Category Archives: Staples HS

Staples Tuition Grants Announces Covid-19 Community Challenge

One month ago, Staples Tuition Grants was wrapping up its 2020 efforts.

For 77 years they’ve helped high school seniors — and graduates — close the gap between the cost of higher education, and what they could afford.

Applications were in. Interviews were scheduled. In June there would be a ceremony at which over 100 students would receive over $300,000 in grants.

Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. Suddenly, life got much tougher for Westporters. Loss of income was compounded by plunging portfolios — many of which included college funds.

In response to this urgent need, STG has partnered with a small group of generous donors. Together, they have pledged $50,000 to establish the STG COVID-19 Community Challenge.

Now they’re challenging Westporters — and Staples grads around the country — to meet (or exceed) an additional $50,000 in donations.  The goal is $100,000.

All funds raised in this campaign will go to this year’s STG student grant recipients. They’ll supplement whatever other grants will be awarded in June, for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

STG says:

You know our grant recipients. They are your neighbors, babysitters, camp counselors, lifeguards, baristas, and local restaurant and retail store staff.

Many lost those jobs — this summer and beyond — and live with a parent or grandparent who also lost income or college savings through this crisis. For most of our grant recipients, their ability to pursue or continue higher education this fall will be determined by the amount of financial aid they receive in the next few weeks.

The STG COVID-19 Community Challenge is your opportunity to help! If you have a current college student receiving a refund on tuition, room and board, please consider donating a portion to this effort. If you planned to attend a fundraiser or charity event this spring that was canceled, please consider directing part of what you had planned to give to this challenge.

This is our opportunity as a strong and united community to show Staples graduates attending college next year that Westport supports them.

Click here to donate to the STG Covid-19 Community Challenge. STG also accepts checks, made out to “Staples Tuition Grants” and sent to PO Box 5159 , Westport, CT 06881-5159. Include your name as you’d like it to appear, your address and email, and write “Community Challenge” in the memo field.

A highlight of the annual Staples Tuition Grants ceremony is when recipients meet people with a fund named after a loved one. Several years ago Dr. Al Beasley posed with Megumi Asada, who received the Dr. Jean Beasley Award. Megumi has gone on to a career in medicine.

Photo Challenge #275

You’ve got 2 choices as you turn from Compo Beach Road into the main entrance. (We’re talking about the pre-, and hopefully post-, coronavirus days.)

You can look right, into the entrance drive between the basketball courts and playground.

Or you can look left.

Most people are intent on getting into the beach. But the view to the left is of Craig “Doc” Davidson’s house.

It’s a handsome old beach house — recently flood-raised — on the corner of Bradley Street.

And there — on the chimney — is the anchor that was the subject of last week’s Photo Challenge. (Click here to see.)

Some Westporters thought it was at Ned Dimes Marina. But Pat Saviano, Lyne Kiedaisch, Diane Silfen, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Brian Duchan, Jonathan McClure and Mary Ann Batsell all knew it belongs solely to Doc.

Who is he?

Doc is a 1970 Staples High School graduate. He’s a realtor. And a documentary filmmaker. (His nickname came long before that career.)

In addition to his wonderful chimney, Doc owns the most interesting fence in Westport.

The inner side — visible only to Doc and his guests — is a fantastic, faithful mural rendering of Ebbets Field. You can read about it (and see it) here.

Doc is a huge baseball fan. One of his films is about the great Satchel Paige. Click here for that story.

Now that you know everything about the chimney, the house, and the man who lives there, it’s time to play ball.

With this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

 

COVID-19 Roundup: Student Theater And Art; Medical Heroes; Baseball, Masks, More

The Westport Country Playhouse is dark. But it lights up on both Facebook and the Playhouse’s own YouTube channel on Friday, April 17 (7 p.m.).

It shines with Westport’s own Kelli O’Hara, and 10 randomly selected Fairfield County High School students. They’ll chat with the Broadway star, and perform musical theater selections.

