Category Archives: Teenagers

Roundup: MLK Day, Club 203 Party, Ruth Bedford Fund …

Westport’s 17th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration next month will be one of its most memorable.

Author/creative artist/filmmaker/playwright/multi-dimensional performance artist Junauda Petrus will be the special guest here.

Petrus’ work spotlights “Black wildness, laughter, futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, spectacle and shimmer.” Her debut novel, “The Stars and the Blackness Between Them,” received the 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Award. She is writing a screenplay adaptation of the book.

Petrus’ visit to Westport will focus on “reimagining community diversity, engagement, and civility.”

On Friday, January 13 she will present at area schools. On Saturday, January 14 Petrus will visit the Westport Library for an experiential workshop with local artists (click here for more information), followed by a panel discussion with them (click here to register).

The 3-day celebration culminates on Sunday, January 15 with her 3 p.m. keynote address at the Westport Country Playhouse. Copies of her book will be available for purchase, with Petrus signing copies after her talk. The program is free with registration (click here), and includes a dance performance by the Regional Center for the Arts.

The Martin Luther King Jr. celebration began in 2006, coordinated by the Westport/Weston Interfaith Council and Westport/Weston Interfaith Clergy. Since 2016 it has been hosted by those 2 organizations, the Westport Library, Westport Country Playhouse, and TEAM Westport.

To learn more about Junauda Petrus, click here.

Junauda Petrus

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Tuesday night was magical at Wakeman Town Farm. 120 members of Club 203 gathered for their first-ever holiday party.

The organization offers great social opportunities for adults with disabilities. They’re uplifted by strong community support.

For this week’s festivities, the tent was sponsored by the Riverside Realty Group. Motivators came from TAP Strength. The art project in Tim’s Kitchen was hosted by MoCA.

The hot cocoa bar and snacks were Gold’s, Rye Ridge Deli, The Porch @ Christie’s, Fresh Market and Silverman Farms. The event space came courtesy of Wakeman Town Farm.

A few of the Club 203 party-goers at Wakeman Town Farm. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for the December 8-14 period.

Seven people were detained in custody. The charges for each:

  • Forgery, 2nd and 3rd degree; fraudulent use of ATM
  • Larceny, 1st degree
  • Rick of injury to a child; criminal mischief; disorderly conduct
  • Criminal violation of a restraining order; harassment
  • Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol; stop sign violation
  • Failure to appear.

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 7
  • Stop sign violation: 6
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 3
  • Cell phone, first offense: 2
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 2
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 2
  • Failure to grant right of way at an intersection: 1
  • Distracted driving: 1
  • Failure to obey control signal: 1
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian: 1
  • Disorderly conduct: 1.

The crosswalk on Riverside Avenue, at South Sylvan. Like many others, it’s clearly marked that drivers must yield to pedestrians.

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For the second year in a row, all 22 Kings Highway Elementary School classes participated in the Connecticut Education Foundation’s Holiday Bear program.

Each class received information about a child in our area who might not receive gifts for the holidays. Families shopped for items on the youngsters’ holiday wish lists. They ranged from toys and crafts to necessities like coats, hats, gloves and pajamas.

Students worked with their teachers and parent volunteers to wrap each gift.  ,

In addition, KHS teachers banded together to sponsor an additional child on their own.

Earlier today, CEF picked up all 23 Holiday Bear duffle bags, bursting with wrapped gifts from teachers, students and staff.

Congratulations to the Kings Highway Elementary School community. That’s the holiday spirit!

Kings Highway students, with a few of the 23 Holiday Bear duffel bags stuffed with gifts. (Photo courtesy of KHS PTA)

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The Westport Domestic Violence Task Force had its own successful holiday drive.

For the past week, they collected gift cards, to benefit the Domestic Violence Crisis Center safehouse and community clients.

Residents donated $3,250 in cards to department specialty, and grocery stores. Survivors purchase what they most need or want for their families this season.

This can be a dark time for victims of domestic violence. The WDVTF thanks all who help make it a bit brighter.

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In 2015, the Westport Weston Family YMCA received a large and unexpected gift from the estate of Ruth Bedford.

The granddaughter of Edward T. Bedford — who founded the Y — she had died the previous year, at 99. The board of trustees established the Ruth Bedford Social Responsibility Fund. Its endowment supports grants to organizations that provide direct or supplemental educational opportunities in Fairfield County.

