Category Archives: Teenagers

Unsung Heroes #149

Alert — and impressed — “06880” reader Melissa Waters writes:

Heroes come in varying degrees of nobility, courage and honor.

Though perhaps not “heroes” in the true definition of the word, as we near the end of the school year I’d like to nominate each and every one of the children in Westport.

They learned online since mid-March. Yet not only did these kids navigate a new way of education; they also learned a new way to navigate friendships, club activities, music lessons, and so much more.

Staples’ High School’s “We the People” team prepared for their national competition via Zoom. And they prepared well: They finished 5th in the US!

We asked them to pivot – and pivot quickly – to a “temporary” normal. So much of their daily life – and daily happiness – was canceled: play dates, sports, theater shows, field days, proms, moving up and graduation ceremonies, and more.

While I don’t know every kid in town, and it hasn’t been easy for some I’m sure, I’m guessing they all, in their own way, rose to the challenge and did the very best they could during this crazy time. I know I couldn’t have done what they’ve done.

So to all you students – especially our high school seniors – kudos!

Thank you for all the card games, the dishes you put into the dishwasher, the extra dog walks, the crazy hair lengths, your morning smiles, your evening silliness, and the hard work you’ve done online and as part of your families.

Now it’s time for you to enjoy the summer!

This would be a welcome sight.

Despite Pandemic, WTF Interns Pursue Projects

The usual hum of activity at Wakeman Town Farm has been curtailed by COVID-19.

Classes, visits, parties — all are on hold. So was Staples High School’s internship program, which usually supplies a number of seniors each spring to work on the farm.

When school closed in mid-March, intern coordinators Michelle Howard and Denise Pearl redesigned the program. Most activities took place off-site.

Yesterday, a small group of WTF committee members recognized the work of their interns for rising to the challenge, and going “above and beyond” on their projects. Each received a WTF cap, and shared the results of their work.

Jessica Plotkin worked with animal chair Anne Burmeister to create something on WTF’s wish list for years: permanent, engaging informational signage about the animals.

Jessica Plotkin

After surveying zoos and other animal facilities, researching all 7 species of animals at the farm and interviewing WTF honeybee keeper Jaime Smith, Jessica created a unique design. Her signs provide interesting, fun information about each animal’s origin, diet, anatomy and role on the farm.

She also took photos for social media posts about the animals and her research.

Jessica’s bee signage.

Tallula Goldberg and Ben Spector, guided by gardens chair Alice Ely, researched Westport’s worst weeds. As part of their work they removed bags of invasives at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum and Earthplace, and surveyed invasives at other open spaces around town.

They created a handbook for Westport’s homeowners, including how to spot and remove the worst offenders on their properties (click here to download). It includes Tallula’s original illustrations.

Ben Spector and Tallula Goldberg.

Their guide will be featured in a WTF talk on Monday, July 6 (7 p.m.) Check here soon for details.

Summer Camp: COVID Causes Closings

As a summer camp director, Jem Sollinger’s biggest concern is always safety: that of his 500 boys and girls from 2nd through 10th grade, and 300 staff members from around the world.

That usually means preventing accidents, patrolling the waterfront, and stifling colds and impetigo.

This year it meant confronting a global pandemic. And addressing scenarios, questions and fears he’d never considered in his lifelong association with Camp Laurel.

Sollinger — a 1988 Staples High School graduate and varsity soccer player at Union College — was a Laurel camper himself.

Now he and his wife Debbie run the Maine camp. It has a strong local presence. A few dozen Westport and Weston youngsters attend Laurel each year. The office in Brooks Corner has a staff of 6.

Jem and Debbie Sollinger

Sollinger is a staunch believer in the power of summer camp. It’s a place where “kids can be kids. They develop independence, try new things, take safe risks, learn to succeed, and build a sense of self.”

