Category Archives: Staples HS

Adele Valovich’s Bench Dogs

String musicians are very protective of their hands.

Artists of large sculptures — who bang, move and weld — are not.

Adele Cutrali-Valovich (Photo/Melani Lust)

For nearly 3 decades, Adele Valovich was Staples High School’s beloved orchestra director. Since retiring 3 years ago, after 41 years in education, she’s been a sculptor.

Her pieces are gorgeous. Now — combining 3 passions (metal sculpture, golden retrievers and her garden) — she offers a new form of art to everyone who knew her as a musician.

And everyone who doesn’t.

“Bench Dogs” are beautiful pieces. The back shows the dogs’ faces; paw prints enhance the front skir.

Designed for the 4 most popular breeds — golden retriever, Lab retriever, French bulldog and German shepherd — they  are hand-crafted of 10-gauge steel. The back and bench skirt are laser cut; the marine-grade matte black powder coat finish withstands the elements.

One view of Adele Valovich’s “Bench Dog” bench …

Her customers are homeowners with beautiful gardens who love their animals. She’s contacted Earth Animal here in Westport, Black Dog on Martha’s Vineyard, to see if they’re interested.

She’d also love to have a Bench Dog in the Rose Garden, honoring President Biden’s late dog Champ. If anyone has an in with the White House, she’d be grateful for it.

(Adele Valovich offers free delivery within 100 miles of Fairfield. She will also custom design benches for breeds not listed. For more information, click here.)

… and a close-up. (Photos/Joe H. Adams)

 

Taber And Brittany Stage A Players’ Proposal

When Taber Onthank was a Staples High School sophomore, and Brittany Uomoleale was a freshman, they dated briefly.

Both were talented Players actors. They shared the stage in “Children of Eden,” “Urinetown,” “The Wiz,” “The Laramie Project” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Brittany Uomoleale and Taber Onthank, as Staples Players actors … (Photo/Kerry Long)

As they got older, their feelings for each other grew. Things got serious following — appropriately — “Romeo and Juliet.”

… and high school sweethearts.

But after graduation in 2008 Taber headed to the University of Miami, to study music. Brittany majored in theater at Michigan. They visited each other at school, and got together on breaks in Westport. Still, Taber says, “we lived our own college lives.”

Taber stayed in Miami to play music. Brittany headed to Los Angeles, to act. Though farther apart than ever, Brittany says, they grew closer.

Taber moved west. He now writes songs for other artists and ad agencies, and has a recording studio in Santa Monica.

Brittany (known professionally as Britt Baron) was on several seasons of “Glow”; a new Netflix horror film is due out this summer. She’s done voiceovers for video games, and much more.

Brittany and Taber live together. They have a dog together. They spent a lot of time together during COVID. They talked a bit about marriage — nothing definite though.

But a while ago, Taber bought a ring.

Taber Onthank and Brittany Uomoleale, today.

They get back east a couple of times a year, to visit family and friends. Before their most recent trip, Taber told Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long his idea: He’d like to propose to Brittany at Staples. On stage — “where it all began.”

The directors were thrilled.

Roth enlisted recently graduated seniors. Some will attend Michigan; many will study theater. The plan was for Brittany to talk to them about acting as a career. Then they’d go on stage, for a “group photo.”

Brittany — who, Taber says, is “very hard to surprise” — thought something was up. But when she walked into the Black Box Theater and saw a group of students, she launched into her talk.

The new alums — who were all in on the ruse — “nodded along as I gave advice,” Brittany says. Hey, they are really good actors.

Soon, she walked on stage. Taber was there — lit dramatically, thanks to recent grad Brandon Malin.

Taber — uncharacteristically nervous — proposed to Brittany. Players watched from the wings. One girl cried.

The proposal …

Neither Brittany nor Taber remember much. Both call it a “surreal, out-of-body experience.”

… and the aftermath. (Proposal photos/Kerry Long)

But it was also very, very special.

“I hadn’t been in that auditorium in years,” Brittany says. “Our lives in L.A. are very different from our lives then. That seems so long ago — but on stage, it seemed like nothing had changed. That’s where we did so much together, where we made so many good friends, and where Taber wrote and performed a song for me.”

The stage was also where — more than a decade ago — Long took what Brittany calls a “stunning” photo of the couple — as actors. They had not yet started dating.

During and after the proposal, Long again took photos. “We came full circle,” Brittany says.