This week, the Y honored the 31 recipients for 2022.

Representatives from each group described how their grants would be spent. For example:

  • The Carver Foundation of Norwalk serves 2,500 K-12 students. Funds will towards supporting its middle school program.
  • Homes with Hope will help housing insecure people get back on their feet.
  • Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport will use the grant for its Early Childhood Education program.
  • New Beginnings Family Academy serves Bridgeport’s most vulnerable children. The donation will help “level the playing field.”
  • Wakemen Memorial Association (Boys & Girls Club) sponsors after-school and summer camp programs. They’re also building a second location in Bridgeport,

CEOs Marcie Berson (Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestra) and Novelette Peterkin (Carver Foundation) share a table at the Westport Y’s Ruth Bedford Social Responsibility Fund ceremony.

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Staples High School’s December Students of the Month are seniors Zoe Webster and Mia Vindiola; junior Andrew Cerrito; sophomores Ethen Perry and Kensley Laguerre, and freshmen Benjamin Barger and Annabelle Katz.

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

Students of the Month are nominated by their teachers, who are asked to think of “all-around good citizens” of the school.

Staples High School’s December Students of the Month. From left: Benjamin Barger, Zoe Webster, Annabelle Katz, Kensley Laguerre, Andrew Cerrito, Ethen Perry. Absent: Mia Vindiola.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo …

(Photo/Stephen Raffel)

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… leads naturally to our “And … finally” song:

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Scanning Westport’s Vape, Bong And Gummies Scene

Though cannabis has been legalized in Connecticut, no store in the state is yet licensed to sell it.

State law also mandates that all nicotine products be kept behind store counters.

Stores must also post notices about the legality of sales of nicotine and THC products.

It is illegal to sell vaping products within 500 feet of a residential area or house of worship.

Yet all of those laws and regulations are being broken in Westport.

That’s the conclusion of an “Environmental Scan of Westport Smoke Shops.” It was conducted recently by Ben Fitzgerald of Prevention Corps and Rachalle Ubaldo of Positive Directions. The results were presented Tuesday, to the Westport Prevention Coalition.

Fitzgerald and Ubaldo visited 6 Westport smoke shops, gas stations and convenience stores. The project was coordinated with the Westport Police Department.

Names of the businesses were not included in the report.

The pair spoke to clerks to learn about popular products. They also attempted to make purchases, to see if they would be carded.

Only 3 of the businesses were registered with the state to sell electronic nicotine delivery systems (also called e-cigarettes or vape pens), or vapor products. Five of the stores were within 500 feet of a residential area; 3 were within 500 feet of a house of worship. Three did not store all nicotine products behind the counter.

A variety of vaping devices. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Three of the 6 stores carried pipes, rolling papers and bongs, Fitzgerald and Ubaldo said.

Possession of 1 1/2  ounces of cannabis is now legal in Connecticut, for people 21 and older. However, retail sales have not yet begun. It is also still illegal to grow cannabis at home, except with a medical marijuana license.

Three of the 6 stores did not card Fitzgerald and Ubaldo. A clerk at one store asked if they were “back from school,” while ringing up THC products. Sale of those products is illegal under state and local law.

According to the Prevention Coalition duo, one wellness store sold edibles (gummies) with 15 mg of THC each. State law will cap the serving of one edible at 5 mg.

Two stores carried Delta-8 THC products. Another — which the duo planned to visit — advertised Delta-8 on its website.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Delta-8 is a psychoactive substance. It has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use in any context.

Delta-8 “may be marketed in ways that put the public health at risk and should especially be kept out of reach of children and pets,” the agency says.

One store told Fitzgerald and Ubaldo that Delta-8 is illegal, but offered Delta-9 — the most abundant form of THC in cannabis plants — as an alternative.  

Three of the 6 stores carried still-illegal TCH products, such as edibles dab pens and cartridges.

At one store, a clerk pushed the conversation toward TCH. “Does your friend vape nicotine or … something else?” he asked.

Though state law requires signage about carding — including notice that giving or selling nicotine/THC products to minors (under 21) is illegal; fake IDs are illegal, and there are fines for illegal purchases — 3 stores displayed no signs. They were also the stores that did not card Fitzgerald and Ubaldo.

Two other stores displayed incomplete signage.

