Category Archives: Staples HS

John Starks Sparks Staples Ballers

John Starks retired from the NBA in 2002. That’s several years before even the oldest current Staples High School basketball player was born.

But every fan knows of the former New York Knick’s legendary dunk — against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, no less — in the 1993 Eastern Conference finals.

So it was quite an event this past week, when Starks spent an afternoon with the Wreckers’ boys basketball team.

Starks — who still tops the Knicks’ list of 3-point scorers — came to Westport through Brett Tessler.

A 2008 Staples graduate, he did not play varsity basketball. Tessler spent a couple of years at the IMG Academy in Florida, then played at Union College. He’s now the Knicks’ director of fan engagement and youth programs.

Tessler is again a Westport resident. When he learned of the exciting season the Wreckers are having he reached out to head coach Dave Goldshore, and offered to help.

Starks spoke to the varsity, junior varsity and freshman squads. He described his route from college taxi squad to the pros; the life of an NBA player, and what it’s like to be a blue-collar, undersized guard defending against Michael Jordan.

(A Staples player asked about his second-toughest opponent. The answer: Clyde Drexler.)

John Starks talks with Staples basketball players.

Starks also answered questions about Knick coach Pat Riley’s practices, his closest friend on the team (Patrick Ewing), and more.

Life was not always easy. Once — in the 1994 NBA finals against Houston — he connected just twice, on 18 shots. He talked about that too, and how he handled nights like those.

The Staples boys basketball team is having one of their best seasons ever. They’re talented, tough and tight. Westporters pack the bleachers, drawn by their skill and spirit.

They’re legitimate contenders for an FCIAC — even a state — championship.

Of course, it’s far from a slam dunk.

But the man who made one of the most famous dunks in history just gave them a big shot.

John Starks (center) with Staples varsity, junior varsity and freshman players. Head coach Dave Goldshore is standing, 2nd from left.

Roundup: S&S Dugout, Warming Stations, Miami Dolphins …

It’s a few yards over the Westport line in Southport. Most folks don’t give it a second glance.

But the S&S Dugout — a scruffy diner on the right side of the Post Road — has been a favorite go-to, for no-nonsense food, for many regulars since 1950.

No more. No more roast beef, hot sausage, home fries, omelets, burgers, dogs, shakes, or bacon egg and cheeses. It wasn’t healthy, but it was good.

The door to the old place is now closed. A “For Lease” sign hangs in the window. Let the memories begin.

Here’s mine: One day when I was a student at Staples High School, and “Ed’s Dugout” was (my friends and I thought) a secret hangout, we walked in and saw Haystacks Calhoun.

The wrestler was 6-4. He weighed over 600 pounds.

And — to our awe — he took up 2 stools. Plus all the space in between.

RIP, the Dugout. You were one of a kind.

S&S Dugout in Southport.

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Baby, it’s (gonna be) cold outside.

Below-zero wind chills are forecast through tomorrow morning. (It warms up quickly after that.)

Westport will open these warming centers today:

  • Senior Center (until 4:30 p.m. today)
  • Library (until 6 p.m.).
  • Westport Museum for History & Culture (Until 5 p.m.).
  • Westport Weston Family YMCA (until 6 p.m.). 
  • MoCA (until 4 p.m.).

Westport residents facing hardships due to the cold weather should contact Human Services (203-341-1050, until 4:30 p.m.).

PS: It’s a good idea to keep your faucets dripping tonight, to prevent frozen pipes. See below for tips:

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When the temperature rises on Sunday, residents are invited to the next trash pick-upu.

It’s 11 a.m. (February 5), at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Volunteers should bring gloves, garbage bags and boots — and dress warmly.

Questions? Email acolabellartm4@gmail.com.

A recent trash pick-up on Greens Farms Road. This Sunday, the site is the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

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The Miami Dolphins are not playing in this year’s Super Bowl.

But in 1972, they did something the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles can never match (at least this season): go undefeated all year.

This Thursday (February 9, 7 p.m., Westport Library) longtime ESPN reporter/”E:60″ host/1988 Staples High School graduate/current Westporter hosts a screening of his new film, “The Perfect Machine.”

The documentary includes interviews with 16 members of that history-making team, including Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, Larry Little, Bob Griese and Joe Namath.

Afterward, the 11-time Emmy Award winner will answer questions.

Jeremy Schaap

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Also ahead at the Library:

  • The “State of the Town” meeting, with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein this Sunday (February 5, 2 p.m.; Trefz Forum and livestream).
  • “Energy Rates”: State Senator Ceci Maher, and State Representatives Jonathan Steinberg and Anne Hughes, host a meeting about rising energy prices (Monday, February 6, 7 p.m., Trefz Forum).

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein, at last year’s “State of the Town” meeting.

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For 14 years, Earth Animal — the great Post Road store for our 4-legged friends — has supported those of us in need, with only 2.

Their holiday “Mitten Project” raises funds to address food insecurity. For $5, customers buy “mittens,” which they sign to be hung in the shop windows. Holiday items and donation boxes add to the haul.