She and Taber give great props to Roth and Long — and to the Players who helped make the proposal work.

“They were so sweet and cute,” Taber says. “They’d already graduated. They were done. But they came back on a summer day, to help with this.”

Staples Players, back in the day. Brittany Uomoleale and Taber Onthank are in front, 3rd and 4th from left. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The couple has not set a date for their wedding. They don’t even know which coast it will be on.

But that — like the rest of their lives together — is in the future. Right now, Brittany says, “I feel so lucky. Players gave me my career, my best friends, and now my fiance.”

Not to mention, a very cool proposal story. One they can re-en”act” for years.

Roundup: Bat Girl, Henry Wynne, Mental Health …

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Some things are worth waiting for.

For Gwen Goldman McLoughlin — the Westporter who waited 60 years to be a New York Yankees bat girl — last night was a long-deferred dream come true.

The festivities began even before the game. Tina Cervasio, Channel 5 sportscaster, tweeted this photo of a delighted Gwen, ready to play ball. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

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After a 5-hour delay Sunday night — caused by 111-degree heat in Eugene, Oregon — Henry Wynne battled for a spot on the US Olympic track and field team.

The Staples High School Class of 2013 graduate had to finish 3rd in the 1500-meter finals.

Running outside for much of the race, he surged to a 3:37.70 finish. But that was good only for 5th.

Since 2016, Wynne — one of the greatest runners in Connecticut history — has s suffered a knee injury, pneumonia, and surgery on his small intestine. He’s persevered through it all — and COVID — yet came up just short Sunday night.

Henry Wynne, in an indoor race for Staples High. (Photo courtesy of MSG Varsity)

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Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 30, 7 p.m., Westport Library), Silver Hill Hospital’s president and medical director Dr. Andrew Gerber and other experts will present a workshop to help parents learn how to talk with and support children as they try to understand tragedies.

The program is a joint effort of Westport’s Department of Human Services, the Westport Public Schools, Westport Together, and the Westport Prevention Coalition, in partnership with the Library. Click here to register to attend in person. Click here for the livestream link.

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Connecticut’s Superior Court holds remote hearings o 2 proposed settlements, between Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission and developers. These could be the final steps on the road toward construction.

The 157-unit Hiawatha Lane settlement will be discussed on July 19 (10:30 a.m.). The 68-unit Lincoln Street settlement is set for the same day, at 2:30 p.m.

Anyone interested in listening to or participating in the hearing should email abby.bowker@jud.ct.gov, or call 860-548-2851 for instructions.

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Wondering about electrical vehicle incentives and free charging opportunities?

The EV Club of Connecticut has the answers. They’ll provide them during a free virtual webinar: (July 27, 7 p.m.).

The program is co-sponsored by the Town of Westport, and Sustainable Westport. Click here to register, and for more information.

Electric vehicles lined up by the Staples charging stations (from left): Chevy Bolt, Tesla S, VW, Tesla X, Nissan Leafes,

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is black-and-white — in color:

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

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And finally … today in 2007, Apple released its first iPhone. The world has never been the same.

 

Photo Challenge #339

I whiz by the site of last Sunday’s Photo Challenge often. I never see it.

Then again, I time my Staples High School comings and goings so I’m not stuck in the early morning and/or mid-afternoon crawl through the secondary (south) entrance, on North Avenue.

That’s the narrow lane with the unmarked speed hump and the stop sign hidden by leaves.

If you wait there, you probably have time to look around. And notice the door in the fence that allows access to and from Willow Walk.

Amy Swanson, Andrew Colabella and Jonathan McClure — 3 Photo Challenge regulars — knew exactly what Seth Schachter’s shot showed. (Click here to see.)

Now the question is: Has anyone ever actually used the gate?

This week, we continue with the Seth Schachter-shots-of-wooden-fences-we-pass-every-day theme. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

Roundup: Drs. Al And Jean Beasley, Sunrise Rotary, Remarkable Mondays …

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Norwalk Hospital will dedicate 2 newly renovated pediatric emergency rooms in memory of Dr. Al Beasley and Dr. Jean Beasley.

The husband-and-wife pediatricians were beloved in Westport. Dr. Al died last year; Dr. Jean passed away from cancer in 1973.

