Tag Archives: Ben Spector

Class Of 2020 REALLY Graduates! Here’s Video Proof.

Last Friday’s drive-through graduation was a red-blue-letter day in Staples history.

The high school’s Class of 2020 was honored with decorated cars, signs, balloons, music, and an almost 1-on-1 ceremonial turning of the tassel. It was joyful, personal, meaningful and fun.

Of course, a few elements of a traditional graduation were missing: “Pomp and Circumstance,” speeches, and the chance for everyone to see all the graduates at once.

No problem!

Yesterday — the day of the originally scheduled commencement — a complete video was released. It’s as close to a familiar graduation — say, 2019 — as possible. And it will live forever.

Former media instructor Jim Honeycutt once again worked his magic. He took each element, reimagined it, taped it, and made it — just like the Class of 2020 — both timeless and timely.

John Videler’s drone video sets the scene.

Drone footage from John Videler sets the “Pomp and Circumstance” scene. Staples Players president Sam Laskin serves as emcee. Principal Stafford Thomas delivers a special welcome.

Luke Rosenberg proves he’s not only a masterful choral director, but also a technological wizard. He weaves together remote performances from 40 singers, into a stunningly beautiful “Star-Spangled Banner.”

You wouldn’t know these 40 voices were all recorded separately.

Valedictorian Ben Spector and salutatorian Benji Schussheim speak about their — and their class’s — journey.

Valedictorian Ben Spector and salutatorian Benji Schussheim.

Then comes a slide show. All 437 graduates get 10 seconds each — with congratulatory messages from their families. Orchestra and band musical highlights from throughout the year play in the background, underscoring the many talented students in the school.

No graduation is complete without official certification (from Board of Education chair and “proud parent of a graduating senior Candice Savin), and tassel-turning (by Carly Dwyer and Ben Howard).

After closing remarks from principal Thomas, the video ends with the recessional, over Ryan Felner’s drone footage from last Friday’s parade.

Principal Stafford Thomas.

A list of senior awards is shown. The final shot is 2020 class photo.

“Class” is right. This year’s seniors have shown uncommon maturity, grace and poise, in the face of unexpected adversity. The graduation video is a fitting reminder of a great group.

But don’t take my word for it. Click here, and see for yourself!

Emcee Sam Laskin.

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.