Students can click here between tomorrow (Sunday, April 5, 10 a.m.) and Wednesday (April 8, 10 a.m.). Upload a video of yourself performing any musical theater song.

In addition to the 10 students chosen, 10 “understudies” will be selected to submit a question for Kelli to answer during the show.

“I’m a firm believer in the healing magic of the arts,” the Tony Award-winning (“The King and I”) actor says. Most recently, she earned a Tony nomination for “Kiss Me, Kate.”

All videos submitted will be featured in a compilation, released on Playhouse social media channels. For more information, email education@westportplayhouse.org.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


First “06880” encouraged Westport students to do artwork while they’re home from school.

Now Friends of Westport Public Art Collections is doing the same. Here’s the hook: If your work is accepted by Friends, it will be featured in the public schools’ 2020-21 calendar.

Submissions can be new — or something already painted, drawn, photographed or digitally created. Click here for details.


Many people have seen this photo from Yale New Haven Health. Front line personnel are pleading with everyone to keep physical distance.

But you may not know that the nurse in the far left of the front row is Nick Kiedaisch. The 2012 Staples High School graduate — and varsity baseball star — is among the medical heroes. Let’s do all we can to make his and his colleagues’ jobs easier. (Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)


Lifelong Westporter Deborah Johnson is a well-known designer and decorator, with her own drapery business.

Over the years she has assembled plenty of extra fabric. Now she’s using it to make face masks. If you’d like to help, or know someone in great need, email wsptgirl@yahoo.com(Hat tip: Steve Crowley)


Speaking of masks: Yesterday’s Roundup story on Virginia Jaffe’s project raised immediate funds, delivered 4 sewing helpers — and brought a request from the director of STAR Lighting the Way. Today, Virginia and her crew are donating 80 masks for their staff. Well done!

Virginia Jaffe, in her workroom


It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the spring high school sports season will happen.

That’s devastating news to hundreds of Staples athletes — and hundreds of thousands more across the country.

Which brings up this local/national news: In a just-released preseason poll, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association ranked the Wreckers 31st, in the entire country.

They’re defending state champions. But they may never get their chance to defend their title.

They might also lose the opportunity to see how much further they’d climb in the rankings. Normally at this time of year, anticipation and excitement would be high.

Opening day was supposed to have been today.

Instead of “Play ball!” it’s “Keep away!”

So right now, guys, we’re sorry. Congratulations on being #31 in the nation will have to suffice. (Hat tip: Vince Kelly)


And finally, what’s Saturday without a dance party?

C’mon! It’s time to throw down. Nobody’s watching! And even if they are …

Special Staples “Seussical” Streams This Weekend

The coronavirus put an abrupt end to countless events. Many were months in the making.

But few came to a more crushing close than “Seussical: The Musical.”

Over 100 Staples Players cast and crew members prepared for the spring production since December. Just 2 days before opening night, Westport schools closed.

Sets, choreography, lighting, music — poof! It all vanished, into the infectious air.

Seussical” is fun …

Fortunately, Players videotaped the Tuesday night rehearsal show, performed before an audience of 100 parents.

Tomorrow (Saturday, April 4, 7 p.m.) and Sunday (April 5, 2 p.m.), Players will broadcast that now-historic recording.

Anyone who bought tickets to any of the scheduled performances will receive an email link on Saturday to the livestreams. Intermission features special video appearances by former Players, all now involved in the arts.

But — in typically creative Players fashion — you don’t have to have had a ticket to see this “Seussical.”

The organization set up a GoFundMe page. Though a few staff stipends are paid by the town, the rest of the award-winning program is funded almost entirely by ticket sales.

… for all ages. (Photos/Kerry Long)

They pay for lumber, paint, lighting equipment purchase and rental, costume construction and rental, props, set designers, sound equipment and microphone rental, pit musicians’ salaries, makeup, wigs — and much, much more.

An average show — though Players are far from “average” — costs well over $50,000 to produce.

