Lewis. Jim  graduated from Yale University.

In 1954 Jim and Gloria moved to Westport. He worked at a specialized business magazine company, Cleworth Publishing, rising to publisher of several magazines, then vice president and treasurer.

Jim was a man of consummate integrity, wisdom and humbleness. He is survived by his wife Gloria; children Sandra, Janice, Andrew and Elizabeth; 6 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, and his brother John B. Goodenough, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year for his work on the lithium ion battery.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, October 17 (2 p.m., Saugatuck Congregational Church). Memorial donations are suggested to Saugatuck Church or Westminster School in Simsbury.

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In our never-ending quest to feature every living thing possible, “Westport … Naturally” today turns to termites.

Susan Garment writes: “I came across this swarm of termites in a tree on my yard. I called several exterminators and sent them this picture. They  became extremely excited, because they had never seen anything like it. They wanted to send the picture to the Connecticut Department of Entomology.

“We removed the tree. Fortunately,  none of the termites migrated to my house.”

(Photo/Susan Garment)

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And finally … the next MoCA exhibition — “When Caged Birds Sing” (see above) — reminded me of this seriously underrated Beatles song. Sure, there’s no connection between the tune and the Maya Angelou-inspired museum title, other than the bird theme. But I love this track:

Colin Konstanty’s Senior Moment: “Trevor”

Like most Staples High School students, Colin Konstanty looked forward to senior year. Homecoming, Staples Players productions, the Candlelight Concert — all would be cap his Westport educational career.

Then “Trevor” came calling.

So instead of driving up North Avenue, Colin spends 6 days a week on Metro-North. He’s in the ensemble of the off-Broadway musical.

Though its not easy giving up so much of senior year, the talented actor is pursuing his passion.

And chasing his dream.

As a young child in England, Colin played sports. (His brother AJ is a tight end on the Cornell University football team.)

Colin Konstanty (right) and his brother AJ, last June.

He kept playing after moving to Westport. But in 2nd grade at Greens Farms Elementary School, Colin also started piano lessons and singing. He joined School of Rock in Fairfield, and got hooked on performing.

He had a small part in Bedford Middle School’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Yet sports were still a major focus.

The summer before 8th grade, Colin’s parents encouraged him to do Bedford’s summer musical. The decision changed his life.

He joined an 8th grade acting class. He’s been performing — and honing his craft — ever since.

Colin Konstanty rehearses his George Bailey role, in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The show was one of Staples Players’ radio productions, during COVID last year.

Colin loves “the energizing feeling of being on stage, in front of an audience.” He also enjoys the process of “putting up a play or musical, working together as a team with the cast and crew.”

As an actor, he appreciates the process of “finding a character, and doing my research and work to be as truthful and specific as I can.

“I love being in the moment, leaving myself alone, feeling as though I’m open, and connecting with another actor, the material, or even the audience on a level I maybe hadn’t before.”

He tried for professional work. In March 2020, just before COVID shut down theaters, he auditioned for “Trevor: The Musical.”

Last month — as the industry took steps to reopen — the creative team asked Colin to go straight to callbacks. The next day, he learned he was cast.

Colin Konstanty

“Being a part of the reopening of theater in New York is pretty amazing,” he says. “But to be working on a show that covers such important issues faced by young teens — especially LGBTQ+ teenagers — makes it all the more special.”

Though Colin now attends Staples only on Mondays — he and fellow actors are tutored the rest of the days — his teachers and administrators have been very supportive. So are his friends.

“I’m doing what I love, professionally, with an amazing creative team,” Colin says. “And I’m working with a phenomenally talented cast that is mostly kids my age.”

Colin is learning what it takes to be part of a large-scale production — especially one that creates an “inclusive, encouraging, uplifting environment.” He’s also learned to be a team player, and flexible.

But an actor’s life is precarious. Colin hopes to continue in the industry — either onstage, or as a writer, director or producer.

Right now — like many Staples seniors — Colin is applying to college. He hopes to study acting, producing and the entertainment business there.

That’s all in the future, of course. Right now, Colin Konstanty is focused on one thing: making “Trevor” the best show possible.

Performances begin October 25, at Stage 42.

(Click here for tickets, and more information.)

Roundup: Pushups, Steffi Friedman, Roses …

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There was a lot going on this beautiful weekend.

A beautiful sight was Staples High School’s Jinny Parker Field, where hundreds of Westporters of all ages banged out pushups for a great cause.