And Earth Animal matches every penny donated.

Last year’s fundraising was impressive: $38,000.

This year’s was spectacular. Yesterday, Earth Animal owners and employees presented a check for $53,000 to CT Foodshare.

That funds an astonishing 106,000 meals. Thank you, Earth Animal — and all who helped! (Hat tip: Betsy Pollak)

Earth Animal and CT Foodshare officials, at yesterday’s ceremony.

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Ten Staples High School student-athletes have signed letters of intent to play NCAA Division I sports.

The list includes:

  • Tyler Clark (lacrosse; United States Military Academy)
  • Mia Guster (swimming and diving; Lafayette College)
  • Parker Lenoce (swimming and diving; Princeton University)
  • Emma Nahon (field hockey; University of Pennsylvania)
  • Leo Sequenzia (lacrosse; Providence College)
  • Francine Stevens (track and field; Cornell University)
  • Riley Twiss (swimming and diving; Bucknell University)
  • Kate Whitaker (swimming and diving; Lehigh University)
  • Hiro Wyatt (baseball; University of Southern California)
  • Chris Zajac (baseball; Indiana University).

A special signing ceremony was held Wednesday, at Staples. Click here to see.

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Bingo is back!

The Westport Young Woman’s League’s “Galentine’s Day” fundraiser returns, for the first time since pre-COVID 2019.

The event is set for February 9 (7 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church). The evening includes prizes and treats. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Proceeds benefit WYWL grants programs. After the previous Galentine’s Day Bing, the organization distributed $80,000 to 18 area charities. Click here for the list.

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The Greens Farms Garden Club is a new beneficiary of Stop & Shop’s Community Bag Program.

Throughout February, whenever a $2.50 reusable Community Bag is purchased at the Westport supermarket, $1 will be donated to the club.

Funds will go to projects like the Atrium at Earthplace, Growing For Good vegetable gardens at  Wakeman Town Farm, and Prospect Gardens.

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Longtime Westporter, former RTM member and civic volunteer Peter Nathan died on Saturday. He was 89.

After graduating from the University of Connecticut, Peter served as a captain in the Marine Corps.

He spent his business career of nearly 60 years in the exhibition, conference and event industry. He and his company, Clapp & Poliak, are credited with organizing the first US events in the former Soviet Union and China.

After his company was acquired by Reed Exhibitions, he became the senior staff member at the Javits Convention Center. In 1996 he formed his own firm, PWN Exhibicon, and produced the only 2 exhibitions sanctioned by the American government in Cuba.

Peter helped transform a primarily domestic exhibition industry into a global one. He served on every major board and commission, and received numerous awards. He was a frequent guest speaker at conferences. Videos of him are on display at the Washington Convention Center and McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago.

He was elected 4 times as a member of the Westport Representative Town Meeting. He also served as an officer and club chairman of the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston; a governor-appointed member of the Connecticut Judicial Review Council, and an advisory member of the Mid-Fairfield County Child Guidance Center and Domestic Violence Crisis Center.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Lois (Sandy) Nathan; children Tamara, Corynne, Mark and Leslie, and their spouses Gary, Dina and Bryan; 9 grandchildren and their spouses, and 1 great grandchild.

A date for a celebration of life will be forthcoming. Contributions can be made to the Westport Library, Senior Center or Westport Country Playhouse.

Peter Nathan

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The other day, Deanna Forman sat in her car at Staples High School, waiting for her daughter to finish Players rehearsal. The “face” on this tree caught her eye — and made her think of our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Deanna Forman)

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And finally … in honor of tonight’s weather:

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(On the coldest day of the year, please warm the “06880” coffers with a contribution. Just click here — and thank you!).

 

Roundup: Lyman Aid; Food, Drink …

Nearly every day, life-saving supplies are delivered to Lyman.

The latest shipment to our sister city in Ukraine: room furnaces.

Room heater in Lyman. (Photo/LIz Olegov)

They are sorely needed. Much of the town is without heat, following 5 months of Russian occupation.

“They heat rooms so quickly, they are run only a couple of hours a day,” reports Liz Olegov, of Westport’s on-the-ground partners Ukraine Aid International and Alex 21.

That’s great news. Electricity is still spotty in Lyman.

The heaters are part of the $252,000 Westport raised for our new sister city.

Officials there have plenty to do. When the Russians fled, they left chaos and carnage behind.

But leaders took time out to thank Westport, and our leaders.

This proclamation to 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker is on its way to Town Hall:

The next phase of our sister city partnership will involve students. Groups at Staples High School, and Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools, are preparing projects involving Lyman students.

Other opportunities for Westporters will be announced soon.

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After sold-out performances in January, Play With Your Food returns February 14-16.

Audiences will be treated to star power. Theater, film and TV actors Patricia Kalember and Daniel Gerroll take on Tom Stoppard as they perform a scene from his Tony Award-winning masterpiece, “The Real Thing.”

Also on the menu: Tony Award winner John Patrick Shanley’s “The Red Coat” and Craig Pospisil’s “Dissonance.” In honor of Valentine’s Week, the 3 plays tackle the complexities of love new, old and somewhere in the middle.