The most recent issue of Catalyst — the magazine published by Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital’s owner —  devotes 2 pages to the Beasleys. The story notes that Al was the grandson of a Harvard-educated attorney who founded the Boston chapter of the NAACP; his father graduated from Harvard, his mother from Radcliffe. Al served 2 years as an Army reservist, the 4 years in the Air Force during the Korean War. He and Jean married while they were attending NYU Medical School.

Dr. Al Beasley was also a major benefactor of Staples Tuition Grants, in honor of Dr. Jean. (Hat tip: Burton Stuttman)

Dr. Jean Beasley and Dr. Al Beasley

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Sunrise Rotary Club sponsored a food drive collection yesterday, at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Norwalk’s great Person-to-Person organization was the beneficiary.

Sunrise Rotarians collect food. (Photo/Nick Mathias)

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Mondays are remarkable at the drive-in.

Upcoming screenings at Westport’s Remarkable Theater at the Imperial Avenue parking lot include:

  • The Breakfast Club (June 28, 8:45 p.m.)
  • Dirty Dancing (July 5, 9 p.m.)
  • Pitch Perfect (July 12, 9 p.m.)
  • Grease (July 19, 9 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

“The Breakfast Club”: still hilarious after all these years.

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John (Jackie) Laux of Jersey City died June 9 in Midvale, Utah after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He passed at home to the tune of the Grateful Dead, surrounded by his wife Marybeth, son Robert, and daughters Kristen and Molly.

Jackie and Marybeth had recently relocated to Utah to live out his lifelong dream of becoming a ski bum and being closer to his grandchildren, Devyn and Callan Laux, and Maggie and Noelle Giusti.

Jackie was an accomplished hockey player, playing goalie for Iona College. He made many lifelong friends on the ice, a tradition that continued through his final years while refereeing youth hockey in Connecticut.

Jackie also loved golf, and was a proud member of Shorehaven Club in Norwalk. Surrounded by friends, he enjoyed the fresh air, light beers and moderate exercise, then met his children by the pool to catch a swimming, diving or tennis match.

He was always excited and proud to watch (or coach) his children’s soccer, baseball and softball games, and tennis matches. As his children grew, their joint love of sports grew into family gatherings at New York Giants and Rangers games.

Jackie’s generous personality garnered him hundreds of friends around the country. He was quick to lend a helping hand or buy a drink for a friend in need of company (or just plain fun). He connected with others instantly and deeply, and leaves behind a lasting impression on all who knew him.

Due to COVID, a private memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on July 12 at Westport’s Unitarian Church, and broadcast via Zoom (click here for the link). Following the service, family and friends are invited to Penfield Pavilion in Fairfield (5 p.m.).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jackie’s name to Huntsman Cancer Institute or First Tee of Metropolitan New York.

Jackie Laux

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Staples’ spring hockey team won the Southern Connecticut Hockey League Division 3 Spring hockey championship, thumping North Branford 7-0 in the finals. Incoming captains Andrew Gebicki, Jason Wolgast and Cole Feinleib led the team.

Staples: spring league champs.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features a bee. It’s gorgeous — but the bee is also hard at work.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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And finally … Happy Industrial Workers of the World Day!

 

Now Bat Girling For The New York Yankees: Gwen Goldman!

In 1961, Gwen Goldman was a 10-year-old girl living on Green Acre Lane. She wrote the New York Yankees, asking to be a bat girl.

On June 23 — exactly 60 years and 4 days ago — general manager Roy Haney replied.

He thanked her for her letter. But, he said:

While we agree with you that girls are certainly as capable of boys, and no dobut would be an attractive addition to the playing field, I am sure you can understand that in a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout.

I don’t know how Haney was so sure Gwen would “understand.” But she overcame her disappointment — and, probably, many other gender-based barriers — and went on to spend more than 30 years as a social worker.

Now married, Gwen Goldman McLoughlin retired in 2017 from Stepping Stones Preschool. She was highly regarded by her Westport Public Schools colleagues.

The other day, Gwen got another letter from the Yankees.

This came from the general manager too — the current one. Dated June 23, 2021 — exactly 60 years to the day after his predecessor’s — Brian Cashman noted that he was born 6 years after Haney had written.

But, Cashman said:

Here at the Yankees, we have championed to break down gender barriers in our industry. It is an ongoing commitment rooted in the belief that a woman belongs everywhere a man does, including the dugout. And despite the fact that 6 decades have passed since you first aspired to hold down the position as a New York Yankees Bat Girl, it is not too late to reward and recognize the ambition you showed in writing that letter to us as a 10-year-old girl.