The 12th annual Push Against Cancer is a fundraiser for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp — the wonderful respite for kids battling life-threatening diseases. It was developed by Westport’s beloved Paul Newman.

Participants solicited pledges, in return for pushups. The top 2 teams were Staples girls soccer ($24,178) and Staples boys soccer ($23.311).

It costs $2,500 to send one youngster to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for a week. Those 2 soccer programs alone will send 18 children there.

Add in the $140,000-plus raised by everyone else, and that’s nearly 80 boys and girls. Well done, Westport!

The Staples High School girls soccer team at the Push Against Cancer … (Photo/Charlotte Strandell)

… and the boys.

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On Saturday, friends and family of Steffi Friedman honored the Westport artist who died 2 years ago at 94, and dedicated a new work.

Her bronze “Pas de Deux” (2002) is now part of the Westport Public Art Collections. Installed for years on her Yankee Hill Road lawn, it now sits proudly in the Staples High School courtyard. The work was donated by her family, in gratitude of Westport’s cultural legacy, and Staples’ commitment to the arts.

The event was organized by Steffi’s daughter Margie — a 1972 Staples graduate — and town arts curator Kathie Bennewitz.

Performances include poetry from town poet laureate Diane Meyer Lowman, and dance by Staples alum Grace Bergonzi.

Friends and family admire Steffi Friedman’s sculpture. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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The River of Roses is one of Westport’s best fundraisers.

It’s probably the most colorful too.

The Survive-OAR program provides mental, physical and emotional healing after traditional treatment ends. It’s an empowering, supportive community for women to heal.

During next Sunday’s celebration (October 10, 4 p.m.) — honoring the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s Survive-OARS crew, plus anyone who has battling breast cancer (or is now) — names are read aloud, as rose petals are scattered into the Saugatuck River at high tide. They’re then swept out to sea.

Survive-OAR’s Kimberly Wilson will sing. There’s live music by Fake ID, plus Copp’s Island Oysters, a raw bar from Pagano’s Seafood, drinks, Chef Jason’s clam chowder and lobster bisque, and Donut Crazy treats.

Click here for tickets, donations, positivity bracelets and more. Questions? Email president and head coach Diana Kuen: diana@survive-OARS.org.

PS: Throughout October, new members can buy a one-month membership to the Saugatuck Rowing Club. 100% of the dues goes toward Survive-OARS.

Strewing rose petals, in 2019.

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Yesterday’s Roundup gave an incorrect date for Westport Pride’s Zoom presentation: “When did you know?” (As in: When did you know you were LGBT?).

It’s tomorrow (Tuesday, October 5, 7 p.m.). Panelists include

  • John Dodig, former Staples High School principal
  • Zac Mathias, Weston High School senior and media influencer
  • Samantha Webster, Staples High graduate and former Staples Player
  • Luke Foreman, Staples grad and varsity tennis captain
  • Jen DeLoyd and Bethany Eppner, Westport parents
  • Kayla Iannetta, Staples teacher and founder of the Westport Public Schools’ Pride Coalition
  • Brian McGunagle, Westport parent and founder of Westport Pride.

Click here for the Zoom link.

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Westporter Lisa Seidenberg had a letter published in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review.

It was a response to a review by Simon Winchester that mentioned the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair, and how General Motors drove many Americans into debt with the purchase of automobiles. That was a huge expense, in the post-Depression years.

Seidenberg knows the subject well. Her 2010 documentary on the Fair — “I Have Seen the Future” — premiered in Westport, before screenings at film festivals nationwide. It included commentary by the late Westport futurist Watts Wacker.

General Motors’ Futurama, at the 1939 World’s Fair.

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MoCA Westport has announced its fall music series. It includes:

  • Marielle Kraft (pop): Friday, October 8
  • The Figgs (rock): Friday, October 15
  • Priscilla Navarro (classical): Saturday, November 20
  • The Mark O’Connor Duo (violin/fiddle/bluegrass): Thursday, December 9.

Shows begin at 7 p.m. Click here for details and tickets.

The Figgs

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Congratulations to the Longshore Ladies 9 Holers. Their annual charity golf event at Longshore raised an enormous amount of food donations for the Westport Woman’s Club food closet, plus $1,175 in cash.

Longshore ladies who golf — and raise money for good causes. From left: M.J. Fusaro, Eileen Hart, Mandy Germishuys, Julie Gray.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is sweet!