Tickets are nearly sold out for the February 14 performance at MoCA Westport, but are available for February 15 (Pequot Library, Southport) and 16 (Greenwich Art Council). All begin at noon, and are followed by a talkback with the cast and director. Audiences can stay for fresh boxed lunches.

Tickets are $60 each. For more information and tickets, click here or call 203-293-8729.

Daniel Gerroll and Patricia Kalember.

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Westport Police arrested and detained 4 people, between January 25 and February 1.

One was charged with conspiracy to commit larceny, identity theft and forgery.

One was charged with conspiracy to commit larceny, and interfering with an officer/resisting.

One was charged with third degree larceny.

One was charged with failure to appear.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Failure to obey control signal: 4
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 2
  • Speeding: 2
  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 2
  • Cell phone, first offense: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 1
  • Misuse of plates: 1

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA is seeking candidates for 2 junior board of director positions.

Junior board directors enjoy full voting rights and participate actively in the governance process. They have the chance to share ideas, learn from older directors who provide insight and perspective into non-profit management, and become aligned with the Y’s mission to strengthen community.

Candidates must be rising high school juniors with a minimum 3.5 GPA (unweighted), active Westport Y members, able to attend monthly board meetings, and commit to a 2-year term, starting this June.

Current junior board members Ava DeDomenico and Riley Twiss will graduate this year from Staples High School.  Ava has been involved with the gymnastics program, while Riley is a competitive swimmer on the WRAT team.

Click here for the application. The deadline is February 27.

Riley Twiss and Eva DeDomenico.

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The Denver Broncos are not in the Super Bowl.

But because Walrus Alley does not have a cocktail named for a Chief or Eagle, they’re offering this recipe for one their most-loved drinks: The White Bronco.

Owners Joseph and Angela Farrell suggest it for your Super Bowl party (which they could also cater). The recipe below creates 20 drinks.

  • 1 L  your favorite silver tequila
  • 375mL Chinola passionfruit liquor
  • 500mL fresh lime juice
  • 250mL  rresh orange juice
  • 100mL agave
  • 50mL Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub

Combine all ingredients.  Shake and serve 4 ounces onto rocks, garnishing with a lime wheel.

White Bronco

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Yesterday’s snow dusting left this stark “Westport … Naturally” scene at Sherwood Island State Park.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

It’s a good thing photographer Claudia Sherwood Servidio got there when she did.

The snow did not last long.

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And finally … Happy Groundhog Day!

(It’s an “06880” tradition: Readers celebrate Groundhog Day by clicking here to support this blog. Well, if it’s not, it should be a tradtion!)

 

Roundup: Tyre Nichols, Ruegg Grants, Michael Franti …

The Tyre Nichols story is national news.

Despite Hearst Connecticut Media’s story yesterday, there is not a Westport connection.

A Connecticut Post story headlined “Advocates call for policing reforms, as Lamont questions whether Tyre Nichols incident could happen in CT” quoted Scot Esdaile, president of Connecticut’s NAACP chapter, as saying, “It’s not only happening in Memphis, we’ve seen it in New Haven, we’ve seen it in Westport, we’ve seen it in Hartford, we’ve seen it in Bridgeport.”

However, the link associated with “Westport” referred to a case from 2011 — in Westport, Massachusetts.

A statement from the Westport (Connecticut) Police Department says: “Understandably, (we) were disappointed by this article because we feel we have worked hard to build relationships and have never had any incident that resembles what we saw in Memphis.”

Hearst Media deleted the Westport link.

Esdaile apologized to Chief Foti Koskinas, the Westport Police Department and the town of Westport. He said that he meant to reference West Haven.

Esdaile added, “I have had a conversation with the chief along with Harold Bailey, the chairman of the Westport Civilian Review Panel, and we had a wonderful and energetic conversation. I apologized during the call several times, and we are looking forward to working together in the future.”

Koskinas called his conversation with Esdaile “productive, and brought about a positive resolution.”

 

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If you’re a local non-profit organization, the Westport Woman’s Club wants to give you money.

Ruegg Grants provide up to $10,000 for a 2023 project. Proposals should be “high-profile initiatives that make a meaningful difference in the Westport community.

The grants — established in 1995 by an endowment from former WWC member Lea Ruegg — go to projects that enhance social services, health, safety, the arts or education. Recent beneficiaries include the Westport Astronomical Society, Project Return, Earthplace and Wakeman Town Farm.

Click here for the grant application. The deadline is February 28.

The Westport Woman’s Club opens its doors to grant applications.

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The first big ticketed event of the Levitt Pavilion has been announced.

Michael Franti & Spearhead‘s “Big Big Love Tour” kicks off the Stars on Tour Series on Saturday, June 24 (7 p.m.). Phillip Phillips is the opening act.

Franti is a globally recognized musician, activist, hotel owner (Soulshine Bali) and award-winning filmmaker revered for his high-energy live shows, inspiring music, devotion to health and wellness, worldwide philanthropic efforts and the power of optimism.

