Category Archives: Staples HS

Photo Challenge #412

As usual, I supplied the mystery photo.

“06880” readers identified it.

And one of you added all the details the rest of us never knew.

Last week’s image of a sculpture just to the left of the main entrance to Staples High School – hidden partly behind a stone wall, just outside the art classrooms — was correctly noted by Stephen Moskowitz, Andrew Colabella and Diane Bosch.

But it took Ive Covaci to provide the back story. Ive says:

It is titled “Woman’s Head,” dates to circa 1979-1981, and was created by Joseph Goto (1916-1994).

Born in Hawaii, Goto was of Japanese descent, and studied at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago. After WWII, he began sculpting with welded steel, a medium that he was drawn to because of his steel-working experience while serving in the U.S. Army. He taught at University of Michigan, Brandeis, Carnegie-Mellon, and RISD.

Goto writes: “Cutting the steel is like carving, as in the Matisse and Picasso cutouts. It’s not mechanical. It’s not a logical thing that you learn; it comes from long experience…It gives me a good feeling to build things. Click here for more information,

Take a look next time you pass by Staples or online here,

Today’s Photo Challenge is a plaque honoring one man with 2 locally famous names: Burr and Sherwood.
If you know where in Westport it hangs, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

 

Roundup: “Guys & Dolls,” World Cup, Bridgeport Boatworks …

Last week, “06880” reported on the hard luck suffered by the cast of Staples Players’ “Guys and Dolls.” Henry Carson (Nathan Detroit) fell ill just before the show opened. Freshman Will McCrae stepped spectacularly into the breach.

The next day, understudies Graham Griffin (also a 9th grader) and junior Finley Chevrier took the stage, in other roles.

In the week between opening and closing, nearly 2 dozen of the cast and tech crew got sick. By the final performance, all but one had recovered. The show went on — fabulously.

But without its regular pit orchestra conductor.

Staples music teacher Carrie Mascaro is in the hospital with pneumonia. Her colleague Luke Rosenberg — the school’s choral director — stepped up big time. He learned the score, then led 14 musicians in a flawless performance.

The show must go on. And it did.

But it’s a good bet (ho ho) that directors David Roth and Kerry Long will tell the improbable “Guys & Dolls” story to future Players for many years to come.

Conductor Luke Rosenberg in the pit last night. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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The World Cup starts today.

If you can’t be in Qatar for the opening match — the hosts vs. Ecuador, 11 a.m. EST — you can do the next best thing.

Head to Vanish Media System‘s showroom, in the strip mall near Fortuna’s and Greens Farms Spirit Shop.

Mark Motyl’s company builds state-of-the-art home theaters that disappear into customized credenzas or benches. 

He’s got several in the showroom. With Dolby Atmos Surround Sound and a 4k projector, it’s just like being in the stadium. Except at Vanish Media, you’re much closer to the action.

Like Qatar, Mark does not sell beer. But he provides snacks, and is plenty of fun to watch a game with.

There’s an open invitation for today’s 11 a.m. match. If you’d like to arrange a private viewing party for an upcoming game of interest, call or text Mark: 203-246-2011.

Click here for a full schedule of all 64 matches.

In February, Julia Marino’s family and friends gathered in the Vanish Media showroom to watch her silver-winning snowboard performance at the Beijing Olympics. Today, the action switches to soccer’s World Cup in Qatar.

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Over 80 Westport-Weston Y’s Men visited Bridgeport Boatworks Friday morning.

The highly specialized business provides a wide range of maintenance and storage services for boat clients around the world, including New York ferries and super yachts. Its 2 lifts can haul up to 200 tons.

Y’s Men at Bridgeport Boatworks. (Hat tip and photo/Dave Matlow)

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Longtime Westport resident Mary Kinser died peacefully in her sleep on Friday, at home. She was 92. Her family calls her “a tiny package with a huge impact.”

Born in Kentucky and raised in West Virginia, she attended business school and worked as a bookkeeper. She married Bill at 20, and a year later their daughter Mary Jo was born.

The family traveled all across the US and Europe. In 1966 they moved to Toledo, then 14 years later to Geneva, Switzerland for Bill’s work. Mary loved to ski and hike in the Alps.

After her husband died in 1982 she moved to Westport, where her daughter lived. She knew no one here, but began working as a receptionist at the Westport YMCA, a real estate assistant and a babysitter.

She loved Compo Beach: walking, combing for shells and enjoying sunsets. She also found joy and excitement in New York City’s arts and culture scene.

Mary served the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston for over 40 years. She taught Sunday school, prepared communion, babysat in the nursery and visited sick parishioners.