Following the pair’s presentation, Prevention Coalition attendees talked about next steps. Among them: police coordination with state agencies to take enforcement action (including fines and license forfeiture), and discussion by the Board of Selectwomen.

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Staples Student Directors Star At Young Filmmakers’ Forum

Staples High School pulses with exciting, challenging classes.

But there are many chances to learn outside the classroom too.

Staples Independent Learning Experience is one path. Students spend a semester or full year working independently or collaboratively, on a project they’re passionate about.

They’re supported by an Independent Learning Experiences teacher, and a faculty mentor.

Last school year, 6 students directed and produced films. On December 20 (6:30 p.m.), the Westport Library will host their international premieres. Afterward, media studies teacher/advisor Lauren Bullock will moderate a talkback, with the filmmakers.

Staples students have access to sophisticated video equipment and editing software.

The films at the Westport Young Filmmakers’ Forum include:

Chucknea’s Biopic (Filmmaker: Jacob Friedman)
An ex-criminal-turned-interdimensional defense officer investigates a lead on a former crime partner, only to discover a more sinister plot for revenge that implicates the security of all dimensions.

Plus One Filmmakers: Leah Chapman, Tate Mullineaux)
Co-dependency and instability challenge 2 teens, as they try to deal with everyday life.

Sincerely, Nadia FilmmakerElen Macaluso)
Struggling with mental health issues, a high school girl reflects on her life.

Edges of Love (Filmmaker: Ben Seideman)
A couple preys on unsuspecting victims in a twisted game of betrayal, manipulation and psychosis.

Crucible (Filmmaker: Jack Rein)
A timid youngster suffering from domestic violence is transformed into a confident vigilante, as his family collapses onto him.

If you’re thinking of amateur attempts made with cheap equipment held by shaky hands — think again.

This is 2022. These high school kids have been taught well.

They’ve learned a lot on their own, too.

See their last high school films on the Westport Library’s big screen.

You will probably see their work in years to come.

On a much larger one.

(“06880” covers all the arts, and all the ages. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Roundup: Positano, Crossword Contest, Hidden Gem …

A reader writes:

The recent “06880” story about 233 Hillspoint Road [the former Positano restaurant, now being rebuilt as a private home] led me down the Google rabbit hole, to a wonderful surprise.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I had a Positano reunion at the former Chef Joseph’s son and daughter’s recently opened West Village restaurant, Ferdi.

The hospitality and food is instantly, wonderfully, familiar, while also sparkling with the imprint of the next generation of Chef Fernando and Manager Aida.

My sister and her husband were with us, visiting from Ohio. They married on the beach outside Positano 21 years ago, and had their wedding party at the restaurant. (Its first, I think.)

My adult children, who also were at this dinner with my husband and me, grew up talking to young Fernando and Aida during our countless meals at Positano.

The evening was meaningful for all of us — and we have “06880” to thank for getting the ball rolling.

Positano lives on — as Ferdi, in New York.

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What are you doing at 9 a.m. this Thursday (December 1)?

If you’re a fan of both Staples High School’s Candlelight Concert and the Westport Library’s Crossword Puzzle Contest, you’ll have to prioritize.

Tickets for both popular events go on sale — at the exact same moment. And they go quickly for both.

Click here for the December 16-17 holiday production.

Click here for the February 4 word games event.

And good luck to all!

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Aaron and Brett Fortunoff are Bedford Middle School students, with big hearts and great goals. They write:

“In the spirit of giving and being thankful, we can’t forget about those who are less fortunate and fail to receive a proper daily breakfast — the most important meal of the day.

“So we teamed up with a non-profit called Cereal4All that helps provide cereals to local food pantries. We hope ‘06880’ readers can help us with this important cause.

“For local readers, we will be by both entrances of Stop & Shop this weekend (December 3 and 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). We will then deliver the collected cereal to food pantries in Fairfield County.

“There will also be a collection box at Temple Israel in Westport, from December 2 to 16.

“For readers are not local, we created an Amazon wish list you can donate to.  Also, you can Venmo our mother, Laurie. She will buy cereal with the money raised: @lauriefortunoff. You can also click here and donate directly to the charity. The donation is tax deductible.

Aaron and Brett Fortunoff

 

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The Hidden Gem — the combination hair salon/crystal shop on Maple Avenue South, just south of the Exxon station — has closed.

A “for sale” sign sits on the property, the former site of Juljen, Bill’s and Mario & Mike’s.