His hits include “Sound of Sunshine,” “Say Hey (I Love You)” and “I Got You.” Spearhead’s 12th studio album, “Follow Your Heart,” debuted last June at #2, behind Harry Styles.

Levitt Pavilion members can purchase tickets now. The public ticket sale begins Friday (February 3, 10 a.m.). Click here for details.

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Here in Westport, we take garbage trucks for granted.

In Lyman, Ukraine they are game-changers.

A small part of the $252,000 donated by Westporters recently went to the purchase of 1 large and 1 small used trash trucks.

They’re vital to the reconstruction of our new sister city. When the Russians fled last fall, after 5 months of occupation and carnage, they took or destroyed all the vehicles. Refuse from the occupation — including bombed-out buildings and schools — has piled up ever since.

Katya Wauchope created this video, with footage supplied by Westport’s on-the-ground partners, Ukraine Aid International and Alex 21:

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Last August, “06880” highlighted Aiden Schachter. The rising Staples High School junior started a business — creating and selling LED light clouds — that has taken off nationally.

That’s impressive — and time-consuming. But it’s not all Aiden does. He is also a varsity wrestler.

And a pilot: He soloed on his 16th birthday. Next month, he hopes to get his full license.

Westport is justifiably proud of Aiden. Now the whole state can be.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) just posted a video starring Aiden. Check it out (below): The story of this athlete/cloud-making entrepreneur/pilot is truly uplifting.

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After several years, the Greens Farms train station waiting room has reopened.

That’s good news for commuters during this winter — even if they have not yet needed to take refuge from bitter cold.

It’s open from 5:30 to 10 a.m. No coffee vendor yet — but that is on the front burner.

The Greens Farms train station waiting room is open again.

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Getting into and out of the Westport Book Shop just got easier.

A handrail — often requested by patrons — was just installed on the steps to the Jesup Road used book store.

Now there’s one more reason — besides helping fund the Westport Library, and keep people with disabilities employed — to stop in and browse.

Surrounding the Westport Book Shop handrail (from left): Evan Payne, cc-manager Katherine Caro, Lia Walker, Lori Wenke. (Photo/Tom Lowrie)

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Coming up at Earthplace:

Family Campfire (February 11, 1:30 to 3 p.m.; $30 member families, $40 non-member families): Learn about animal tracks while roasting marshmallows next to a crackling fire; meet an “animal ambassador,” and participate in a guided activity. Click here to register.

February Break Camp (February 20-24, 27; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., $100/day; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $150/day; ages 3-12): Spend winter school break outside with nature; animal encounters, and self-chosen activities. Themes change daily. Click here to register.

Maple Sugaring Magic (March 5, $20 per family; 1:30-2:30 and 3-4 p.m.): Take part in a New England tradition. Learn how to identify maple trees on a trail walk, tap a tree and collect sap, and make maple syrup at home. Finish with tasting fresh maple sap, syrups and other maple goodies around the campfire. Click here to register.

Books & Beverages (March 15, 7 to 8 p.m.; free):  Participate in a casual discussion about “A Sand Country Almanac,” with naturalist Becky Newman. BYOB and snacks. Weather permitting, it’s outside. Click here to register.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows what — even in mid-winter — is always one of our town’s most beautiful spots.

(Photo/Michelle Harmon)

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And finally … Barrett Strong, Barrett Strong, whose 1959 hit “Money (That’s What I Want),” helped launch Motown Records, and who later co-wrote “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Ball of Confusion” and “War,” died on Sunday. He was 81. Click here for a full obituary.

(It would be tempting to follow up the item above with a crass plea for donations to “06880,” but I won’t do that. I’ll just say: Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Sam Paris: International Synchronized Skating Star

Balance is crucial in synchronized skating.

With 16 people performing challenging formations and step sequences, it’s vital to be aware of everything going on all around you, and always be in control.

Sam Paris knows a lot about balance — on the ice, and off.

The Staples High School senior just returned from an international competition in Switzerland. Coming up: competitions in Italy and the US.

Sam Paris, representing the US.

With practices in Stamford Monday through Thursday beginning at 5:30 a.m. — you read that right — plus 16 hours on the ice Friday through Sunday — that doesn’t leave a lot of time for schoolwork.

Yet Sam gets it done (in classes like Engineering and Applied Physics, and Anatomy and Physiology). And — somehow — she finds time to compete in the Sikorsky STEM Challenge for aspiring engineers. And work with 4 or 5 students a week, as a Top Hat tutor.

Sam makes it all seem as easy as gliding along the ice. Yet as anyone who has ever laced up skates knows, there are many ways to fall.

From her first lessons at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford, Sam has enjoyed skating. She fell in love with the demands and satisfactions of the synchronized sport,  and at 12 joined the Skyliners juvenile team. Based in New York, they’re one of the top clubs in the country.

Sam worked on her skills: basic skating, and more difficult crossovers and turns. She learned to bring her foot over her head while moving.

Sam Paris and the Skyliners, in action.

In 2018 she qualified for the national tournament, in Portland, Oregon. She thought she was on her way to big things.