She also volunteered at the Gillespie Center and food bank, delivered meals to shut-ins, and raised money for the less fortunate.

Mary was preceded by her  sisters Mabel Rumbaugh and Mearilyn Auvil. She is survived by her daughter Mary Jo (Greg Hawkins) Kinser; brother John Hackworth, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and step-granfchildren.

Funeral services will be held in West Virginia on Saturday (November 26, noon). Click here for the livestream, or to view later. A memorial service is set for March 11 at United Methodist Church of Westport.

Mary Kinser

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(Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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And finally … Ned Rorem, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, died Friday in New York. He was 99. Click here for a full obituary.

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Friday Flashback #322

The Apple Festival has been gone now far longer than it ran.

But for 18 years — from 1982 to 1999 — it was one of the highlights of autumn in Westport.

Conceived by Staples High School PTA leader (and, later, 2nd Selectwoman) Betty Lou Cummings, it was a celebration of apples, apple cider, apple pies — and a huge fundraiser for Staples organizations.

Betty Lou Cummings and a gift basket filled with (probably) apples.

The fieldhouse was filled with up to 10,000 visitors. Booths, games, food, fun — it was all there. Any high school club or team could offer anything.

One of the most popular, year after year, was Staples Players’ Haunted House. Coming right before Halloween — and with teenage actors eager to entertain (and scare) little kids, it was a no-brainer.

The cast of Staples Players’ Haunted House.

Eventually, CLASP joined as a sponsor, and recipient of funds.

With Election Day around the corner, the Apple Festival also attracted politicians. Bob Dole showed up one year, stumping for someone I’ve long since forgotten.

Today, the Apple Festival — like the Great Race and Festival Italiano — is just a memory.

We’ve got new traditions, like the Slice of Saugatuck.

How do you like them apples?

(Friday Flashback is a regular “06880” feature. If you enjoy it, please click here to support this blog.)

Roundup: Holiday Stroll, Farmers’ Market, Bankside House …

A number of new retailers and restaurants have joined the Holiday Stroll.

The December 3 event (5 to 7 p.m., Main Street and environs) is co-sponsored by “06880” and the Westport Downtown Association. There’s kids’ activities (and Santa!) in front of Cold Fusion, special store deals, cocoa and nibbles, and plenty of neighborly fun.

Greens Farms Academy’s Harbor Blues will sing holiday songs at 5 p.m. Staples High School’s Orphenians will follow at 6:30. Both will be at the tent in front of Cold Fusion.

In addition, Nick Calabrese — a professional singer and music teacher — will lead anyone who wants to join in on a carol sing through downtown. It starts at the corner of Main and Elm Streets at 5 p.m., and will head on to Church Lane and back up Main. Everyone is invited to listen — or sing.

A box will be set up for donations for the PAL holiday toy drive. Feel free to bring an unwrapped, new gift (or two!).

(NOTE: There’s still room for a face painter, and other kids’ stuff. If you’ve got a kids’ talent and want to help, email 06880blog@gmail.com).

Meanwhile, here’s the latest list of Holiday Stroll participants:

  • Bartaco: Hot chocolate on their patio
  • Basso:
  • Black Bear Wines & Spirits: 15% off all wines
  • Bobbles & Lace: Glass of wine & Bobbles Bucks ($$$ off your purchase)
  • Bridgewater Chocolates: Complimentary chocolate tastings and hot chocolate
  • Brooks Brothers: The entire store is 30% off all weekend
  • Capuli: Giving out churros
  • Cold Fusion Gelato: Check back soon!
  • Don Memo: Giving out festive adult and children’s beverages
  • Fred: Complimentary holiday treats
  • Jeera Thai: 20% off on takeout meals
  • Joe’s Pizza: Garlic knots
  • Kerri Rosenthal: 15% off read-to-wear and accessories
  • Le Route Aartisan Chocolates: Free hot chocolate
  • Lift Wellness Group: Discount on bundled psychotherapy and nutrition services; gift cards with 10% discount
  • Lux Bond & Green: Refreshments and surprises
  • Manna Toast: Hot chocolate
  • Megan’s Martha’s Vineyard Boutique: 20% off, and a giveaway bundle
  • Moxie Salon & Beauty  Bar: Spin The Wheel to Win! 20% off hair extensions; $20 off voucher; $25, $50, $75, $100, $200 gift certificates; complimentary spray tan or blowout; $50 off Balayyage or Ombre; complimentary makeup application, girls hair tinsel and/or braids
  • Nomade: Candied almonds in bamboo cone, and cookies
  • Noya Jewelry: Hot holiday drinks
  • Rye Ridge Deli: Free hot chocolate, tea, coffee
  • Savvy + Grace: Holiday treat, and mailbox for kids to drop off letters to Santa
  • Scout & Molly’s: 20% off purchase, light snacks
  • Sorelle Gallery: Gif boxes with discounts from 5 to 15% for any Holiday Collection item; light festive refreshments (prosecco, candy canes, sparkling water, etc.)
  • The Cashmere Sale of Westport: Holiday candy
  • The Tailored Home & Studio Café: Complimentary Santa’s cookies and hot chocolate; 50% off sale on all pillows
  • The Toy Post: A small toy for each child
  • Upnorth: 20% off, and a giveaway
  • West: Raffle for $150 gift card (no purchase necessary); winner drawn at 7:30 p.m.
  • Walrus Alley: Happy hour prices for food and drinks
  • Westport Book Shop: Free book, and a coupon for a future visit
  • Winfield Street Street Coffee: Hot cocoa and cruffins (pecan cinnamon rolls with a croissant dough)
  • Yoga45: Participation in a yoga event.