So — noting that he has a daughter himself, and acknowledging that “some dreams take longer than they should to be realized” — Cashman invited Goldman to be the Yankees’ “honorary bat girl for the day” for tomorrow’s (Monday) game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Goldman — whose daughter Abby had sent Haney’s letter to Cashman — was both stunned and thrilled by the invitation.

“It is my honor and my dream,” she said. “I will be there!”

Gwen Goldman McLoughlin gets the news she’ll be Yankees’ bat girl.

She’s not the only one excited by the honor. Pitcher Gerrit Cole says, “I only get to play 32 games a year. So the other 130, I’m working the dugout. I can show you all the sneaky routes and quick ways to get in, when you have to give the balls to the umpire, where you keep the bats in case their broken. I can help you out with the flow.”

Goldman’s star turn is the first for the Yanks’ HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week. For 12 years, the program has highlighted inspiring individual stories.

Speaking of inspiring: Click below for a great tweet from the Yankees.

EXTRA INNINGS: Because this is “06880” — “Where Westport meets the world” — there’s one more local connection to this story. I first heard about it from Julia Schorr, the team’s social media coordinator.

A lifelong Westporter, Julia graduated from Staples High School in 2016.

Roundup: Sunday Beach Service, Henry Wynne, Cannons …

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Summer Sunday beach services return tomorrow (June 27).

All season long, parishioners and clergy from 4 Congregational churches (Saugatuck, Greens Farms Congregational, Norfield and Wilton), plus United Methodist Church, gather on Sundays at 8:30 a.m., at Compo Beach near the cannons.

It’s BYOC (bring your own chair). You don’t need a beach sticker — just tell the gate attendant you’re attending the service. Dress code is casual; flip-flops and nice shorts are fine. (Hat tip: Karen Como)

Sunday morning service at Compo Beach. (Photo courtesy of Saugatuck Congregational Church)

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Henry Wynne stumbled in the Olympic Trials 1500 meter race. But the 2013 Staples High School and 2017 University of Virginia graduate — now sponsored by Brooks Running — qualified for the finals nonetheless.

The big race is tomorrow (Sunday, June 27, 7:40 p.m. EDT). NBC Sports airs it live. Westporters will be tuning it, to watch Henry reach his Tokyo dreams.

Henry Wynne (Photo/Will Hoffman for Runner’s World)

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Every 2 years, Art Committee members conduct a town- and school-wide inventory of every object in the Westport Public Art Collections.

This year is the most comprehensive yet. They’re not only updating locations, but also measuring every object in the database and cared for by the town.

Including the Compo Beach cannons!

(From left) Eve Potts and her sister Marion Morra take the measure of the Compo cannons. (Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Can guess the width, length and depth of the entire monument? Click “Comments: below.

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Aspetuck Land Trust is about to get more land.

On July 1, the non-profit organization — currently focused on Westport, Weston, Easton and Fairfield — merges with the Monroe Land Trust and Tree Conservancy.

That adds another 20 acres to ALT. They will own or manage more than 2,000 acres of conserved land, with a total membership of over 1,700 people.

Land trusts preserve land through purchase, conservation easements or donations of property. Preserved properties are important habitats for plants and wildlife. They protect water quality, agricultural land, and scenic and historic places. For more information, click here.

Aspetuck River, at the Newman-Poses Preserve (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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The Planning & Zoning Commission has some interesting proposals to consider.

On Wednesday (June 30, 12 noon), the Regulation Review Subcommittee will discuss possible changes related to improved recreational opportunities and amenities, to complement the Senior Center.

They’ll also talk about expanded outdoor dining regulation impacts, in consideration of creating more permanent rules. Click here for more information.

On July 8 (6 p.m.), they’ll review a text amendment and application to redevelop 1460 Post Road East — the current site of Julian’s Pizza, BevMax and more — to accommodate a new medical office tenant. The existing medical marijuana dispensary would remain. Click here for more information.

1460 Post Road East. Rio Bravo restaurant closed last summer.

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Tomorrow (Sunday, June 27) is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. To raise awareness, Westport’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 399 is supporting a 10-mile march.

It begins at 8:30 a.m. at Darien VFW Post 6933, and ends at the Westport VFW Post on Riverside Avenue. Click here to donate.

VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

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This week’s #FridayFlowers project has special resonance for the Westport Garden Club.

Their latest work, at the Nevada Hitchcock Park on the corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road, includes perennials from members’ gardens. The flowers promote pollination — and the park commemorates Nevada Hitchcock, a founding member of the club.

#FridayFlowers at Nevada Hitchcock Park.

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“The Breakfast Club” is the quintessential high school film. More than 35 years after its release, it still nails the experience.

Of course, some things have changed since 1985. You can learn how on Monday. The classic movie is Monday’s (June 28, 8:45 p.m.) Remarkable Theater feature. It will be preceded by a short video starring 12 graduates from Staples High School’s Class of 2021. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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On Thursday, MoCA Westport hosted a reception for its summer exhibitions: “Love Wins” (a mural created in conjunction with Westport Pride), “Unfit for Print” (including Staples High School graduate Noah Fox), and “Élan Vital” (with the works of 11 artists selected by Staples alum Max Teicher and Emily White). Works of the Congressional Art Competition are also on view.

The exhibitions run through August 21. Click here for details.

Noah Fox, with his work. (Photo/Maddy Martin)

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There are 3 days left in Pride Month. And 3 days left to buy Pride products, like hoodies and coffee cups, from Finding Westport.

10% of all proceeds are donated to Westport Pride. Click here to see what’s available, and order.

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Happy 1st anniversary to Don Memo!

Owner Bill Taibe took a risk — opening a new restaurant in the midst of a pandemic — but it’s paid off. His fun, creative take on Mexican fare packs in crowds every night next to Barnes & Noble. (Or, as much older Westporters remember it, in “the old Town Hall”).

There’s plenty of room for outdoor dining. Plenty of music. And plenty of great food!

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Lauri Weiser calls today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo “Lurking in the Grasses.” How much wildlife can you spot?

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … happy 78th birthday to the great British jazz/rock/R&B musician Georgie Fame. He’s still performing, with the likes of Van Morrison, Bill Wyman and Alan Price.

He’s probably best known for his “Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.” But my favorite is this 1964 classic, “Yeh Yeh”:

PS: Yeh, yeh, it’s hard to hear the lyrics. Here you go:

Every evening, when all my day’s work is through
I call my baby, and ask her what shall we do
I mention movies, but she don’t seem to dig that
And then she asks me, why don’t I come to her flat
And have some supper and let the evening pass by
By playing records besides a groovy hi-fi
I say yeh yeh, and that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh

My baby loves me, she gets a feeling so fine
And when she love me, she makes me know that she’s mine
And when she kisses, I feel the fire get hot
She never misses, she gives it all that she’s got
And when she asks me if everything is okay
I got my answer, the only thing I can say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh

We’ll play a melody and
Turn the lights down low so that none can see
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
And there’ll be no one else alive
In all the world ‘cept you and me
Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh
Yeh yeh, yeh yeh

Pretty baby, I never knew such a thrill
Just thought I’d tell you, because I’m trembling still
But pretty baby, I want you all for my own
I think I’m ready to leave those others alone
Don’t need to ask me if everything is OK
I got my answer, the only thing I can say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh

We’ll play a melody and
Turn the lights down low so that none can see
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
And there’ll be no one else alive
In all the world ‘cept you and me
Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh yeh, yeh yeh

Oh pretty baby, I never knew such a thrill
Just thought I’d tell you, because I’m trembling still
But pretty baby, I want you all for my own
I think I’m ready to leave those others alone
Don’t need to ask me if everything is okay
I got my answer, the only thing I can say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh
That’s what I say, I say yeh yeh
That’s what I say, I say yeh yeh
That’s what I say, yeah

Jeff Scher’s Very, Very, Very Fine Video

Westporters of a certain age remember Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Our House.”

It’s a very, very, very hummable song about a “very, very, very fine house.”

It’s also 50 years old.

To celebrate the golden anniversary of its golden oldie album, “Déjà Vu” — and, of course, to promote a deluxe re-release of the original, complete with demos, outtakes, alternate takes and perhaps flowers in the vase you bought today —  Warner Music commissioned Jeff Scher to create an animated version.

He was a Staples High School sophomore when “Our House” floated onto record players across America. Now he’s a filmmaker/animator, working in a Cross Highway studio a few steps from his house.

Which, interestingly, is now the house of “Our House.”

Scher says:

Graham Nash wrote the song for Joni Mitchell in 1969. The house was her Laurel Canyon home where they lived at the time.