With its balance of athletics, arts, activities and travel opportunities, Laurel — and many other camps like it — offer young people a chance to grow, and a respite from the academic and social pressures they face the other 10 months of the year.

As idyllic as it is for campers, it’s a whirlwind for a director. After spending the off-season meeting new families, hiring staff, developing programs and dealing with issues like insurance and regulations, Sollinger and his staff spend 7 weeks entrusted with the care and safety of hundreds of campers (and young counselors).

“Even on the most wonderful, sunny summer day, there’s incredible pressure,” Sollinger says. “We plan as much as we can, all year long, for every kind of emergency and contingency. Our biggest concern is the physical and emotional safety of everyone at camp. Until we get every last kid on the bus, and home to their parents, everything else is secondary to that.”

On Thursday, March 12 — the day after Westport schools closed — Sollinger looked out his Brooks Corner window. The parking lot was empty. Main Street was abandoned. Still, he admits, he did not yet grasp the magnitude of the coronavirus crisis.

But as the rest of America shut down too — including Broadway, the NCAA basketball tournament and more — he realized there might be an impact on camp.

Sollinger’s brother and father-in-law are both pediatricians. They’re “non-alarmists,” the director says. But both told him: “This is serious.”

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said, “density is not our friend.” Summer camp, Sollinger knows, epitomizes communal living.

Safety is always a high priority. But camp, by nature, brings people close together.

As he spoke with his leadership team, directors of other camps, and officials with the American Camping Association, Sollinger understood how much was unknown about COVID-19.

And he wondered what those unknowns meant for this coming summer.

The CDC, ACA and state of Maine all had different interpretations of social distancing. But how could that happen at camp?

One suggestion was keeping campers in separate “pods,” with no intermingling. But Laurel thrives on all-camp traditions like campfires, theater productions and barbecues.

Campers from one bunk mix with others at electives. They take out-of-camp trips, and have sports competitions with other camps. Staff leave camp on days off; parents, grandparents and siblings arrive on Visiting Day.

Electives are an important part of a camp like Laurel.

There were perils all around.

“Kids can be less impacted than adults,” Sollinger says. “But what if there was an outbreak? We’d have to quarantine, with everyone having separate bathrooms. If we had to evacuate, how could we do that?”

He even considered his own social distancing. “I high-five kids when they come off the bus. I give hugs and fist bumps. We wouldn’t even be able to do that.”

Like many camp directors, Jem Sollinger is a hugger.

There were intangible issues too.

“We’ve developed wonderful relationships with families. It’s all built on trust,” the director notes.

“If we opened, they’d trust us. They’d say, ‘It’s okay. Laurel’s got it.’ But we didn’t have it. They would follow us, but I wasn’t sure where we were going.”

Sollinger and his team explored a variety of options, including a delayed opening, shortened season and “bubbles,” all accompanied by efficient, accurate testing. Nothing seemed realistic.

As spring wore on, “quarantine fever” kicked in across the country. “Everyone loves camp, wherever they and their kids go to camp,” Sollinger says. “As more and more programs and things got canceled, camp became the one thing everyone hung on to. Everyone wanted camp to continue.”

But, he adds, “wanting, hoping and needing is not a strategic plan. Camp needs to be safe.”

Camp Laurel is in rural Maine. But it’s not isolated from the real world.

On May 18, Sollinger and his wife sent an email to Laurel families. It began:

The decision whether to operate Camp Laurel this summer has been driven by finding a clear and realistic path to safety for our entire camp community. With the many unknowns related to COVID-19 and the operational restrictions established by the American Camp Association, we are unable to find this safe path.

With great sadness, we have decided to cancel the 2020 season.

We value tremendously the trust you have placed in us and our decision was dictated by a deep sense of responsibility. It’s the most difficult decision we’ve had to make as camp directors, and the idea of upsetting our camp family has been heart-wrenching.

The Sollingers gave families the option of rolling over their payment to 2021, or a full refund.