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Former Boston Red Sox pitcher John Trautwein spoke last night at Town Hall on a tough but very important subject: suicide.

He runs the nonprofit Will To Live Foundation. Raising awareness of teen suicide, it is named after Trautwein’s son Will, who took his life. There were no warnings — no signs of anxiety, depression or unhappiness.

His message about his son — a healthy, happy, popular, athletic, and musical teenager, who came from a loving home yet lost the will to live — resonated deeply with the audience.

John Trautwein at Town Hall. (Hat tip and photo/Andrew Colabella)

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Also yesterday: A good crowd showed up yesterday, for the first Winter Westport Farmers’ Market of the season.

They’ll run every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center on Sylvan Lane.

Except next Thursday. It’s Thanksgiving.

But wait! A special Holiday Market is set for next Tuesday (November 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), at Gilbertie’s.

Yesterday’s Winter Farmers’ Market at Gilbertie’s Herbe & Garden Center. (Photo/Matt Murray)=====================================================

Also yesterday: a first look at Bankside House.

That’s the 12-unit condo complex rising on the west bank of the Saugatuck River, at the site of the former Save the Children (and before that, Famous Schools) offices.

The buildings were designed by Roger Ferris + Partners. They’re built by David Waldman’s David Adam Realty and Urbane New Haven, and are marketed by KMS Team, at Compass. They’ll be finished next year.

A view from the penthouse. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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On October 19, our “06880” Roundup included a photo of tree-cutting at 31 Turkey Hill Road South. Soon, the stumps were gone too.

Less than a month later, Bob Weingarten reports, a row of new trees was planted. May they grow tall and strong!

Cut trees on Turkey Hill South (left), October 19; planted trees, November 16. (Photos/Bob Weingarten)

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Staples High School’s girls soccer team battles for its 2nd consecutive state championship this Sunday (November 20). The Wreckers — ranked #3 in the “LL” (extra large schools) division — take on #1 Cheshire. Kickoff is 4 p.m. at Trinity Health (formerly Dillon) Stadium in Hartford.

Meanwhile, you can see Staples’ future football stars in action.

The PAL 7th and 8th grade teams play for the Fairfield County Football  League title tomorrow (Saturday) at Wilton High’s Fujitani Filed. Game times are 4 and 6 p.m.

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People working in the Gorham Island office building have many perks: easy parking. A quick walk to downtown shops and restaurants.

And 2 bald eagles, hanging out in a tree overlooking the Saugatuck River.

Jill McGroarty sent along today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

Now back to work Jill!

(Photo/Jill McGroarty)

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And finally … on this day in 1493, Christopher Columbus first sighted the island now known as Puerto Rico.

(Our December 3 Holiday Stroll is just one of “06880”‘s many community projects. Please click here to help support our work.)

 

 

Roundup: Candlelight Concert, Mexicue, Poet Laureates …

Don’t say we didn’t tell you.

Staples High School Candlelight Concert tickets go “on sale” to the public — don’t worry, they’re still free! — on December 1.Performances are Friday, December 16 (8 p.m.) and Saturday, December 17 (3 and 8 p.m.).

The link is easy: www.StaplesMusic.org.

Spectacular holiday music will be provided by the symphonic orchestra, symphonic band and choral ensembles. The 82-year-old event blends plenty of time-honored traditions, with some 21st-century twists.

If you’ve been to Candlelight, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never gone — set that alarm for tickets. You don’t need kids in high school to appreciate what these teenagers (and their teachers) do.