While it’s a very fine house, it didn’t quite fit the needs of animation, which was to read instantly as a kind of icon for anybody’s house. So after a dozen attempts, I realized that our house could be that house.

What could be more universal than a Federal style farmhouse? And the minute I started cutting it out, it felt right.

Jeff Scher has created a very, very, very fine video.

To go along with his — well, you know — house.

BONUS CUT: The video was animated by hand using cut paper, on black felt under a camera with a traditional animation stand. The style of cut paper was inspired by former Weston graphic designer Paul Rand, who often used it in his work.

SMORES: Staples Students Help Seniors Tackle Technology

The reopening of the Senior Center on July 1 is good news for hundreds of Westporters. For over 15 months they have missed the classes, lectures and social events that were so meaningful and fun.

It’s good news too for all those seniors who need help learning a new electronic device, figuring out how to Zoom, or otherwise coping with the digital world.

Before the pandemic, they got help in person from teenagers. A dozen Staples High School students were part of SMORES (Social Media Outreach Educators), a group started by Jake Motyl.

SMORES members and their “students,” at the Senior Center before the pandemic.

The coronavirus forced them all online. It was not easy teaching someone unfamiliar with a tablet or phone how to use it remotely, but both the teens and their “students” persevered.

Earlier this month, Jake graduated from Staples. This fall, he heads to the University of Southern California.

But SMORES is stronger than ever. The new leader is his sister, rising junior Caroline Motyl.

She’s been Jake’s vice president since freshman year. She shares his enthusiasm for helping older Westporters. In fact, it’s one of her passions.

Caroline Motyl

“I’m pretty active in social justice — racism, sexism, environmentalism,” she says. “But people don’t usually talk about ageism. A lot of people look down on older people. They think they’re not in touch.”

Caroline admits that she’s sometimes guilty herself. “When my mom can’t post on Instagram, I’m like, ‘Come on!’ She says, ‘I didn’t grow up with this. You did.’ I’m trying really hard to prevent myself and others from being like that.”

Through SMORES, Caroline has learned to look at perspectives different from her own. “It’s so easy for me to use a cellphone. My generation does it so fast. We do everything fast. But that’s not the case for older generations. They do things more slowly.”

The importance of “non-digital natives” navigating the complex universe of devices, social media, printers and routers was driven home last Thanksgiving. Caroline helped a woman set up her iPad, so she could Zoom with family members.

“That’s such an important holiday. It meant so much to her to be together, even just on Zoom,” Caroline says.

She looks forward to helping, live, again. “I thought online school was hard. But trying to help someone use a phone while actually n the phone was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I couldn’t point to something, or touch the screen. But it’s so important for them to feel connected. Somehow we did it.”

In 8th grade science class, Caroline had to write detailed instructions on how she made a Lego structure. This year, she hopes to use that concept to create step-by-step instructions for some of the most frequently asked questions.

“So many other countries treat older people with the utmost respect,” Caroline notes. “Our country does not treat them as we should.”

She and her fellow SMORES members are trying to change that. One cellphone, tablet and laptop at a time.

(For more information or help, text Caroline at 203-644-7749, or call the Senior Center: 203-341-5099.)

How Staples’ Garden Grows

There’s a lot of space in front of Staples High School.

There’s room for dozens of buses. For hundreds of students to enter the building at once.

And room for a brand new garden.

The area in front of the art department — on the left side, facing the entrance — has been transformed into a beautiful, friendly and ecologically important space.

Members of the Science National Honor Society and Club Green spent a Saturday last month weeding, and planting native plants donated by Aspetuck Land Trust.

The garden is part of the Pollinator Pathways Project. Begun in 2017, the goal is to  establish pollinator-friendly habitat and food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinating insects and wildlife along a series of continuous corridors.

The project was led by Teagan Smith — a recently graduated senior, and longtime super Wakeman Town Farm volunteer, with guidance from Alice Ely, WTF gardens chair and science teacher Cecilia Duffy.

The next time you’re at Staples, check it out. Then thank Teagan and fellow students Charlotte Barnes, Olivia Bernard, Tanvi Gorre, Christina Meehan and Ashley Sarelli.

Staples science teacher Cecilia Duffy spotted her first monarch caterpillar of the year, on a common milkweed. It was just a couple days old. (Photos/Cecilia Duffy)