The reaction was very supportive. Sollinger calls it “a combination of disappointment, understanding, and compassion for Debbie and me.”

It’s been a strange spring for everyone. But the months ahead will feel especially strange to Sollinger. In his long camping career, he has never been in Westport in June.

He won’t be here long. Soon he, Debbie and their 3 daughters head north. They’ll spend the summer at Camp Laurel in Maine, with their leadership team.

Jem and Debbie Sollinger, and their daughters.

There’s a facility to take care of. There are social media photos and posts to send to families.

And a summer camp season — next year’s — to look forward to.

“We’ll weather the storm,” Sollinger promises. “And we’ll come back, stronger than ever.”

AJ Konstanty Keys Staples Awards List

“06880” has never covered Staples High School’s annual awards ceremony before. I’ve figured: The folks who care, go. The others don’t.

But there was no live ceremony this year — one more casualty of COVID, along with internships, prom and graduation. So it’s time to give the honorees of the Class of 2020 their due.

AJ Konstanty

AJ Konstanty won the Staples Key — the school’s highest award. recognizing superior academic achievement, loyalty to Staples and contributions to the Staples community. Candidates are chosen by the faculty; seniors select the winner.

AJ — a multi-sport athlete, singer, and fundraising chair of Best Buddies — enriched the school in many ways. As a sophomore he met a student from Ghana, who arrived in the middle of the school year from another country, and struggled with multiple disabilities. They forged a friendship that went beyond the school day.

AJ is described as “a happy, kind, personable (and) modern Renaissance man. He can do it all, and make it seem effortless.”

Audrey Bernstein

Two years ago, Staples Key finalist Audrey Bernstein was shaken by the Parkland shootings. Inspired after meeting survivors, she helped organize Staples’ student walkout.

She co-founded Students Stand Up (an anti-gun violence group), and was the Westport lead for Students Demand Action.

Besides her activism, she served as co-editor of the school newspaper Inklings.

Natasha Johnson

As a sophomore, Staples Key finalist Natasha Johnson created a club to promote greater diversity in books offered as part of the English curriculum.

Then — realizing they could do even more — Natasha and her club changed the charter, to create a safe space for anyone interested in diversity to discuss, learn and teach.

She also mentors a group of middle school girls from Bridgeport.

The James Bacharach Service to Community Award — for leadership and service to Westport — went to Kayla Dockray.

The Young American Award, presented to a senior who demonstrates academic excellence, love of country and strong leadership qualities, went to Colin Corneck. He leaves soon for the US Naval Academy.

The Peter Weisman Memorial Awards, for hard work and academic achievement, was presented to Michael Guanalouisa.

The Fairfield County Community Foundation awarded 3 scholarships. The Excellence in Scholarship Award went to Max Pace, “a self-starter with an incredibly ambitious nature and creative mind.”

The Charles A. Dana Cultural Scholarship Award was given to Victoria Caiati, described as “naturally creative and talented,” with a passion for fashion design.

The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation Scholarship went to Katherine Meszaros, who demonstrated a “positive attitude, tenacity, diligence and a strong work ethic.”

Guiding Principles Awards go to students who enrich and bring joy to classrooms, demonstrating the key ideals of the district. The 2 senior recipients were Kalina Kinyon and Bennet Staffa.

Principal’s Awards are presented to seniors who have demonstrated a superior ability to act as responsible members of the Staples community. This year they went to Tamikah Boyer, Cordelia Chen, Michael Farnen, Kathryn Enquist, Annamaria Fernandez, Grace Kennedy, Maximus Pace, Benjamin Schussheim, Jake Thaw and Caroline Vandis.

Congratulations to all awardees. Now go out and change the world!

To see all the senior awards — for academic and other achievements — click here. Principal Stafford Thomas does the honors.

A Tribute To Staples’ Class Of 2020

I can’t imagine what it’s like being a Staples High School senior today.

This should have been such a memorable spring.