That’s a lot of money. But it’s also an amazing educational experience for hundreds of Staples students. Plus of course, a wonderful treat for the community.

Players has been on solid financial ground for over 15 years. Because of sellout audiences and great support from Westporters, they consistently recouped the money they spent. They seldom ask much financially from the community.

Now — having lost the opportunity both to produce “Seussical,” and benefit financially from it — they’re asking for help.

The Players know: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

This weekend, we can smile along with them. How lucky we all are that the one performance happened.

(Want a special “Seussical” preview? Click here!)

Emma Heads Straight To EMS

Emma Straight’s interest in medicine was strong. Certified as an EMT when she was just 16, she spent 20 hours a week with the Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service. Her usual shift was 6 to 11 p.m.

In addition, at Staples High School Emma founded and led the Prosthetic Hand Club.

After graduating last spring, she headed west to Santa Clara University. She intended to major in biology. But an Introduction to Public Health class in the first quarter — covering the spread of disease, our healthcare system and the socioeconomic impact of illness — sparked her interest.

She switched majors, to public health.

Emma Straight

Emma had no idea of the public health crisis just around the corner. But when her college shut down in mid-March and she returned home, she knew exactly what to do.

On March 16, Emma headed to WVEMS. She’s been working 3 shifts a week ever since.

“I always felt comfortable there,” she says of the Jesup Road headquarters next to the police station. “It was a calming place for me.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it still is.

Despite the public health crisis, it’s also a very safe place, Emma emphasizes.

“I’m really, really proud of our leaders, like Marc Hartog and Kevin Doherty,” she says. “They prioritize our safety, and give us a lot of up-to-date information. We have to be safe. If we get sick, we can’t help anyone.”

The safety protocol begins with detailed questions asked by dispatchers, for every call. Many are now COVID-related. EMTs must be certain of every situation, before they arrive.

Once on scene, EMTs keep their distance while asking their screening questions. If a patient shows symptoms of the virus, they don protective gear.

But, Emma says, “Our patient care is the same as always. It hasn’t changed at all.

“We’re super cautious,” she reiterates. “We don’t know who has been exposed to what. Everyone is on edge. But there are so many precautions, we feel good.”

The public has been great about donating masks too, Emma notes.

When she was in high school, Emma felt good about giving back through WVEMS. Now rather than just sitting home, she feels “really, really good. I feel like I’m really able to do something, at a very tough time.”

COVID-19 Roundup: Restaurant Closures; Free Tax Service; Easter Bunny; Rebate $$ Answers; Staples Hoops; Much Much More!

As of 4:30 p.m. yesterday (Monday, March 30), Westport had 115 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up 1 from the previous day. Weston had 24, up 3.

Of Connecticut’s 2,571 confirmed cases, the largest number continues to be in the 50-59 age group. The over-80 group has the highest rate of hospitalizations and deaths. Click here for a detailed look at the statewide spread of the disease.

Connecticut’s hospitals, nursing homes and medical facilities are in desperate need of medical volunteers. The state has embarked on a campaign to urge people with healthcare or medical backgrounds. Click here to register.


Rizzuto’s, Amis and Terrain restaurants have closed, until further notice. All had provided curbside and takeout dining during the coronavirus crisis.


As healthcare workers and first responders work tirelessly to keep us healthy, we should do the same for them.

“Mission Nutrition” helps. As described by Westporter Lisa Adelmann (whose husband and 2 brothers are local physicians), the goal is to deliver healthy care packages to hospitals, nursing homes, and police and fire departments around the country.

Packages contain protein shake mix, protein bars, energy and hydration drinks, and herbal tea. Some have hand cream.

To minimize human contact, each care package is assembled in a warehouse, and shipped directly to a hospital or first responder site.

Funds are needed. No donation is too small (or too big). To donate, Venmo @missionnutrition. Questions? Email donatetohelp.lisa@gmail.com.


The town of Westport now offers online tax preparation, with no in-person contact.

Volunteers — led by Westporter Mark Spivack — are the same IRS-certified tax preparers who have offered these services for years. The site is safely encrypted.