But the next year she did not make the intermediate team. “I started late,” she says — age 10 — “and was playing catch-up.”

She did individual training to improve. In 2020 she qualified for nationals, and placed 5th.

The next year she made the novice squad, but COVID prevented training. In ’22, on the novice team, she finished second at nationals in Colorado.

By then her dream to represent the US internationally seemed audacious, but reachable. She continued to practice and train hard.

Yet after  tryouts for the junior team, she got a rejection letter — “just like from college,” she says.

“I’d given it everything. I curled into a cocoon, and let myself be sad.”

Then the Skyliners’ senior coach called. He liked her fight, and asked if she wanted to take a chance at the adult level.

Last spring, she got a “trainer” spot on the squad. By the beginning of August, she was on the roster. Sam is one of only two high school students on the senior team. All the others are in college — or older.

Skyliners’ synchronized skating squad. Sam Paris is in the front row, 3rd from right.

“I love the flow of the sport. It’s so creative,” she says.

She loves her team too. “We all push each other. We all feel the same pressure. We really understand each other. There’s so much collaboration: 16 people, all working together to succeed.”

So those 4:45 wake-ups for 5:30 practices at Chelsea Piers, and long weekends on the ice, don’t faze her.

Remember: It’s all about balance.

“I’ve learned to budget my time,” she explains. “I know how to decompress and relax.”

All those hours paid off. The Skyliners finished third earlier this month in Neuchâtel, Switzerland — Sam’s first international event. She looks forward to Milan on February 14, followed by nationals in Peoria, and the world championships at Lake Placid in April.

Her friends and teachers appreciate all she does. They are learning about the sport — “it’s a niche discipline,” Sam admits — and teachers understand her commitments.

Representing her country is wonderful. But you can’t make a living as a synchronized skater.

As Sam looks at colleges, she hopes to continue competing. Those teams perform at a lower level than the Skyliners. But she’ll miss a lot less school.

Though — knowing Sam Paris — she may still be balancing many activities.

Roundup: Lisa Newman, Jaden Waldman, Teens And COVID …

Representative Town Meeting District 8 will be looking for a new member soon.

Lisa Newman resigned yesterday. In a letter to colleagues, she wrote:

“This was not an easy decision, as I love serving the town with you, but it’s the right move at this time.

“As many of you know, I went back to school last year to pursue my law degree. I’ve loved being on this new path so far, but it has taken a lot of time and attention. Over the last few months, I’ve realized I need to preserve as much of my time as I can for my children – something that would be impossible to do once we enter budget season. And it’s not fair to my district or the RTM for me to hold a seat that I cannot fully commit to (plus those who know me know I can’t do anything half way!).

“So as much as I’m going to miss those late, late nights in the auditorium with all of you (haha – but will I?? 🙃), I realize the right thing to do — for my family and the seat -0 is to resign. I’m hopeful that doing this now will create enough time to get someone seated in District 8 ahead of budget season/committee meetings.

“Of course, this is not goodbye – I still expect lots of updates from the trenches and, make no mistake, I’ll be watching the meetings and texting many of you in real time with my nonsense. I also plan to stop by the Feb. 7 meeting before it begins to say a proper goodbye in person.

“And you never know – when life calms down and my kids get a bit older, I might just be back. There just aren’t enough attorneys on the RTM.😎”

Lisa Newman

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Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The night before, Jaden Waldman helped honor it. The Bedford Middle School 7th grader sang in an emotional Carnegie Hall concert

The “We Are Here” event drew dignitaries from all over the world. The all-star lineup of presenters and performers included Joel Grey, Harvey Fierstein, Chita Rivera and Shoshana Bean.

Jaden Waldman, on stage. (Photo/Tom McDonald)

“Songs from Songbooks” — written by Jews in ghettos and camps, and discovered after liberation — were sung in honor of survivors and in memory of those that perished. 

Jaden most recently originated the lead role of Noah Gellman in Broadway’s “Caroline, or Change.” He starred as Ben for 2 years in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and performed in the “Ragtime on Ellis Island” concert.

Jaden has voiced lead characters in “Star Wars: Visions,” “Pinkalicious & Peterrific” and “Mirai.” His TV credits include “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Plot Against America.” Jaden is in the feature film “Give or Take,” and the upcoming short film “Curls.”

Click here for the program, and details.

Jaden Waldman at Carnegie Hall.

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Positive Directions’ next “Lunch and Learn” covers “Helping Teens Navigate Loss After COVID.”

The March 2 event (noon to 1:30 p.m., Westport Weston Family YMCA) will be led by Malaika Boyer-Seme, a licensed professional counselor associate with Positive Directions. For more information, click here.

Malaika Boyer-Seme

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Thursday’s “Cocktails and Conversation” at MoCA featured talk about “the intertwined nature of style, and how we use creativity to define a look that is our own.”

Panelists included WEST owner Kitt Shapiro, photographer Jane Beiles, content creator and Designport founder Jen Berniker, and “social artrepreneur” Diana Mashia.