One more tradition: the artwork for this year’s concert comes once again from Staples senior Hugh Kennedy. It’s the third year in a row he’s designed the graphics.

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Last February, “06880” announced the imminent arrival of Mexicue.

The restaurant — mixing “street food sensibility” with fine dining — was renovating 38 Main Street, the former site of Bobby Q’s and Onion Alley.

The target for opening was May.

Mexicue missed the mark by 6 months. Opening day is today, at 4 p.m.

From all indications, the wait will be worth it. Westporters who have dined at Mexicue in New York City (Chelsea, NoMad, Midtown), Stamford and Washington say “¡muy bueno!”

Click here for details.

Mexicue

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Westport resident Aye Aye Thant is one of the our town’s biggest boosters of the United Nations.

It’s no wonder. Her father, U Thant, was the third secretary general of the organization. The Burmese leader served from 1961 to 971.

Aye Aye – a longtime Westporter — addressed the Rotary Club yesterday, at Green;s Farms Congregational Church. She reflected on  her father’s legacy of diversity and peace, and the role education played in that vision.

U Thant, who died in 1974, was a strong proponent of decolonization and tolerance. His daughter believes he was ahead of his time.

“As a Buddhist, he believed Buddhism was a great religion but he also understood that hundreds of millions disagreed with him,” she said. That realization led her father to espouse a philosophy of peaceful coexistence.

Aye Aye Thant, speaking at yesterday’s Westport Rotary Club meeting. A photo of her father, U Thant, is on the screen behind her. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)

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Two poet laureates on one stage!

Sixteen years after headlining the Malloy Lecture in the Arts, former US poet laureate Billy Collins returns to the Westport Library.

He’ll chat with Connecticut poet laureate Antoinette Brim-Bell about his new volume, “Musical Tables.” Those short poems focus on nature, animals, mortality, absurdity and love.

The event is December 9 (7 p.m.). Tickets are $26 (same price for 1 or 2 attendees), and include a signed copy of “Musical Tables.” Click here to purchase and for more information.

Westport’s own poet laureate — Jessica Noyes McEntee — says: “If you know Billy Collins’ work, then I don’t have to encourage you to see him live. If you haven’t explored his oeuvre, this night promises to be delightful. His work has a magical and effortless quality that many of us in the poetry community emulate, and enjoy.”

“Billy Collins is perhaps the most revered poet writing in America today,” says Library executive director Bill Harmer. “Most communities would count themselves fortunate to see him once in a lifetime. To have him back in Westport for a second time is a thrill beyond measure. And to be joined by Antoinette is a true gift.”

Billy Collins

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The Staples High School boys soccer program has always given back to the community. This year’s initiative: collecting donations for the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport, and its after-school, vacation and summer camps for low income youth.

All donations will be delivered by players to the Center, in time for their annual holiday party on December 17.

Donations can be made Friday through Sunday, December 2-4, at 1 Baldwin Place (off Bayberry Lane). There will be bins by the garage.

Suggested items include:

  • Soccer balls, dodgeballs, basketballs
  • Plastic hockey sticks
  • Air Hockey Table and supplies
  • Ping Pong table and supplies
  • Complete board games with intact boxes and all pieces
  • Children or family DVDs
  • Unopened arts & crafts supplies
  • Unopened toys for holiday gifts
  • Dolls
  • Headphones
  • Gift cards
  • Hats, scarves and gloves
  • Swim goggles

Can’t find anything to give? Click here to guy new using the Center’s Amazon Wishlist, and have it delivered directly to the Laskin family, 1 Baldwin Place, Westport, CT 06880.

Can’t drop off during the December 2-4 dates? Email nicolelaskin@icloud.com for alternate arrangements.

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Longtime Westporter Ruby Allen died Friday in her sleep. The wife of Winston Allen. she was 87 years old.

Born in Pittsburgh, and one of 8 siblings, she lived here for 48 years.

She graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in finance, and from Baruch College with a master’s in public administration. She also attended Harvard University’ executive program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government..  

Ruby served as an assistant vice president of finance for the Health and Hospital Corporation of New York City for 30 years.

She loved traveling the world for pleasure, and as “first lady of the Westport Rotary Foundation,” attending 10 international conferences, She volunteered for humanitarian for months at a time with her husband, in Haiti and South Africa.

In addition to her husband, Ruby is survived by her stepchildren Vaughn and Julie Allen.

Viewing will be at St Paul’s on the Green (60 East Avenue, Norwalk) on Tuesday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. service and then a noon gravesite ceremony at Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport. Guests are then welcome at the Allen home (4 Burritts Landing North).

Ruby and Winston Allen (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Equinox — just over the border in Southport — is a hot spot for Westporters to work out.