Users need a smartphone or computer, WiFi access, a working phone number and email address.

Though the US tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, many Westporters have time on their hands now to “be prepared.”

For more information and to access the service, click here.


Bill Vornkahl reports that although the Greens Farms Fire Company’s 69th annual Easter Egg Hunt has been canceled, the Easter Bunny will make rounds throughout town starting early afternoon on Sunday, April 12.

Be on the lookout for him! (Although, Bill says confidentially, Westport’s Bunny is really a her.)

Not the Greens Farms Volunteer Fire Company’s Easter Bunny. (Photo/Hannah Hall)


Need info on the federal government plan to distribute direct payments to individuals and families? Congressman Jim Himes sends along this link to frequently asked questions. To learn more, call his office: 203-333-6600.


Linda Hall offers a special shout-out to Sue Pfister: “My parents never expected the Senior Center director to be their Meals on Wheels delivery person. But last week, there Sue was — by herself, in a downpour.” Thank you, Sue!

Sue Pfister (seated, right), at her beloved Senior Center.


Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate Nicki Brill now works as a middle school math teacher.

She says she is “lucky to be healthy and quarantined with my family.” She wants to recruit volunteers to help neighbors in need.

Click here for her form for healthy volunteers. Click here if you should not leave home (immunocompromised, older, other pre-existing conditions, quarantined). and need help with groceries or errands.

Looking to help in other ways? Click here for a link to many great ideas.

Nicky Brill


Village Pediatrics posted this, on social media. Their “kids” do grow up!

(Dr. Nikki Gorman adds, “We really need these, to use as reusable masks over our N95s that we can wash daily with the new washer dryer we are installing in our office — and for patients’ parents and some patients who could be asymptomatic carriers of COVID.”)


COVID-19 put a brutal end to the Staples High School girls basketball team’s magical season, just hours before the state semifinal game tipped off.

Senior co-captain Marisa Shorrock wrote about that emotional end for The Ruden Report. I reposted her insightful story on “06880.”

ESPN got into the act. Her essay was featured on the sports network.

Then last night, the entire team got a shout-out on ESPN’s Senior Moments feature. Scott Van Pelt did the honors — and quoted from Marisa’s story.

It’s not the state championship they probably would have won. But it’s nice to get a bit of well-deserved national recognition! Click below (skip to 1:44, if all you care about are our Wreckers).

(Hat tip: Russell and Don Kubie)

 


A bogus website claims that the Greens Farms post office is closed. (Here it is — but don’t click on any links inside it. You can never be too safe!)

The cute little post office by the train station is not closed. They’re still open, still serving customers in their homey, neighborhood way. Officials are aware of the fake site, but have been unable to shut it down.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)


Though the awards ceremony for TEAM Westport’s annual teen diversity essay contest is postponed, the group — town’s multicultural committee — has announced the 3 finalists.

Staples High School seniors Sahiba Dhindsa and Zachary Terrillion, and sophomore Victoria Holoubek-Sebok, are in the running for prizes of $1,000, $750 and $500.

This year’s prompt asked teens to describe experiences involving stereotypes focused on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, and consider steps that organizations, schools or individuals could take to counteract those stereotypes.


Westport musician Jon Saxon has performed for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce at Supper & Soul and the Levitt Pavilion.

Tonight at 8 p.m. he livestreams a 30-minute concert. Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting ID is 901 431 6011.

It”s free — but he encourages donations during the show (or any time!) to benefit Yale New Haven Hospital. Click here to contribute.


Many supermarkets take strong measures to guard against COVID’s spread. Stew Leonard’s goes extra far. They’ve put Plexiglas shields on all registers and express lines, and at the customer service and coffee departments. Their hot and cold bar food is all pre-packaged now, and employees serve hot food and soup.


And finally, I love the song “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers. This isn’t it. (It’s a lot less Scottish, for one thing.) But it’s almost as good.