The asking price is $2 million. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Chris Grimm)

6 Maple Avenue South, with a previous tenant.

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The stars are aligned. This is your chance to order a 2023 Westport Astronomical Society calendar.

It’s filled with daily astronomical data from Phil Harrington, and illustrated with astro-photography from talented WAS members.

The calendar is $15 for members, $20 for non-members ($5 shipping for 1-2; $10 for 3-5). It’s available at any upcoming event (click here for the calendar), or by email (alex@was-ct.org; include quantity and shipping address; you’ll be invoiced via PayPal).

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No matter what the season, there’s beauty at Compo Beach.

Today’s timeless “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Lauri Weiser.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Keith Levene — a founding member of both the Clash and Public Image Ltd. — died earlier this month in England. He was 65, and suffered from liver cancer. Click here for a full obituary.

(Don’t be a punk. Please support “06880.” Click here to help. Thank you!)

Unsung Heroes #264

For over 60 years, Staples Players have entertained, touched and inspired audiences. Some shows are fun and funny; others, thought-provoking or  provocative.

Over the years, we’ve grown to expect spectacular quality: acting, singing, directing, choreography, sets, costumes, lighting, the pit.

We always rave about Players’ productions. But we sometimes take them for granted.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 7th time they’ve put on that musical — closed Saturday night. It built on the tradition of previous versions, and all the other successes.

But it sure wasn’t easy.

Henry Carson — the senior playing Nathan Detroit — was laid out by flu just before the show opened. Freshman Will McCrae stepped spectacularly into the breach. (His late grandfather — Jack Lemmon — would have been very proud.)

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

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

In the week between opening and closing, nearly 2 dozen of the cast and tech crew caught whatever was going around. 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 was ill. 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.

Luke Rosenberg took over as pit director last weekend. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The show must go on. And it did.

How about one more standing ovation for:

  • The understudies who got the call, and quickly responded
  • Their replacements, who had to instantly adapt too
  • The costume crew, who did incredible work before the show, then kept working as actors took on new roles
  • The tech crew, which never gets enough praise — and their creative boss, Jeff Hauser, who made sure set designer Jordan Janota’s imaginative vision was brought to life

“Rockin’ the Boat” — on the great “Guys and Dolls” set. (Photo/Kerry Long)

  • Choreographer (and expectant mom) Rachel MacIsaac Myers, whose wonderful work continued with each new actor
  • Luke Rosenberg, a true professional who stepped into the big conducting breach with virtually no notice
  • Directors David Roth and Kerry Long, who solved problem after problem, and weathered storm after storm, by modeling the show biz tradition that everyone involved will remember the rest of their lives.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 1950 show — is all about luck.

“Guys and Dolls” — Staples Players-style — had plenty of bad luck. But every person involved, on stage and off, came through a winner.

Congratulations, guys (and dolls). You’re our “06880” Unsung Heroes of the Week.

PS: Missed the show? check out the highlight reel below. It’s an easy bet: This will be the best 8 minutes you spend today.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Let us know! Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

(“06880” entertains — and, hopefully, inspires and provokes — you several times a day. To support your hyper-local blog, please click here.)

 

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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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.)

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.

Congressional Candidates Himes, Stevenson Speak At Staples

Most Staples High School students are not yet eligible to vote.

But Connecticut’s 4th District congressional candidates made their cases yesterday to 120 students, from a half dozen social studies classes.

Scheduling issues prevented an actual debate between Democratic Congressman Jim Himes and his challenger, Republican Jayme Stevenson. They appeared at different times.

But both offered opening statements, and responded to written questions from the teenagers.

Himes began by noting his experience, and his accomplishments during his 7 terms in Washington. He highlighted large spending packages passed by Democrats, like the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment Act.

Congressman Jim Himes speaks at Staples High School.

Stevenson detailed her experience as Darien’s former first selectwoman, and how she hopes to change the political environment in the nation’s capital.

Questions covered a wide-range of topics, including inflation and the economy, crime, school safety and education, climate change, and energy policy.

Himes defended the Democrats’ record under President Biden, highlighting in part the American Rescue Plan while conceding that it did influence inflation.

Stevenson discussed how an all-of-the-above energy policy is necessary to combat gas prices. She said that her oil bill is $500 more this year than last.