There should have been a prom, the High Honors and Scholar-Athlete dinners, Awards Night.

After 12 1/2 years of school there should have been the joy of winding down. There should have been days of congratulations from teachers on college acceptances, nights hanging with friends, weekends at the beach, on boats and by pools.

After 4 weeks of internships in real workplaces that help you feel confident for whatever lies ahead, you should have come together one final time as a class. You should have enjoyed a warm, loving baccalaureate ceremony in the auditorium, a hot but happy graduation in the fieldhouse, and an endless round of parties all over town.

Instead — randomly, instantly, through absolutely no fault of your own — you lost all that.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Some athletes lost a chance to play for a state championship; others lost a chance to play at all. Actors and tech crews lost an opportunity to present their final show, just hours before the opening curtain. Musicians lost the chance to shine, first in the auditorium, then in the Levitt Pavilion before a jam-packed townwide audience. The state champion “We the People” team lost the reward — and excitement — of traveling to Washington, DC for the national competition.

All of that is gone. In its place, you’ve spent nearly 3 months in a world no one recognizes. Everywhere you felt at home — Staples, athletic fields, Wakeman Town Farm, the library, restaurants, Earthplace, Starbucks — was shut.

It’s been quite a time for first-year Staples principal Stafford Thomas. On Thursday, he says goodbye to his first class of graduates.

The last place you wanted to be in your final months as a senior — home — was where you spent nearly all your time. Your teachers and classmates were reduced to boxes on a computer screen. Your friends became mere FaceTime faces.

You — the seniors of Staples High School — are collateral damage, in a pandemic you played no part in creating, but cannot escape.

And you never will. For the rest of your lives, the Class of 2020 will be known as “The COVID Class.”

You’ve got your caps and gowns — you picked them up recently alone, wearing masks and at a proper social distance. A few days from now, you’ll graduate  — coronavirus-style. Perhaps you’ll toss your mortarboard in the air, as your parents and siblings watch. It will be one final, poignant reminder of all that you’ve lost.

But my hat is off to you.

I don’t know how I would have reacted, if a crisis like this struck when I was at Staples. But I am sure I would not have shown the maturity, the grace, the compassion and the class that the Class of 2020 has shown.

When school closed on March 11 — and when the initial 2-week shutdown stretched to mid-April, then all the way through June — I feared what was to come.

I wondered how bitter the seniors would be. I braced for complaints large and small, justified and not. I prepared myself for the worst.

My bad. I’ve known you seniors for 4 years. I should have expected more.

You’ve been asked to make big sacrifices. You’re not in a high risk group for this disease, but you understand that staying safe is not just about you — it’s about your parents, grandparents, and those with health concerns you may or may not know about. You get it. Without complaint, you’ve made those sacrifices.

With the usual arts, sports and extra-curriculars gone, you turned to new activities. You made masks, ran errands for those who could not venture out, and donated food to the hungry. You collected supplies for the needy, raised funds for worthy causes, and made meals for frontline workers.

Helping out, at the Gillespie Center.

If you’re on WWPT, you kept your radio station going. If you’re in Staples Players, you put on a virtual show. If you’re in the “We the People” class, you redoubled your efforts (and finished 5th in the nation).

You not only adapted to “distance learning,” you helped your teachers help others. Then you warmed those teachers’ hearts, by thanking them often for all they did.

Forced to spend time with your siblings, you became role models — true big brothers and sisters — even more than you’d been before. You helped your parents too. Who knew you could cook, garden and paint houses so well?

With unexpected time on your hands, you filled it in ways that surprised even yourselves. You learned to play guitar, speak a new language, sew. You read actual books.

I’ve always been a supporter of Westport’s teenagers. I’ve seen far more of your good sides than bad. Over the years, I’ve tried to highlight your accomplishments. I don’t lack for stories.