It was even hotter yesterday. A car fire broke out in late morning, and threatened to engulf an adjacent vehicle.

The cause of the blaze is unknown.

Equinox fire. ({Photp and hat tip/Ian O’Malley)

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Staples High School’s November Students of the Month are seniors William Lacend Duprey, Marley Brown. Alexander Mussomeli and Jason Capozucca; junior Kimberly Cheng; sophomore Jane Cunningham, and freshmen Sophie Grijns and Gunnar Eklund.

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

November Students of the Month (from left): William Lacend Duprey ,Kimberly Cheng, Alexander Mussomeli, Gunnar Eklund, Jason Capozucca, Jane Cunningham, Missing: Marley Brown, Sophie Grijns.

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The next show at Amy Simon Fine Art is “Cali Girls.” Featured artists are Kristina Grace, Rene Romano and Maura Sega.

The show runs from November 19 through December 31. Click here for details.

“Quest” – wood panel, butterflies, bioresin, acrylics (Kristina Grace)

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Joe Carpenter offers today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo of his Annabelle hydrangea, and says: “This little girl finally decided she better bloom now before it is too late. Or is she 6 months ahead of everyone else?”

(Photo/Joe Carpenter)

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And finally … Dan McCafferty has died, at 76. He suffered from COPD.

You may not know his name. But you know his voice — from, for example, Nazareth’s “Love Hurts.” The New York Times explains:

His rendition — vocally scratchy but belted out behind reverberating guitar lines — became the definitive one. The world-weary lyrics emphasize hard lessons learned from heartbreak, but his passionate delivery made the song sound more like a statement of unvarnished desire.

The song came to seem characteristic of a post-hippie era, when male vitality was at the center of rock but the combativeness of heavy metal and punk had not yet become popular. In the movie “Dazed and Confused” (1993), “Love Hurts” plays at a 1970s junior high party in a neighborhood recreation center, where longhaired teens slow dance and furtively neck.

Click here for the full obituary.

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Asia Bravo: From Staples To Space Force

Winning the lottery changed Asia Bravo’s life.

But it wasn’t easy.

The lottery she won was Open Choice. That’s the program that allows students from Bridgeport to attend Westport public schools, on a space-available basis.

She entered Long Lots Elementary in 1st grade, continued through Bedford Middle School, and graduated from Staples High in 2011.

“It was a rollercoaster,” Asia says. She had a caring social worker in Julie Horowitz, and a wonderful mentor in Heidi Hammer.

Asia Bravo, in the 2011 Staples  yearbook.

But her home life was difficult. She tried to play basketball at Staples, but because of transportation issues, and the need to take care of 2 younger brothers, she could not pursue it.

After graduation Asia took classes at Housatonic Community College, then transferred to Southern Connecticut State University. She worked 3 jobs to afford tuition — while taking a full load of classes — so in January of 2016, after a year at Southern, she enlisted in the Army.

She did boot camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was sent to Fort Gordon in Georgia, then spent more than 5 years in Germany. She worked as a human relations liaison, and with computers in IT.

“I learned how to push through. The Army instilled mental toughness,” Asia says.

“Good leaders helped me. And I figure a lot out on my own.”

Asia enjoyed Europe. She met good people, and traveled often.

In July 2021 she was reassigned to Fort Gordon, teaching trainees.

Asia Bravo, her Open Choice mentor Heidi Hammer and Heidi’s daughter Kate.

The next month, her father passed away. Four months later, an Army friend died by suicide.

A couple of years earlier, Asia had applied to Space Force. The newest branch of the military was created by President Trump, in recognition that space is a national security imperative.

Much of the work involves computers, which Asia enjoys and is good at. This past February, she was selected for Space Force. That’s not easy: It’s the nation’s smallest armed forces branch, with just 8,400 military personnel.

“I’m helping build the foundation for a new organization,” Asia says proudly She can’t provide details about her work, other than to say it’s in cyberspace and computer intelligence, helping defend space. She is stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

“Space Force is an amazing branch, and this is a great opportunity,” Asia says. “I’m really growing, professionally and personally.”

Asia Bravo with B. Chance Saltzman, Space Force director of space operations.

She has a message for Staples students: “Be ready to go after whatever you want in life. Don’t accept limitations. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘can’t.’ 

“I was told I couldn’t do things. I had a rough background. But I put a lot of hard work into my career. It all paid off. I am greater than I ever presumed I could be.

“I think my dad would be proud of me.”