At next week’s “Cocktails and Conversation,” Alexandra M. Thomas leads a curator talk about the current exhibition, “Paul Camacho: El Ritmo y La Unidad.” Click here to register.

Enjoying the MoCA exhibit: Vernice Holmes and Sue Donato. (Photo/Leslie LaSala)

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Staples High School’s January Student of the Month are seniors Frankie Lockenour and Claire Sandhaus, juniors Moses Beary and Curtis Sullivan, sophomores Luca Caniato and Shane Sandrew, and freshmen Matthew Anto and Annabelle Katz.

The program recognizes students who help make Staples High School a welcoming place for peers and teachers. “They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students that keep the high school together, making it the special place that it is.”

All candidates are nominated by teachers.

Staples High School’s January Students of the Month (from left): Claire Sandhaus, Luca Caniato, Frankie Lockenour, Shane Sandrew, Annabelle Katz, Moses Beary, Curtis Sullivan, Matthew Anto

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There’s always something special at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Next month, it’s extra special.

On the first 2 Thursdays — February 2 and 9 (Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) — you can drop off gently used winter coats, mittens, hats and gloves, plus medical supplies. All are desperately needed in Ukraine.

Cash contributions to help with shipping costs are always needed.

Questions? Want to help? Email Mark Yurkiw: mark.think3d@gmail.com.

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Carl Addison Swanson’s latest book, “Blind Bigot,” is now available at Amazon

“The inner bigotry and hate of a suburban commercial banker comes to light after he suffers from a horrific medical procedure,” the bookseller says. Booklist describes it as “a nasty look at ourselves. A page-turner.”

Swanson — a longtime Westport resident, and member of Staples High School’s Class of 1966 — is an award winning author of 54 novels. They include the Hush McCormick series, Tug Christian thrillers, Scooter mysteries, Ian Fletcher legal series, Justin Carmichael nostalgic memoirs, 5 books of short stories, and 5 stand-alone books.  

He has co-authored 10 books with editor Jo Ann Miller. Five of his works have been optioned to the film industry, including the latest Hush McCormick trilogy to DreamWorks. 

Swanson earned a Presidential Unit Citation for his service in Vietnam. He is CEO of Bermuda’s CAS Publications, and  is a contributing editor at Hearst Communications.  

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Former Westport resident Abraham Nad died peacefully yesterday at United Hebrew Geriatric Center in New Rochelle, New York. He was 92.

Born in Houston, he graduated from Rice University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He also earned a master’s degree from Columbia University.

Abraham served in the National Guard and Navy from 1952 to 1954. He worked as an accountant and publisher, eventually opening Directors’ Publications.

Abraham loved to travel, and was an avid fan of classical music and the arts. He was a longtime member of Temple Israel, serving on its Board of Trustees, and a supporter of the Westport Arts Center.

Abraham is survived by his daughters Karen Bernstein (Peter) and Laurie Desjardins; grandchildren Rebecca Anne Bernstein (Justan Dakes) and Benjamin Jacob Bernstein (Jocelyn Ezratty), and great-grandson Lucas Joshua Dakes.  He was predeceased by his wife Elsa Nad in 2015.

Funeral services will take place tomorrow (Sunday, January 29, 10 a.m., Temple Israel Cemetery in Norwalk). Memorial contributions may be made to the Nad/Schiff Special Children’s Fund at Temple Israel. Click here to leave a condolence message.

The Nad family extends deep love and gratitude to United Hebrew Geriatric Center for their love, care and grace over the past 4 years.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature shows yesterday’s sunrise. Katherine Jacob captured all its glory, at Schlaet’s Point on Hillspoint Road.

(Photo/Katherine Jacob)

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And finally … Philadelphia is mourning the death of Jerry Blavat.

The former TV dancer became “the most influential disc jockey in the Delaware Valley thanks to his third-rail energy, fantastical wordplay and finely honed instincts for the particular rhythms of his native city. He died last week at 82, from an autoimmune neuromuscular disease.

“The Geator with the Heater” had an outsize influence on the music scene of his day, thanks to his radio, television and concert efforts. Flags flew at half-staff throughout the region, in his honor.

While still in high school, he was a road manager for Danny & the Juniors:

He is credited by many in the radio industry with inventing the concept of “oldies.”

And among the many groups he is credited with helping break out nationally: the Isley Brothers.

 Click here for a full obituary.

(On this mid-winter weekend day, please consider a contribution to “06880” — your hyper-local blog. Click here — and thank you!)

State Reps Blow Whistle On Turf Fields

Westport has 4 artificial turf playing fields: Paul Lane and Jinny Parker at Staples, Wakeman just north of Bedford Middle School, and PJ Romano behind Saugatuck Elementary School.

There has been talk of turfing at least one more surface at Wakeman, and Loeffler at Staples.

Turf fields require much less maintenance than grass fields. However, they must be replaced every 10 years or so.

Paul Lane Field at Staples High School is one of Westport’s 4 artificial surfaces.

Nearly every other town in Connecticut has multiple turf fields too.

Their future would be in doubt, if a bill proposed by 2 state representatives passes.