Ari Edelson: Coming Out Of A 2-Week COVID Battle

By this point, nearly everyone in Westport knows someone who has suffered from COVID-19.

And by now, everyone should know that it does not strike only the elderly, or those with underlying health issues.

If you don’t believe that — or don’t think you know someone affected by the coronavirus — think again.

Ari Edelson is a 1994 graduate of Staples High School. After starring with Staples Players — including directing their groundbreaking production of “Falsettos” — and graduating from both Yale and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he earned international fame as a producer and director in the US and Europe.

A few years ago, Ari Edelson was honored with a Westport Arts Center Horizon Award. (Photo/Emily Hamilton Laux)

On Sunday, Ari — who is in his mid-40s, and has been in excellent health — posted this on Facebook:

Hi, folks. Many of you have been amazing over the last 2 weeks as I dealt with being both home quarantined and put totally through the wringer with COVID-19. I just wanted to share my most heartfelt gratitude as I’m coming out the other side of it.

On March 15, I started having a minor elevated temp and cough, which then fully exploded into 8 days of delirious fevers of 103, coughs, and drenching sweats.

After a 2-week nightmarish battle, I have now been afebrile for 2 days, comfortable and gaining strength.

Julia Levy has been a superwoman through it all, not only taking care of me, but also somehow also keeping Eliot and Leo on their best behavior, coordinating care with my father (my forever medical hero), not to mention coming up with home school ideas for hundreds of thousands of other families through her work at Sparkler and Noggin.

Ari Edelson, Julia Levy and their son Eliot, in 2017.

She is truly phenomenal, as is the rest of my family. I am so thankful to the generous folks at Weill Cornell and Yale New Haven, who provided me and my family desperately appreciated guidance.

I am more than happy to answer questions for anyone, if my experience can be helpful. To one question I am getting already: Even though I went through New York State’s intake process to be tested on March 20, I was never able to get a test, and never even got the promised return phone call.

I cannot blame the state for it — they are more than overrun. But the failure of full national leadership to address this one fundamental issue and own up to it should give anyone pause about how you take care of a populace that you cannot even test.

If you cannot test, you cannot plan, and the data we are all seeing currently is faulty at its core. I will continue to be one of the likely hundreds of thousands of COVID cases that are unreported, an entire quadrant of data that may entirely shift understanding of the disease and our planning for it.

One other thing that we learned through this process was the importance of acquiring a pulse oximeter, a tiny little finger meter used to measure 02 circulation. With consistent use it kept us on top of this horrible virus as best we could, highlighting my luck in maintaining sufficient lung function and providing the light and sanity that kept us focused on convalescing and not taxing precious healthcare resources.

We were lucky that my O2 levels never went beneath the 92% threshold, but having the tools to monitor them made all the difference. If I can recommend anything to the many of you who have yet to have this virus hit your house, it is to say that knowledge is power, and science is to be heeded and trusted. Science is real.

And go get yourself a pulse oximeter to be safe.

And then — proving the coronavirus could not conquer his sense of humor — Ari posted this:

Science Olympians Confront Virus

The Staples High School girls and boys basketball teams — both enjoying their best seasons in decades — saw their state tournament hopes suddenly end. No one knows what will happen to spring sports, though that season seems increasingly unlikely.

But Westport athletes were not the only ones whose seasons came to a brutal end, thanks to the coronavirus.

At Bedford Middle School and Staples High, dozens of students were preparing for the state — and hopefully national — Science Olympiad competitions. They, their teachers and advisors had spent hundreds of hours since August researching, designing and studying.

Building on last year’s success — both teams represented Connecticut at the national tourney at Cornell University (for Bedford, the 3rd trip in 5 years) — the squads felt confident.

Last year’s Bedford Science Olympians …

Science Olympians don’t get the publicity or prestige — and certainly not the crowds — of basketball players. But in the highly competitive world of science contests, the Westporters are superstars.