Roundup: 233 Hillspoint, “Guys & Dolls” Drama, Post-Election Coffee …

For a few years now, 233 Hillspoint Road has sat half-finished. Swaddled in blue, with a chain link fence and weeds, it demolishes the beauty of the Old Mill neighborhood.

But one day, it will look like this:

And — from the beach — like this:

The property is listed for sale.

What would you get for $7.9 million? (Or $4.9 million, unfinished?)

The listing says:

233 Hillspoint Rd. is an exciting, sleek and sophisticated new construction waterfront home. A truly open floor plan that is drenched in sunlight through walls of glass that frame the water from every room. This stunning, beautifully designed, four bedroom all ensuite home, will be finished with high-end, understated elegance by noted architect, Lucien Vita.

The primary suite, with a true cathedral ceiling and private balcony, is next-level. The roof-top deck is beyond cool. Soak up the sun and fresh air while entertaining and watching the fireworks and sailboats on the horizon. Walk barefoot on the champagne sands, through the-beach level covered terrace to your personal elevator that will whisk you from the garage to where your life is lived with clarity, at a pace dictated by nature, the sun, the tides and the rhythm of the waves.

Only a handful of Westport homes have this incredible, panoramic view with a sandy beach. You’re home. And your home is on the beach with crazy gorgeous views.

Click here to see more (and make an offer).

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David Roth and Kerry Long — co-directors of Staples Players — missed the opening night of “Guys and Dolls” in 2009. Kerry gave birth to their daughter Lucy, just 17 minutes before the curtain rose.

Henry Carson missed opening night of the same show on Friday. His absence was at least as significant.

The senior plays Nathan Detroit. But he caught the flu, and — with very little warning — his understudy had to go on.

His freshman understudy.

Will McCrea stepped up big time. He delivered an almost flawless performance, earning a huge hand from the sellout crowd.

That may not have been surprising. Will is Jack Lemmon’s grandson.

Will McCrea as Nathan Detroit, and Jackie Peterson as Adelaide. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The rest of the cast came through too — big time as well. The acting, singing, dancing, sets, lighting and pit make this one of Players’ best shows ever. And that’s saying something.

On Saturday, 2 more actors fell ill. Freshman Graham Griffin took over as Big Jule from senior Charles Watson. Junior Finley  Chevrier went on too.

Both Will and Graham’s Players debuts were impressive. Of course, they’ve been trained well: They shared the role of Daddy Warbucks in last year’s Bedford Middle School production of “Annie.”

Graham Griffin as Big Jule. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“Guys and Dolls” continues this weekend, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (November 18 and 19), and a Saturday matinee at 3 p.m. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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The League of Women Voters of Westport invites voters (and everyone else) to a “Post-Election Coffee.” It’s Wednesday (November 16, 10 a.m., VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue).

Westport’s registrars of voters Deborah Greenberg and Maria Signore will discuss the election, and what happens now the Connecticut’s early ballot initiative has passed.


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Caroline Hendley and her husband rode to Saugatuck Shores this weekend.

She sent this image for “Westport … Naturally.” Check out the Buddha on the far right. Caroline thought that its head, resting on a dock, suggests that it can calm the waters.

(Photo/Caroline Hendley)

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And finally … Jeff Cook, a founding member of Alabama, died last week in Florida. He was 73, and suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

The band had 32 #1 country hits between 1980 and ’93. Several crossed over to the pop charts. Click here for a full obituary.

(Alabama is great. But Westport is better. Please click here to support “06880” — your hyper-local blog.)

Roundup: Veterans, Board Of Ed, Farmers’ Market …

Veterans Day was special for Christine Quinn Antal.

The 1994 Staples High School graduate and former Army lawyer, and her husband Mark, a former decorated Green Beret, formed an organization — Task Force Antal — that has helped Afghanistan allies escape the Taliban, and provided humanitarian aid to soldiers in Ukraine.

Dozens of veterans help, knowing the couple cuts through red tape and delivers what they promise quickly and efficiently.

For Veterans Day, the “Today” show produced a live segment with the couple, their daughters, and a veterans organization that honored them. Click here for that inspiring story.

Christine and Mark also participated in Bedford Middlel School’s 8th grade Veterans Day event. They spoke powerfully about their work, and inspired the youngsters in Christine’s hometown. (Hat tipis: Kerry Long, Kate Tarrant)

Christine Quinn and Mark Antal, in a screenshot from yesterday’s “Today” show.

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Everyone talks about Westport’s schools.

Here’s a chance to do so with Board of Education members.

A community forum is set for November 15 (noon to 1:30 p.m., Westport Library).

Former RTM moderator Velma Heller will facilitate a conversation, on any topics related to our local schools. It should be a very interesting dialogue.

