My family avoided an awful tragedy this past weekend.
My husband Joe and I are so grateful for the heroic efforts of Tucker Peters. He’s a rising Staples High School junior, and he saved my son Mark’s life.
Both of them are on the Staples sailing team (Mark is a rising sophomore). They were at a sailing camp on Long Island.
Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, their boat flipped over. My son was trapped in his harness underwater. Unable to unhook himself and get to the surface, he passed out.
Tucker freed himself, and called for help. He was instrumental in getting Mark on the coach boat, and was the first to start performing CPR. I have since learned that our kids all learn CPR in middle school health class.
Tucker Peters (left) and Mark Adipietro. Both are junior flag officers at Pequot Yacht Club.
The EMTs and police said that things could have ended quite differently if not for Tucker’s quick thinking and actions. A first responder said, “That kid is a true hero. Things don’t usually go that well in these situations.”
I would like to give my undying gratitude to Tucker Peters and his family, as well as the staff at Bedford Middle School who teach that class. It worked! It literally saved a life.
And as soon as Tucker is cleared, they’ll both be back together, on the water.
Congratulations, Tucker! He (and his teachers) are truly Unsung Heroes.
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“06880” reader and grateful mom Alia Afshar writes:
I would like to nominate Saugatuck Elementary School 5h grade teacher Valentina Tran for the Unsung Hero award.
Though she is relatively new to teaching, Ms. Tran is extraordinary. She has gone above and beyond for my daughter, and I am sure many other SES students too.
Like many COVID refugees, my daughters and I landed in Westport a year ago. It’s hard being the new kid, especially a girl in 5th grade. Everything was different from her school in Brooklyn.
From Day 1, Ms. Tran took my daughter under her wing. She made sure she always had someone to sit with, eat lunch with, and even ride the bus with on field trips.
During the early spring, Ms. Tran organized a playdate after school for my daughter and a former student (now in 6th grade) who she thought my daughter would click with. This was her first school playdate, so you can imagine what that meant.
Toward the end of this school year, we realized my daughter would miss her moving up ceremony due to a planned trip. She was disappointed, but once again Ms. Tran went the extra mile for her.
She organized a surprise graduation last week with her entire class. She had her own graduation program printed. Classmates sang to her, gave speeches, gave her an award and flowers, even a homemade bracelet.
Valentina Tran, at the special moving up ceremony.
Needless to say, I was in tears. It meant the world to my daughter to feel accepted, part of her 5th grade community, and frankly, special.
Ms. Tran orchestrated all of this brilliantly, on top of all of her end of school year duties and taking great care of 20+ children. I am in awe of her dedication, kindness, thoughtfulness, and willingness to go the extra mile for her students.
We are so lucky to have Ms. Tran in the Westport school system. She is a true hero to my family and I’m sure many others too.
So many Westport educators go the extra mile for their students. Ms. Tran is one of many. But we’re honored to honor her today, as “06880”‘s Unsung Hero.
If you know an Unsung Hero, email email@example.com.
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The other evening, the mother of a friend had a serious fall at home while caring for her grandchildren, ages 6 and 9.
My friend rushed home to find her mother sitting on the floor with multiple injuries, and the children shaken and teary.
She called 911 for an ambulance. I arrived shortly after to stay with the children, so my friend could accompany her mother to the hospital.
The ambulance was coming from Fairfield, so it took 30+ minutes to arrive. While we waited, Westport Police officer Shawn Booth responded to the call.
Westport Police Officer Shawn Booth
Officer Booth calmly and efficiently assessed the situation. He also provided interim first aid to my friend’s mother, sat with her for nearly the entire time we waited for EMS, engaged us all in light conversation (no easy feat – we were all upset), and managed to delight 2 very frightened, teary eyed children by bringing them badge stickers and showing photos of his (adorable) dog on his phone.
To top it all off, as he was leaving Officer Booth told the children he’d return the next day with plastic badges for them.
I assumed there was little chance he’d recall saying this; the evening was chaotic, and surely he’d have another busy day serving our community.
However, a few moments ago my friend texted that Officer Booth showed up at her house as promised, with plastic badges for the kids. She said that he was “amazing,” and she was “blown away by his kindness.”
I am too. We are lucky to have someone like Officer Booth in our police department.
(This is not Officer Booth’s first nomination as Unsung Hero. He was also cited in 2020. Click here to read. If you know an Unsung Hero, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Girl Scouts of Connecticut honor her at Woodway Country Club in Darien, for over 30 years as a volunteer. She’s served in many capacities, including chair of their Southwestern Council.
She’s also “06880”‘s Unsung Hero of the Week, for all her work locally.
It’s hard to imagine any Westporter more associated with Girl Scouts than Judy Frey.
A Scout herself as a child in the 1950s — in many troops, because her father was in the military and moved often — “girls didn’t get to do a lot of things,” she says. That’s why the Scouts’ outdoor activities were so welcome.
When she moved to Westport from Minnesota in 1978, she’d already had experience leading her daughter’s troop. She called Scout leaders, met “wonderful” people (including another famed leader, Betty Roberts), and began her long involvement here.
When her daughter was in 7th grade, Judy met Nancy Peach. They began bringing troops to Camp Aspetuck, in Weston. “Some of the girls were scared to go out at night,” Judy recalls. “It was great to take them out of their comfort zone. Making girls stretch is so important.”
Then it was on to the Appalachian Trail. “Nancy taught me so much about the outdoors,” she marvels. Judy also took adults on outdoor adventures, from the White Mountains to Corsica.
But she continued working with Girl Scouts, long after her daughter’s graduation from Staples in 1987. Judy was involved with the high school troop, 8 or 10 girls a year who enjoyed learning skills, camaraderie, and taking trips to places like London. The typical Girl Scout, she says, is “driven to achieve things.”
Judy also volunteered with the district office. A building at Camp Aspetuck now bears her name.
Thanks, Judy, for all you’ve done, for so many. Enjoy both honors today!
(Hat tip: Lynn Goldberg. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email email@example.com. A reminder: “06880” relies entirely on reader donations. To contribute, click here.)
Judy Frey in 2012, with the plaque in her honor at Camp Aspetuck.
Thomas Scarice has been superintendent of schools for less than 2 years. He took the job in the early days of COVID. He knew he’d deal with an unprecedented educational crisis — and would have to learn his new school district in unprecedented ways.
He’s done that, and much more. Today, grateful Westporter Rachel Markus explains why she nominated him for this week’s Unsung Hero honors:
Thomas Scarice has been a fantastic leader for educators, students and parents since taking the helm during such challenging times.
His compassion for all parties and open, honest, informative communications have endeared him to many. His ability to help us navigate through tragedies — from one in the community at the end of the 2021 school year, to the unspeakable event in Texas — with such compassion and empathy, while marshalling resources — is a wonderful reminder that our children are in wonderful and capable hands in the Westport school system.
Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice doing what he loves most: Sitting with students. This photo is from Long Lots Elementary School.
Tom Scarice has proven time and again his ability to listen and encourage patience and dialogue; to wait for information and truth before rushing to make decisions or hasty conclusions.
His tireless dedication to the community is evident in the little things too, such as his 4 a.m. calls with meteorologists in the unenviable task of predicting when to call a snow day.
Many other Westporters — including those without children in the school system — echo Rachel’s words. As the school year ends: Thanks, Superintendent of Schools Scarice, for guiding us so well through it.
(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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