For the past 3 months though, you — the senior class — have not acted like teenagers. You’ve acted like mature, responsible Westporters — great, wonderful, contributing members of our community. That why it’s especially sad we cannot give you the graduation ceremony you deserve.

In fact, ever since the pandemic began you have given us something.

You’ve given us hope.

The world is a mess right now. Our country is even messier. We need you — the Class of 2020 — desperately.

As you move into an uncertain future, please keep doing what you’ve already done so well. Please look outside yourselves. Please lend a hand to anyone — next door, in your neighborhood, anywhere in Westport or Connecticut or the country or planet — who needs it. Please use your brains and talents and hearts to clean up the mess we’ve given you.

The Class of 2020 — the COVID Class — has already made history. Now you’ve got the rest of your lives to rewrite it.

 

High Honors For Staples Grads

It’s one of Staples High School’s many traditions: Every year, High Honors graduates — the top 4% of the senior class — are celebrated at a dinner.

But this is not your typical snooze-fest. Each honoree is asked to select one teacher to speak on his or her behalf. Each instructor has just a couple of minutes. But in that time they manage to be insightful, poignant, funny and real.

Taken individually, the short speeches give a quick portrait of some of Staples’ highest-achieving students. Taken together, they paint a wonderful canvas of a very diverse class.

This year’s High Honors dinner fell victim to COVID-19. But — showing a resourcefulness worthy of these 19 very bright young men and women — assistant principal for the senior class Meghan Ward helped organize a virtual ceremony.

Each honoree and teacher came to Staples last month. Alone, they were taped by Jim Honeycutt. The former media instructor then stitched everything together, in a video.

It was a shame that the evening could not take place in real time. The good news is: Because it did not, now every “06880” reader can honor our High Honors grads.

The video is posted in two formats: YouTube (below) and Vimeo. Clicking here for the Vimeo link enables you to download it and save; just scroll to the bottom of the Vimeo page.

Winslow Park Plea: Dirt Bikers, Clean Up After Yourselves!

Deb Howland-Murray calls herself “a portrait artist who benefited tremendously from growing up in Westport’s artistic environment. After a sojourn for college and adventures, I returned to Westport. I have lived here for the past 35 years.” 

She writes:

Each spring people pour out of their houses and into nature, shedding months of cold the way a snake sheds its skin.

This year brings new significance to this outdoor migration: a heightened longing for beauty and distraction in the spring of COVID-19.

Maybe that’s why so many people flock to Winslow Park. They come not only to walk dogs, but to enjoy its 28 acres of sunny fields and dense woods. They are parents with children riding scooters and bikes, joggers, couples sitting in conversation on the park’s benches, and teenagers anxious to try their skills on the dirt bike jumps in one of the forested, trail-laced sections of the park.

The Winslow Park dirt bike course. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Winslow is a treasure. Now more than ever, it’s a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively. I’ve watched it come to life this spring, delighted in April’s little purple flowers, the massive trees leafing out in May, the fields that now read yellow with buttercups.

These are such a sharp contrast to the trash, broken glass and empty vape boxes carpeting the dirt bike section of the park.

Vape boxes litter the dirt bike area. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

I like to watch the teenagers barreling down the course’s steep hill and becoming airborne on the ascent. But it saddens me that the fun is coupled with such disrespect for the surrounding environment, one that’s dotted with wonderful examples of human creativity as well as natural beauty.

The dirt bike course was created by enterprising teenagers, and adjacent to it there is a remarkable lean-to someone made from large branches. Next to the lean-to, a picnic table waits invitingly in the shade. I’ve seen people meditating there.

But who would want to stop there now? Who could bring their small children to play among the empty cans and vape boxes? Which paw will be the first to be sliced by glass shards? When will an unknowing puppy be drawn to the scent of food on a snack wrapper and make the unfortunate mistake of swallowing it?