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Just in time for the holidays, the Westport Farmers’ Market moves indoors.

Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center once again hosts the winter market. It opens November 17 and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) through March 9.

Vendors will fill 3 heated greenhouses with high-quality locally grown or raised fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, milk, baked and prepared foods, and handmade items,

The Farmers’ Market kicks off the season with a celebration. Bubble & Brew and Parlor Pizza will set up their trucks outside the greenhouses. Luke Molina will play music and Mae Farrell will entertain the kids with a nature-inspired theme.

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As Batman fans around the world mourn the death of Kevin Conroy — the character’s distinctive voice on television, in movies and video games — Staples High School graduates remember him as a classmate and friend.

The 1973 alum starred in several Staples Players productions, including “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Crucible.”

He was Sky Masterson too in “Guys and Dolls.” Opening night  was 50 years ago yesterday — the same date as last night’s premiere of the same show.

Eric Bosch sent along these photos of Kevin Conroy, from the Staples yearbook:

Kevin Conroy in “The Crucible.”

Kevin Conroy in “Romeo and Juliet.”

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Election Day was Tuesday. Votes have been cast and counted. Time for the political signs to vanish.

Most are already gone. Some still remain, though.

Westport regulations say signs must be removed within 48 hours of an event.

Today is a gorgeous day. Here’s a gentle reminder: If you put up a sign for a candidate, please head outside and take it down.

Let’s enjoy the still-lovely fall scenery without thinking of politics.

Beachside Avenue at Greens Farms Road. The Westport Library Book Sale sign is fine — it runs today through Monday.

Imperial Avenue (Photos and hat tip: John Karrel)

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Can we desegregate the suburbs?

That’s the provocative subtitle of a Zoom discussion set for Monday (November 14, 7:30 p.m.).

Sponsored by the Democratic Women of Westport, with the title “Who is My Neighbor?,” the event features Nancy Gagnier. She’s part of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, a non-profit with the goal of building a suburban community free of racial segregation in housing and community involvement.

For more information, and to access the link, email dww06880@gmail.com.

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Three years ago, “06880” honored Charlotte — the longtime Balducci’s cashier known as “Charle” — as an Unsung Hero.

The “Comments” page quickly filled with more praise for her.

Now, Susan Weingarten reports, she was recently in a very bad automobile accident. Her car was totaled.

The good news: After recuperating at her Orange home, she is back at the store. Susan encourages all Charle’s friends to stay by and say “welcome back!”

Charle, at Balducci’s.

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The Weston Police Commission’s choice of Citizen of the Year is a no-brainer.

For more than 30 years, Mark Blake served the Weston Volunteer Fire Department and Weston Volunteer Emergency Medical Services. He was also a Westport EMS supervisor. Mark died in September, after a long battle with COVID.

A ceremony is set for Monday (November 14, 6 p.m., Weston Town Hall).

Among Mark’s many contributions to public safety: Weston’s Child Passenger Safety program. It offered training on the proper use of child car seats, and seats to those who needed them.

The public — including all of Mark’s friends and admirers — are invited to the event.

Mark Blake

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Ukraine has moved off the front pages.

But the war is very real to tens of millions of people who live there. And to friends and relatives, like Tatyana Hisxon of Westport.

She’s helping organize a fundraiser (December 2, 3 p.m. Carriage Barn Arts Centr, New Canaan).

The non-political event — called “Ukraine Fast Forward” — will showcase the country’s culture, arts and sciences.

All proceeds benefit Big Dreams Children’s Foundation. Long active with orphans and youngsters with disabilities, it now is helping kids and women affected by the fighting.

Raffle prizes include a private tour of the United Nations, and works by exhibiting artists.

For more information, email Tatyanahixon@gmail.com or call 646)872-9799.

One of the raffle prizes.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” actually comes from Weston.

There’s plenty of beauty there too, as Richard Ellis’ Japanese red maple leaves shwo.

(Photo/Richard Ellis)

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And finally … in honor of Kevin Conroy (see story above):

 

 

 

Remembering Kevin Conroy

Kevin Conroy — the 1973 Staples High School graduate and former Staples Players star whose voice was the definitive Batman — died yesterday. He was 66 years old, and had battled cancer.

Conroy was Batman’s voice on the animated television series from 1992 to ’96. He continued with the character through 15 films, 400 TV episodes and 2 dozen video games.

“Kevin brought a light with him everywhere, whether in the recording booth giving it his all or feeding first-responders during 9/11 or making sure every fan who ever waited for him had a moment with their Batman,” said Paul Dini, producer of the animated show. ”A hero in every sense of the word.”