The Bedford program began 9 years ago. Engineering and design teacher Art Ellis is the driving force — the Geno Auriemma of Science Olympiads. He’s assisted by Dr. Daniel Cortright, a BMS science teacher.

This year — with Coleytown students attending Bedford — the middle school teams merged. CMS engineering and design teacher Keenan Grace brought his students on board, with great success.

… and the Coleytown squad.

Science Olympiads consist of 23 events. Each team — usually 15 students — competes in all 23. (This year’s BMS squad included about 75 youngsters. Including various invitational meets, 50 or so got actual competitive experience.)

The events range from building a structure, vehicle or flying object, to tests in areas like geology, meteorology and anatomy, to hybrid, chemistry lab-style activities.

There are activities too like “Crime Busters,” for forensic analysis.

Then there is “Disease Detectives.”

Developed long before COVID-19 spread across the globe, this Science Olympiad event asks students to examine — and solve — disease outbreaks.

At the national high school tournament, the CDC gives an award to the winner of this event — plus an expense-paid trip to its headquarters in Washington, DC.

Many of the middle school Disease Detectives questions have revolved around food-borne illnesses. They’re fairly straightforward to analyze, Cortright says.

From left: Middle school teachers and Science Olympiad coaches Dan Cortright, Kat Nicholas and Art Ellis.

Not long ago, he and Ellis talked about possible tournament questions. They guessed there would be some about pathogens like COVID-19. They started preparing their team for them.

But before they could solve the problem — or at least, address it — the state and national tournaments were canceled.

The Westport Public Schools have moved to distance learning. Activities like Science Olympiad are on hold.

But if anyone can figure out how to adapt to our new reality — and (who knows?) come up with a way to solve or even prevent future disease outbreaks — it’s these young superstars.


In related Science Olympiad news, 4 members of Staples’ team were also involved in the M3Mathworks Math Modeling Challenge.

Formerly called Moody’s Math Challenge, it’s certainly challenging. Teams of 5 students represent their schools, using math to solve a real world problem.

They meet outside of school, download the problem, then work together continuously for 14 hours. The winning solution earns a large cash prize for the school.

Staples’ team — including those 4 Special Olympians — worked together on the problem before social distancing began.

This year’s involved electric trucks. Specifically, contestants had to make intelligent decisions about the necessary charging infrastructure is complex, and weigh economic and environmental implications for communities surrounding trucking corridors is essential. Over 750 teams competed.

The Staples Mathworks Challenge team, hard at work.

Click here to see the Staples team’s video — 14 hours compressed into 3 minutes — on Facebook. Click here for more information on the M3Mathworks Math Modeling Challenge.

COVID-19: More Rent Reductions; Parks & Rec, Transit News; Realtors Unite; Staples Online; Low-Interest Loans; More

Yesterday’s Roundup began with news of the rent reduction promised by local landlords Edward and Joan Hyde, to tenants like Westport Yarns.

Breno Donatti — owner of Winfield Street Coffee on Post Road West — quickly emailed, noting that his landlord, Alon Panovka, also agreed to waive April’s rent. He’ll discuss May when the time comes.

“Alon has been great to us in our 4 years here,” Breno says.

Winfield Deli closed March 17. He may even get credit for part of this month. Thanks, Alon! (Meanwhile, feel free to order gift cards to use when Winfield reopens!)


Some rules don’t change. This April 1 — as always — dogs are no longer allowed on Compo, Old Mill or Burying Hill beaches, or the Longshore golf course. Dogs are of course welcome at Winslow Park.

The Parks & Recreation Department also announces that because it’s uncertain when the beaches will fully open, beach emblem sales are postponed until further notice.

Parks & Rec reminds Westporters not to congregate at parks and athletic fields. “We encourage all to get outside and get some exercise, but please do not gather in groups,” says director Jen Fava.

Sorry, Fido. As of Wednesday, life will no longer include a day at the beach.


Originally, the Westport Public Schools planned a 2-week closure. As it becomes clear that the shutdown will last (probably much) longer, the district is adapting to online education.