Trash left on tables. The lean-to is in the back. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Don’t get me wrong. I love teenagers; I raised 5 of them. An avid skier and hunter-jumper rider, I’m all for the excitement of speed and the joy of flying through the air. I want the kids to have fun in the park. They seem like good kids, wearing their helmets and respectfully keeping a physical distance when they meet others on the trails. They’re polite.

I’m happy that they have a safe, outdoor place to congregate in small numbers at such a difficult and disappointing time to be a teenager. And I’m not interested in passing judgment on what they might or might not be drinking or smoking. That’s up to their parents.

But speaking directly to you, young people: Nature is not your trash can. The park is there for all to enjoy. Now especially, we need to add what we can to each other’s enjoyment.

The Winslow Park lean-to. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Please, kiddos: Create whatever mess you want in your rooms – I certainly did. Just bring a bag with you to the park, collect your garbage and drop it in the trash cans when you exit.

We dog owners do the same. Believe me, collecting your garbage is not nearly as gross as what we are collecting and ferrying to those cans! But what if we didn’t? What if the area you enjoy was full of the kind of waste no one wants to step in?

So, c’mon. Litter-ally, place your drop in the massive bucket of consideration we need right now. It’s not too much to ask.

COVID Roundup: No Camp Compo Or RECing Crew; Antibodies And Masks; More


One more casualty of COVID-19: Westport Parks & Recreation’s long-running, popular Camp Compo and RECing Crew programs.

Parks & Rec director Jen Fava says:

“Due to the many restrictions placed upon camps by the state, the limited number of children that could be served, limitations of our facilities, the challenge of social distancing, and the new unknowns related to Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, we are concerned about our ability to provide these programs in a safe manner. Additionally, they would not be the camp experiences that our campers and parents have come to expect.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe adds, “This was not an easy decision to make, but after consulting with staff and the Westport Weston Health District, we believe this is the right decision for our specific programs.  The health and safety of our participants and staff, and the larger community, is our foremost concern. In light of that and the uncertainties related to the Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, there was too much health risk as it pertains to these programs.”

Other Parks & Rec summer programs are being evaluated and restructured to meet requirements. Information will be provided as soon as they are finalized.


This weekend on Hillspoint Road, Peter Maloney asked a 40-something woman to please use a mask as she walked near him.

“Not a problem! I have the antibodies,” she chirped.

Of course, Peter — and most Westporters — don’t have “the antibodies.”

Earth to woman: It’s not always about you.


And finally … the holiday’s over. Back to work (from home)!

Quaranteen: Young Voices Heard, In Challenging Times

Tori Seiden’s COVID story begins: “It’s been 86 days since I’ve seen my boyfriend.”

She’s a gifted writer. Clearly, calmly, she describes their “long distance during social distancing” relationship. The couple — in their early 20s — go on “virtual dates.” They paint, cook, watch movies, work out, meditate, write journals, learn Spanish and design a dream Minecraft house together, though hundreds of miles apart.

Tori says the experience has taught them a lot about themselves, and each other. It’s brought them closer. They realize if they can get through this, they can surmount any obstacle.

“Of course I want to see my boyfriend,” Tori writes. “But we recognize it isn’t safe right now. So we do our best every day to make the best of things.”

It’s a mature, insightful perspective — and not the kind of story you read every day.

Most coronavirus coverage focuses on case numbers, testing, nursing homes, the economy, parenting, politics, and reopening states. They’re important parts of the pandemic picture, sure.

But what’s missing are young voices.

The Quaranteen Collection fills that void.

The crisply designed, well-written website aims to foster empathy and community — and empower — teens and young adults. Filled with stories of loss, hope, struggle, strength and growth, it’s an outlet for both self-reflection and connection with others.

Quaranteen is a safe, honest space, positive and uplifting despite the harrowing circumstances. Topics range from the impact of distance learning on special education (the writer’s brother is autistic) and the importance of self-care, to the emotions of going back to college — after weeks in isolation — to pack up a dorm room, and leave for good.