AP says:

Conroy) attended Juilliard and roomed with Robin Williams. After graduating, he toured with John Houseman’s acting group, the Acting Company. He performed in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Public Theater and in “Eastern Standard” on Broadway. At the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, he performed in “Hamlet.”

The 1980s production of “Eastern Standard,” in which Conroy played a TV producer secretly living with AIDS, had particular meaning to him. Conroy, who was gay, said at the time he was regularly attending funerals for friends who died of AIDS. He poured out his anguish nightly on stage.

In 1980, Conroy moved to Los Angeles, began acting in soap operas and booked appearances on TV series including “Cheers,” “Tour of Duty” and “Murphy Brown.” In 1991, when casting director Andrea Romano was scouting her lead actor for “Batman: The Animated Series,” she went through hundreds of auditions before Conroy came in. He was there on a friend’s recommendation — and cast immediately.

Click here for the full AP obituary.

Kevin Conroy, in 2019.

In 2016 — when the New York Times profiled Conroy — “06880” posted this story:

In the eight-decade history of Batman, no one played the Dark Knight more.

For over 20 years, the 1973 Staples High School graduate has lent his “deeply charming, yet virile voice” to 9 Batman TV series, 12 animated movies and 7 video games. No other actor has played Batman for so long, or been as closely identified with him.

Today, the New York Times finally took notice.

Kevin Conroy (Photo/Ben Esner for NY Times)

Kevin Conroy (Photo/Ben Esner for NY Times)

The Arts section features a full-length story on Conroy — who, it should be noted, is hardly a 1-trick Batman. The Juilliard alum also toured nationally with “Deathtrap,” appeared on the soap opera “Another World,” played Laertes in the New York Shakespeare Festival, acted on Broadway, and was a regular on “Ohara” and “Tour of Duty.”

But it’s as Batman he’s best known, and that’s the Times hook. Jeff Muskus writes:

He has logged the most screen time of anyone in the comic-book vigilante’s 77-year history — without ever showing his face onscreen for the role. Still, his voice, deep and resonant, has defined the character for fans who grew up with his shows, and again for those devouring his three Arkham video games.

“It’s so much fun as an actor to sink your teeth into,” Mr. Conroy, 60, said over lunch in New York’s theater district. “Calling it animation doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like mythology.”

The story notes that “school plays” — aka Staples Players — provided Conroy with a home, away from his dysfunctional family (he lived some of the time with friends).

Muskus concludes:

Unlike Batman, Mr. Conroy has managed to resolve much of his childhood trauma. First, he sought a modicum of financial stability….He saved during his stage and Los Angeles days, flipping houses on both coasts, and supported and made peace with his parents in their final years. “I was able to speak for my father at his funeral and sing for my mother at hers,” he said.

Mr. Conroy said he’s grateful for his long-running second act. “I’ve been really fortunate to have gotten Batman, because he’s a character that’s just evolved,” he said. “It’s just been a character where you can ride that wave for 24 years. Keeping him alive, keeping him from getting just dark and boring and broody, is the challenge.”

Click here to read the full New York Times story. Click here for the Times’ selection of Conroy’s standout Batman performances.

Talia And Tessa: Signs Of The Times

When Talia Moskowitz was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with apraxia — a neurological disability that prevented her from speaking.

To compensate, she learned American Sign Language.

The diagnosis was wrong. When she began talking, she had no need for ASL.

But she never forgot it. Two years ago, Talia and her good friend Tessa Cassell realized they both were fascinated watching speeches and other event being signed on TV. Tessa, in fact, had been teaching herself to sign at home.

They wondered why ASL is not taught at Staples. (A lack of certified teachers, and difficulty in grading, they learned.)

Then they had another idea: start a club.

Tessa Cassell (left) and Talia Moskowitz: friends and co-signers.

They researched ASL. They took an online course. They found an advisor: English teacher Danielle Spies.

The club fair in the fall of 2021 connected them with interested students. About 20 came regularly to meetings. The group learned the basics of sign language — and its culture too.

Tessa and Talia’s next idea was to expand to younger grades. Westport Library children’s reference librarian Di Conroy was very helpful.

A pilot program — taught by the 2 teenagers — was successful. Youngsters learned quickly, and made new friends while signing.

A new Library class started last Wednesday, and runs for 2 more sessions. “Introduction to American Sign Language, Grades 5-7” teaches the alphabet, basic words and phrases, numbers, family members, emotions, and hobbies.

“Kids love having a skill like this, that they can practice and develop,” say Talia and Tessa, who are as excited as their students.

They take the youngsters’ enthusiasm as a “sign” to keep the club, and their courses, going.