For Staples High School students, that means more interaction with teachers, in more manageable blocks of time. It’s a new way of learning, and administrators, staff and students are figuring it out together.

Whether you’ve got kids in high school or not — or none at all — a video from principal Stafford Thomas is, well, instructive. It shows how Staples is adapting; it outlines the promises and challenges, and it’s a vivid illustration of the cascading effects the coronavirus is having on us all. Click below to view.

 


Real estate agencies often compete for listings and sales. But many came together this week, to help fill a huge need at Yale New Haven Hospital.

A doctor told Sally Bohling they needed Lysol wipes, gloves and shoe covers. The William Raveis realtor called her friends contacted Karen Scott and Mary Ellen Gallagher, of KMS Partners @ Compass.

They put out the word to the Westport realtor community. Quickly, literally thousands of contributions poured in.

The booties idea was particularly inspired. “We aren’t hosting open houses, and the winter weather is behind us. So offering the ones we’re not using was a no-brainer,” Karen says.

 


Connecticut small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic can apply for 1-year, no-interest loans of up to $75,000,

The Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program will make $25 million available to state businesses and nonprofits with up to 100 employees. Loans are up to the lesser of either three months operating expenses and/or $75,000. Click here for details.


With sharply decreased train ridership, starting Monday (March 30) Westport Transit will replace commuter shuttles with an on-demand, door-to-platform minibus service. It will operate to and from any Westport location and the Saugatuck and Greens Farms stations.

Calls should be made the previous day before 5 p.m. (Saturday for Monday pickup) for morning commutes, and at least 45 minutes prior to pickup for the evening commute. The phone number is 203-299-5180.

Door-to-door services for seniors and residents with disabilities are unchanged.

For more information, click here.


It’s a small idea from Hallie and Maya Wofsy, but a great one: Put a red or pink heart on your door. The goal is to show support for all our amazing front-line healthcare workers.

Take a look on your walks through the neighborhood. The hearts are already there. And if you don’t have colored paper or markers, Maya will (very safely) drop one ready-made at your door. Email mayawofsy@gmail.com for details.


And finally, when these 2 kids were quarantined in Italy, they decided to play a little Coldplay. On their violins. Their choice of a song — “Viva La Vida” — couldn’t be more perfect.

 

Rishabh Mandayam Tracks Connecticut’s COVID

Drew Coyne’s Advanced Placement Economics class is one of the most popular at Staples High School. It’s challenging, interactive, and very real-world-oriented.

Before most Americans were concerned about COVID-19, Coyne gave an assignment: research the virus’ impending impact on the United States.

At first it was interesting. Then it got frightening.

Rishabh Mandayam

When Westport schools closed last week, the reality hit home. Rishabh Mandayam — one of Coyne’s 11th-grade students — wanted to understand how quickly and severely towns like ours would be impacted.

So — working with his younger sister Raina — he created a COVID-19 tracker.

The goal is to track the rate of community spread, and increase awareness statewide about the virus.

Data comes from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, CDC and ECD (European equivalent) sites.

Rishabh used a programming language called R to pull the information and create graphs. He published it using HTML and Firebase. His interest was sparked through Staples classes like Introduction to Web Programming and AP Computer Science, with David Scrofani and Clare Woodman.

As you can imagine, Rishabh is a go-getter. He’s co-president of the Coding Club, vice president of Future Business Leaders of America, and a member of the Math Honors Society and Staples Science Olympiad team. He’s currently doing an independent study course in machine learning.

Outside of school he tutors students in math and science. He spent last summer as a software engineering intern at Lockheed Martin, and will return there this summer.

Rishabh has seen websites that track COVID-19 nationally; some do it worldwide. As far as he knows, this is the only site that tracks it exclusively in Connecticut.

Feedback has been very positive. He’s enhancing the tracker regularly, with new ideas and tweaks.

During breaks, of course, from his distance learning — including plenty of work for AP Economics.

(Click here for Rishabh’s COVID-19 tracker.)