One student wrote about the transition back from college dorm life to her childhood home.

“Writing is a powerful tool that offers solace for both reader and writer,” the Quaranateen founders tell teens and 20-somethings. “In these uncertain times, your voice can make a difference in someone’s day and be a source of meaning for yourself. Share your story today; be the hope of tomorrow.”

Besides looking for young Westport writers (click here), the site has a local connection. This spring, a freshman took a writing course that showed him the cathartic power of communication. His professor grew up in Westport.

As his college closed in mid-March, the student and his friends talked about ways they could help other young adults during the coming months. They realized that the reflective process of writing could be invaluable. The idea of a submission-based site was born.

Quaranteen’s founders know that their peers experience a welter of emotions in the best of times. A pandemic makes things exponentially worse.

In the best of times too, young voices are often unheard or dismissed. As the world grapples with a deadly virus, young adults themselves may feel that their problems do not, or should not, matter.

But those experiences and problems are still real. Now — thanks to Quaranteen — anyone facing them can write about them.

And be heard.

A screenshot of the Quaranteen home page.

How To Survive A Quarantine? With Staples Players!

When “Seussical” was shut down just hours before opening night — collateral damage from the COVID-induced closing of all Westport schools — dozens of Staples Players were heartbroken. Audiences never saw their months of hard work.

Seniors were particularly devastated. The spring show is a capstone to their 4-year careers. On closing night they’re introduced individually, celebrated, and take well-deserved bows.

There’s an old theater saying: “The show must go on.” For over 60 years Players’ has honored that tradition. They’re not about to let a little pandemic stop them.

The show is not “Seussical.” But this Saturday and next, the nationally recognize troupe presents a special event. It’s a gift to the community — and a tribute to the 2020 seniors.

“10 Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine” was written by Don Zolidis. The playwright specializes in shows for high school groups. Several years ago, Players staged the world premiere of his musical “Angie” at Toquet Hall.

This spring, Zolidis recognized the need for a play that schools could produce virtually, while maintaining social distance. Very quickly, directors David Roth and Kerry Long got to work.

They invited all their 12th grade veteran members to participate. Fifteen are acting; a few others are helping behind the scenes, like stage manager Karalyn Hood.

Thirteen additional cast members, spanning all grades, bring the total “on stage” to 28.

“10 Ways” includes over 25 comic vignettes, dealing with life in isolation. One is about staging musicals with pets; others cover taking up a new sport (and thinking you’re good), perfecting the art of laziness — you get the idea.

Some sketches will be performed live (fingers crossed). Others will be pre-recorded videos. Seniors Sam Laskin and Tobey Patton host the show — and offer live commentary throughout.

For the past month, rehearsals were held via Google Meet. Three student assistant directors also held individual meetings with actors.

The concept is new for Players. So is the technology. Tech consultant (and alum) Dave Seltzer is advising on livestreaming; fellow Player alum Michael Dodd  helps.

“We’re working through our live run-throughs,” the directors say. “But we’re charting new ground. What a crazy world!”

The show is broken into 2 parts. The first will be broadcast this Saturday (May 23, 7 p.m.) The second is set for the same time the following Saturday (May 30). There are “encore” performances (taped) at 6 p.m. on the Tuesday following each performance (May 26, June 2).

Tickets are free for the live and encore shows (click here; if you want tickets to a Tuesday “encore,” click the Saturday prior to it).

However, Roth and Long encourage donations of any amount. The cancellation of “Seussical” (and the spring Black Box production, “Noises Off”) has hurt considerably.

That — and with this clever new show — are 2 ways by which Staples Players can survive life in a quarantine.

NOTE: After your purchase, you’ll receive an email with printable “tickets.” Ignore that — but save the other email, which includes a link to access the show. 

Technical questions about the livestream? Email shsplayers@westportps.org. Box office questions? Email sptickets@gmail.com.