Here’s a honeybee enjoying a dahlia:

(Photo/Nancy Diamond)

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And finally … I had never heard of the Figgs — the band that’s headlining at MoCA Westport next week.

Then again, there are lots of bands I’ve never heard of.

Now here they are:

Natalie Bandura: State Board Of Ed’s Youngest Member

Natalie Bandura — the daughter of Russian immigrants — entered kindergarten in Norwalk without knowing a word of English.

She learned quickly. Her parents moved to Westport, and as a Staples High School freshman she tutored Spanish-speaking elementary students in her former town. Last year, during COVID, she founded the Little Learners Club, a virtual project with another Norwalk elementary school.

Now Natalie advocates for students like those — and her Staples peers — all over the state. She is one of 2 high school members of the Connecticut Board of Education.

And although she and counterpart Rishabh Bandari of Wilton do not vote, they have voices. Their charge is to represent the perspectives of students, and show how educational decisions made by adults will impact youngsters.

Natalie Bandura in Hartford.

It’s an important role. But it’s not the only one Natalie has undertaken. The Staples senior is a member of the National Honor Society and Latin Honor Society, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper Inklings, math team captain, Link Crew mentor, creator of Masks That Matter and Top Hat tutor.

In her spare time, she is a Latin ballroom dancing competitor.

But the state Board of Education post is pretty cool. Natalie admits that when she first heard of the opportunity from assistant principal Chase Dunlap, she thought it was for the Westport Board of Ed.

She soon realized it was orders of magnitude larger. The application process included a personal statement. Natalie wrote about the discrepancies between the opportunities afforded students she knew through her Norwalk tutoring, and those she’d worked with at a Greenwich STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) camp.

She said she was used to working with schools and administrators, and mentioned another experience: attending the Youth Leader Summit last summer. (It’s usually in Singapore; because of COVID, this one was virtual.)

Natalie had 2 rounds of interviews, and another with an aide to Governor Lamont. She had a chance to meet the governor later — along with US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (a former Connecticut Commissioner of Education), and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.

Her first Board of Education meeting this month was a heady experience. She had an ID badge and a parking spot; in front of her seat was a microphone.

Natalie and Rishabh took the initiative to introduce themselves to other members, and ask about their backgrounds and goals.

Once the meeting began, Natalie spoke up about COVID contact tracing. She noted that although it works in classrooms, it breaks down in school cafeterias. She also jumped into a discussion about school funding and the learning gap, and diversity issues.

Other members thanked the two student representatives for their insights. “They want us to be vocal,” Natalie notes.

She knows the importance of using her voice to represent all Connecticut students. She knows too that Staples High School is different from most schools. She feels fortunate that living in Norwalk, and tutoring there, has given her different perspectives.

As a kindergartner who did not speak English, Natalie could never have imagined sitting on a statewide body.

But now that she’s there, the youngest member of the state Board of Education says, she’s eager to talk.

And act.

Dancing In The Dark

Forget Snapchat and TikTok. Go away, SAT tutors. No need to worry about COVID or climate change.

Last night, dozens of Staples High School students enjoyed a good old-fashioned dance-a-thon.

The dance-a-thon begins.

The back-to-the-’50s kids were Staples Players. From 8 p.m. till midnight, they filled the main courtyard for a fundraiser. Actors and tech crew solicited pledges, for each hour they danced.

And this was real dancing. No grinding allowed.

Highlights included the male ensemble performing “Greased Lightning” — twice. The DJ loved it so much, he wants tickets to the next show.

Which is, of course, “Grease.”

After 18 months away from a full mainstage production, Players enjoyed getting together to dance. They also hoped to raise $40,000, to cover the cost of sets, costumes and much more. With canceled shows — and limited audiences looming due to the Delta variant — the dance-a-thon was crucial. (Donations are still being accepted; click here.)

Show dates are November 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., and November 14 and 20 at 3 p.m. Tickets go on sale October 23 at www.StaplesPlayers.com. For more details, follow Players on Facebook and Instagram.

(All photos/Kerry Long)

 

Roundup: Pink Aid, Bagels, Pickleball …

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Like many charities, Pink Aid CT has pivoted this year to a virtual event.

They’re calling it “virtuous.” Hundreds of items –will be auctioned off starting Tuesday (October 5, 9 a.m.). Among them:

  • A flight on Marc Lasry’s private jet to sit courtside and watch the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks
  • Private safari for 2 in Tanzania
  • VIP seating at Christian Siriano’s fall 2022 show, with backstage passes.