Congressional challenger Jayme Stevenson addresses students. Event organizer Spencer Yim is behind her.

Himes was passionate about school safety and guns, promising to deliver more legislation if reelected. He said that the bipartisan gun control bill was a worthwhile step that lacked ambition.

Stevenson explained her proposal to fund school resource officers. She said she supports universal background checks, and has a pistol permit.

On the issue of education, Stevenson advocated for greater parental rights and school choice for low-income students.

Himes seemed open to late-term abortion restrictions, and said he would support returning the standard to Roe v. Wade.

Stevenson explained her pro-choice stand with “common-sense” restrictions, saying she would not support the 15-week abortion ban proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham.

On climate change, both candidates expressed the urgent need for action. Himes called it a “national security threat,” while Stevenson discussed  conservation and innovative sustainability efforts.

Part of the large crowd at the Staples High School library yesterday.

Both candidates received the same final question: Despite the political tension and climate, what is one thing you respect about your opponent?

Himes pointed to his “strong working relationship” with Stevenson. He commended her for her leadership in Darien, and her anti-Trump opposition to election denialism.

Stevenson emphasized Himes’ family roots as a father.

The event was organized largely by Staples High School senior Spencer Yim, with help from both campaigns, social studies teacher Suzanne Kammerman and school administrators.

Bringing the candidates to Staples was a goal of the Your Vote Matters Club, which Yim founded. Kammerman is the faculty advisor.

“Today was an amazing opportunity to hear directly from the candidates themselves,” Yim says.

“Even though many students won’t be able to vote in this election, I hope this experience empowered them to explore, engage civically in the community, and be educated about the various issues and candidates so that they can be informed voters in the future.”

Lucky 7 For Staples Players’ “Guys & Dolls”

“Guys and Dolls” holds a special place in David Roth’s heart.

The Broadway classic was the very first show he staged at Staples High School, after being named Players director in 2000.

Nine years later, when he revived the show, his and co-director Kerry Long’s daughter was born on opening night — just 17 minutes after the curtain rose.

“Guys and Dolls” holds a special place for other Players directors too. It debuted in 1973; was reprised in 1983 (as a summer show), 1985 nd again in 1993.

When the curtain rises on November 11, the seventh production will make it the most popular in Staples Players history.

“Oldest Established” with the Gangster Ensemble. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“It’s such a great show!” Roth notes. “It’s got wonderful characters and great dancing. It’s funny. It’s been called ‘the best musical ever written.’ Audiences love it, and kids love working on it.”

“Guys and Dolls” is as perfect for Roth today as it was when he took Players’ reins 22 years ago. Back then he wanted to build 2 strong bases: actors and audiences.

Now — after COVID — he’s rebuilding both.

Though Roth and Long have directed “Guys and Dolls” twice before, this is an entirely new show. The set designer, technical director, choreographer and musical director are all new.

Roth says the set “is not to be believed.” Designed by Jordan Janota, and overseen by tech director Jeff Hauser, it features vintage light-up signs.

“Rockin’ the Boat” — on the great “Guys and Dolls” set. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Of course — this being high school — the cast is entirely new too. “New actors always make roles their own,” Roth explains.

The teenagers — born more than half a century after the show debuted, and not yet alive the first time Roth directed it — knew of the show, he says. But most had never seen it.

“They’ve been excited since the beginning,” he adds. “They’ve embraced these bigger-than-life characters.

“And Kerry and I are excited to expose them — and younger audiences — to a classic show like this.’

Fugue for Tinhorns with Jayden Saenz, Finley Chevrier and Sebastian Gikas

“Guys and Dolls” is 72 years old, but it always seems fresh and new. It was revived this month at Washington’s Kennedy Center, and will run next year in London.

It’s been produced 4 times on Broadway.

Seems like the Great White Way has a bit of catching up to do with Staples Players.

(“Guys and Dolls” will be performed on Friday and Saturday, November 11, 12, 18 and 19, at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on November 12, 13 and 19 at 3 p.m. Click here for tickets, and more information.)

ENCORE! Choreographer Rachel MacIsaac is about to deliver her second child. What are the odds that — like Lucy Roth — it too will be born on opening night?

(“06880” is almost as entertaining as Staples Players. Please click here to help support this blog.)

Sarah Brown (played by Madelyn Spera) and Sky Masterson (James Dobin-Smith). (Photo/Kerry Long)