The “Act Prohibiting State And Municipal Contracts For The Purchase And Installation Of Artificial Turf Fields” asks that

the general statutes be amended to provide that on and after October 1, 2023, no municipality, including, but not limited to, any school district, and no private entity, department or agency of the state shall enter a contract for the purchase, use or installation of artificial turf for a new or existing field.

It also would provide that “such turf fields be grandfathered to allow for their useful life but prohibit their replacement after such time.”

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to “prohibit municipal and state contracts for the purchase and installation of artificial turf fields that pose health and environmental concerns.”

There are many kinds of artificial surfaces, including coconut and crumb rubber. Different surfaces were not identified in the proposed law, nor were “health and environmental concerns.”

The bill heads now to the Joint Environment Committee. For more information, click here(Hat tip: Kathleen Galley)

Visitors watch the UN-Westport soccer match at PJ Romano Field.

Roundup: Aloha, Bonjour …

A much-needed mid-winter touch of Hawaii came to the Westport Library Sunday night.

The Staples High School Orphenians put on an aloha-themed cabaret, as part of their fundraising efforts for their summer trip to the Aloha State.

Longtime Staples music aficionado — and former Fairfield music teacher — Ellen Kuroghlian was there. She writes:

“The benefit was outstanding. The singers were better than I have ever heard at Staples. The program included individual singers, with Broadway star Kelli O’Hara singing the last number — “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — with all Orphenians.

“David Pogue was the emcee. He worked on Broadway for 10 years, and is an expert at the piano, so he used it to emphasize a story or point. What a wonderfully dedicated father of a current Staples student, and 2 college age ones. And what wonderful gifts from these 2 pros.

“Choral director Luke Rosenberg sang too. He is a terrific performer. ‘Excellent modeling,’ as we educators say.

“Staples culinary instructor Chef Cecily Gans deserves ‘extra credit’ for the wonderful and bounteous ‘aloha-themed bites’ (which were large ones). Aliso Milwe Grace was there too, helping out.

“The performance, and the whole evening, was totally special.”

If you missed it — or just want to add something to the Orphs’ fund — click here.

Two of the many performers. James Dobin-Smith sang “My Way,” while Ethan Walmark played “Piano Man.”

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Yesterday’ Roundup item about the regular weekend pop-up clean-up projects around town led several readers to ask: When is the next one?

It’s Saturday, February 5, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot (11 a.m.). Bring gloves and trash bags, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty in.

There will be more than enough garbage to go around!

Questions? Email acolabellartm4@gmail.com

This past weekend’s trash pick-up on Greens Farms Road. Next up on February 5: the imperial Avenue parking lot.

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Earlier this month the mayor of Marigny — Westport’s French sister city — announced they’d be joining us, in offering aid to Lyman, Ukraine.

Marigny has not forgotten the help our town provided in the years following World War II.

Want proof? Check out the banner on the top of the region’s daily newspaper:

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Today’s Kings Highway Elementary School students have no clue about the 1980s. Some of their parents may be too young to remember it too.

But the KHS PTA hosts a “totally tubular ’80s-themed prom fundraiser” on Saturday, February 4 (7 to 10 p.m., Norwalk Inn). All KHS parents – past, present and future are invited. So is everyone else in town, no matter what you though about (or did during) that decade.

It’s a fundraiser for the school’s Outdoor Learning Center. Money is needed for raised planter beds, special bat-watching cameras, a greenhouse and more.

There will be dancing to ’80s tunes, and auction items from places like Modern Dermatology, Splatterbox, and Wakeman Town Farm, plus field passes to a Mets game, and a chance to have kids driven to school in a police cruiser.

While satin prom dresses, shoulder pads and “Miami Vice”-inspired pastel suits are encouraged. Tickets include a full open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and charcuterie, crudité and pasta stations. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Artists’ rendering of Kings Highway Outdoor Learning Center.

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For 60 years, Weston Emergency Medical Service has provided free care to town residents — and mutual aid to Westport, Wilton, Fairfield, Redding, Norwalk, Easton and Georgetown.

On March 25 (6:30 p.m., Rolling Hills Country Club, Wilton), the 100%-volunteer organization celebrates those 6 decades in a very Weston way.

Tony Award-winning director/longtime TV and movie star/proud Weston resident James Naughton will emcee.

Dan Micciche — music director of “Wicked” — will perform, along with other Broadway stars.

Weston EMS hopes to raise $100,000 to continue their mission of neighbors helping neighbors with the highest level of emergency care services and state-of- the-art equipment — all free.

An online raffle begins March 10. Tickets will also be available at the gala, plus silent and live auctions.

To become a sponsor, advertise in the program, or donate a product or service to the raffle or auctions, email abelport@westonems.com

Tickets are on sale now.  To purchase tickets, click here and scroll down. Questions? Email gala@westonems.com. 

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Sarah Jane Cion returns to Jazz at the Post this Thursday (January 26, shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7).

First place winner of the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition, and a thoughtful composer, her songs “Cat in the Hat” and “Golden Song” were featured respectively in “The Mule” and “Thor: The Dark World.”

Joining Sarah Jane are bassist Peter Brendler, drummer Michael Camacho and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

The cover charge is $15. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Sarah Jane Cion

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It took a while for last year’s jetty project to be completed at Burying Hill Beach.

Now — with crowds gone — it’s a perfect home for gulls.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from one of the few folks at Westport’s “other” beach: Eric Bosch.

(Photo/Eric Bosch)

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And finally … if you’re ready for the ’80s (as in, the Kings Highway Elementary School fundraiser — story above), then you must get up and dance to this:

(“06880” hasn’t been around since the 1980s. But we’ve covered Westport — and have not missed a day — since 2009. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog.)

Zeeto On The Radio

Fifty years ago, University of Bridgeport student Mike Zito wandered into the WPKN studio. Soon, he had his own radio show.

In the half century since, Zito has done plenty. He managed a coffee house, hosting Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton, Bela Fleck and many others.

He created a science show for kids: “Zeeto the Bubbleman.” He opened for Shari Lewis, and performed at the Baltimore Museum of Arts Dr. Seuss exhibit.

Performing the show at schools sparked a 27-year teaching career. The bulk of that was spent creating and growing the Media Department at Staples High School, with his longtime friend Jim Honeycutt.

Mike Zito, at WWPT-FM

As advisor to student radio station WWPT-FM, Zito won national awards like Best High School Radio Station in the Country). He was twice named the nation’s outstanding faculty advisor (the second time sharing it with Honeycutt).

Zito and Honeycutt retired together, in 2016. Zito moved to Austin, then to Lewes, Delaware.

During those 5 decades, radio — that most basic of all mass media — evolved significantly. Zito is still on the WPKN air, two Thursdays each month (though, as an example of where radio is today, he does his show remotely, from his new home).

But now he’s got a new project.

Earlier this month, he launched “Zeeto on the Radio.” It’s an internet station, and he hopes it will take community radio to a new level.

Zito does all the programming himself. Genres include blues, British Isles, Canada, Texas, folk, classic rock and women artists.

The music is eclectic — and sometimes rare. A jam with Clarence Clemmons and Jerry Garcia drew raves from music aficionados who never knew they played together.

Starting with just a Facebook post, and word of mouth, listeners have found Zeeto on the Radio. They come from all over the US, and 37 countries (including, for reasons he can’t yet fathom, Norway and Lithuania).

Someone in Ireland emailed: “Brilliant! I listen every day.”

The website (click here) is no-frills. There’s a schedule, a list of the song being played plus the previous 4, a bit about Zito, “listen with Alexa” instructions, and a “Donate” button.

Zito pays for music rights, equipment, and acquisition. Still, he says, he’ll do this even if he doesn’t make a dime.

His internet radio show has provided tremendous enjoyment. He’s meeting people from all over the world.

And it’s given him a sense of purpose, since the death of his wife Joni from cancer 7 months ago.

“This is far from viral,” Zito says. “But I’m having a blast.”

Zito would love to hear from new listeners — and former students. Email zeetoradio@hotmail.com.

(“06880” relies on support from readers. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

Remembering Win Headley

Win Headley — one of the most storied athletes in Staples High School history — died last Wednesday in Naples, Florida. He was 73 years old. His family says:

Born on the Fourth of July 1949, Winthrop (Win) Sargent Headley was a real-life Yankee Doodle Dandy.

He became an All-American football player, a lifelong football coach, a successful Wall Streeter, a loving family man, a passionate volunteer, an avid golfer, a loyal friend and a man of faith.

Win was born in California and raised in Westport. He starred as a Staples football player, and state champion heavyweight wrestler.

Win attended Wake Forest University, where he was a football All-American, captain and MVP on its ACC championship team. He received WFU’s first annual prestigious Arnold Palmer and Brian Piccolo Awards as an outstanding athlete, and is in the university’s Hall of Fame.

Win Headley at Wake Forest University.

He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, and played for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. His career was shortened by injury.

He found a true calling as a coach. Over the years, Win coached at 3 universities (Winston-Salem State, Wake Forest and Princeton) and several high schools.

While in Princeton, New Jersey Win married Patty Cashill. They raised a family, and he had a long, successful career as a financial advisor for institutional investments.

In retirement in Naples Win continued to coach. He also volunteered in libraries, animal shelters and with the Knights of Columbus.

As Arnold Palmer would say, Win “played on through” when he peacefully passed away in his sleep on January 18.

Win Headley

Win is survived by his wife Patty; children Summer and Jonathan; sister Lynn Kelly (Michael); 2 nieces, 1 nephew; stepdaughter-in-law Rachel Y. Watlington, and step-grandson Christopher T. Watlington. He was predeceased by his stepson, Thomas Watlington III.

As Win would say, “The long and short of it”: Winthrop Sargent Headley was a man of passion and faith. He was a loving father and husband, and a devoted friend.

There will be a celebration of his life at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, Win would have appreciated your support for the Deacon Club (499 Deacon Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27105) and the Humane Society of Naples (370 Airport-Pulling Road, North Naples, FL 34104).