All funds raised benefit women with breast cancer in underserved communities.

A video about the event features the auction’s host, Westporter and “A Million Little Things” star Stephanie Szostak.

For auction tickets and more, click here.

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Adam Goldberg’s pop-up bagel project at the Manna Hub kitchen has grown into a full-time operation. It’s packed on weekends, and a full-time store opens soon in Georgetown.

Now he’s going even bigger time. Adam was the only out-of-state vendor invited to compete at this weekend’s Brooklyn Bagelfest.

Can a little Westport bagel guy beat the big boys at their own game? Fingers crossed. Stay tuned!

Behind the scenes in the Don Memo kitchen. From left: Rachel Golan,.David Levinson
Jason Epstein, Adam Goldberg. (Photo/Ria Rueda)

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Leonard Everett Fisher is a Westport icon. He’s a World War II veteran, a civic volunteer — and, for over 70 years, a nationally enowned illustrator, painter and designer.

He’s being honored through the end of the year by the Westport Library. An exhibit of his work — “A Life of Art” — is open at the Sheffer and South Galleries.

Fisher has written and illustrated hundreds of children’s books, and created over 700 paintings and 6000 scratch boards. The Library show features many original illustrations and acrylic paintings. 

It’s an exhibit not to be missed. Before you go, click here (then scroll down) for a virtual studio tour of this remarkable man.

Leonard Everett Fisher at Westport’s 2016 Memorial Day ceremonies.

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The agenda for Wednesday’s Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (7:30 p.m., Zoom) includes a discussion of possible pickleball sites.

The meeting ID is 879 8059 1192. The passcode is 480909.

The Compo Beach pickleball courts get plenty of use.

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Two great Nash’s Corner businesses are offering 20% off deals for new customers. You can combine them, or just take advantage of one.

Felicia’s Salon Nash — run by the wonderful Felicia Catale — provides cuts for women, men, girls and boys. with blowouts and coloring too. Call 203-747-9753 and 203-349-5814.

For 20% off 3D synthetic mink eyelashes — usually $180, now $144 — at Nash’s Lashes by Judy, call 203- 557-8964,

Felicia Catale

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On October 1, 1961 — 60 years ago yesterday — Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.

A young Westporter named Robert Mull was there. It was the first Major League game he ever saw. His father captured all of Maris’ at-bats that day — including the shot off Tracy Stallard, his hat tip and more.

Now Mull has posted the video online. Click here to see. (Speaking of hat tips: thanks, Fred Cantor!)

Screenshot from the Roger Maris video.

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The other day, Chris Grimm was scrolling through a site that sells t-shirts of defunct Connecticut businesses. (I didn’t ask for details.) He found this classic for Arnie’s Place, the video game arcade that is now Ulta:

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Next up for the Westport Astronomical Society: NASA astrophysicist Scott Guzewich discusses “Roving Mars with Curiosity and Perseverance.”

It’s a clever title, and is sure to be out of this world. Click on the October 19 (8 p.m.) links: Zoom and YouTube livestream.

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The National Charity League’s Westport chapter invites 6th grade girls to apply for the 2022-23 year. NCL With over 275 members, the local group provides volunteer service for over 30 community organizations. Members are women and their daughters in grades 7-12.

The 6-year core program includes leadership development and cultural activities. For more information click here, or email lisa22607@gmail.com.

The National Charity League gang takes a break from volunteer work.

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The good news: Rebecca Schussheim, Lucia Wang and Tom Zhang  will represent Staples High School at the 8th annual Normandy International Youth Leadership Summit next month.. They were chosen because of their academic performance and interest in world affairs.

The bad news: This year’s event is virtual, so they don’t get to go to France.

But congratulations anyway, on a great achievement!

(From left): Rebecca Schussheim,Lucia Wang, Tom Zhang.

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Samera Nasereddin describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“Two baby raccoons visited our garden, and delighted my cat and me. They were very curious, unafraid and non-aggressive. We sent a photo to a local expert, who told us they were healthy 3-4-month-olds, learning how to fend for themselves. I’m so grateful for their sweet visit. I hope that they continue to be safe and healthy, wherever they are now.”

(Photo/Samera Nasereddin)

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And finally … It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of Roger Maris. But seeing his name — and the video of his 61st home run — made me think of other famous players.

And of course: