Tag Archives: Cesar Batalla School

Roundup: Real Estate, Balducci’s, Youth Sports …

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Some interesting real estate statistics, courtesy of KMS Partners @ Compass:

Between January 1 and June 30, Westport’s total volume of single-family homes was $493,710,999. An additional $17,508,061 worth of condos and townhouses was sold.

That’s a 78% jump from 2020 for homes, and a 141% increases for condos/ townhouses.

The number of sales (267 for homes, 28 for condos etc.) represents rises of 34 and 87%, respectively.

The median sales prices of homes ($1.575 million) and condos/townhouses ($493,000) are up 30 and 4 percent from 2020, respectively.

Single family homes were on the market for a median of 33 days; condos etc., 65.

The most expensive home sale recorded last week in Westport was 10 Gray Lane, off Sasco Creek Road. It fetched $10 million.

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There are changes cooking at Balducci’s.

The gourmet grocery store is changing 3 of its 6 registers to self-serve.

Staff members have been asked to stay Tuesday night, to work on the store’s remodeling. A source says, “No one in the store knows what that will be.”

Last fall, Acmme Markets bought 9 Balducci’s stores on the East Coast. They said they would not change the name — or the quality of the goods.

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Weston resident Ed Whitley is global head of content partnerships for Bridgeman Images. They represent over 2,500 museums, galleries and artists around the world.

He had a great — and pleasant surprise — yesterday, at Weston’s inaugural Art Fine Arts Festival. One of his own contemporary artists — Ben Bonart — exhibited.

Yesterday’s festival included Weston’s own José Feliciano, in his first live performance since the pandemic struck.

The Weston Fine Arts Festival continues today, through 5 p.m. on School Road.

Ben Bonart (left) at the Weston Fine Arts Festival, with Edward and Susie Whitley,

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Congratulations to Westport Little League’s champion 10U All-Star district team. They won the title Friday, beating Fairfield National. with a score of 14 to 1 beating Fairfield National.

Team members are Dylan Burdeshaw, Brody Chiupsa, Miles Delorier, Henry Ellis, Justin Goldshore, Christopher Lambert, Chase Landgraf, Jack McGratah, Luke Moneyhon, Noah Smith, Grant Theisinger, Nolan Walters and Wes Walters. Coaches are Justin Walters, Marc Theisinger and Dave Smith.

Next up: the sectional tournament.

Westport Little League district champs!

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Speaking of sports: Two soccer events yesterday highlighted the importance of the game for all youngsters, regardless of physical or mental disability, or socioeconomic status.

Staples High School boys team tri-captain Bruno Guiduli continued his fundraising and awareness campaign for TOPSoccer, a national program for players with intellectual, physical or emotional challenges.

Bruno began his efforts in November. He brought his specially made goal — with the “O” in “TOP”soccer cut out — to Wakeman Field. Four hours later, his total raised passed $3,000.

Bruno Guiduli, with some of his TOPSoccer supporters/kickers. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

A couple of hours later at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport, 1999 Staples High School grad — and former MLS pro/national team player — Kyle Martino unveiled his Over Under Initiative.

Martino designed a goal that converts any basketball court into a field for soccer, street hockey or handball. It’s easy to set up, and — through his non-profit foundation — will provide access to added recreational opportunities for millions of underserved youth.

The Cesar Batalla court is the first in the nation. Martino was joined by Bridgeport superintendent of schools Michael Testani, coaches and players from Beachside Soccer Club, and — of course — a ton of eager kids.

Youngsters play at Cesar Batalla School’s new multi-sport court. The soccer goal can be pulled out of the ground, then sunk back into the ground, with ease.

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Add one more local name to the list of 2021 Emmy nominees: Michael Lonsdale.

The longtime Westporter is up for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special. He was the production mixer on HBO’s “David Byrne’s American Utopia.

Emmy Award

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Thursday’s “06880” blog party. This guy tried to crash the event. He’s lucky he didn’t end up cooked.

(Photo/Isabelle Alvarado)

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And finally … happy 82nd birthday to Dion DiMucci. Known just by one name, Dion made his mark as a doo-wop singer with the Belmonts.

In 1968 he shifted gears, recording a song memorializing 4 slain American heroes: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.

Dion is lucky to have made it past 19. In early February 1959, he was part of a star-studded “Dance Party” tour. When asked to spend $36 on a flight from Clear Lake, Iowa to the next stop, Dion said no to the extravagance. He took the tour bus.

The plane crashed, killing all on board: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.W. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson.

 

 

2 Ways To Make A Difference

Westporters care.

We care about our friends and neighbors. We care about kids and older folks in need, here and in nearby towns and cities.

We want to help — particularly in this holiday season.

But we don’t always know how.

Here are a couple of great ideas.


The Westport Police Department Local Union #2080 and Police Benevolent Association host an annual Holiday Toy Drive. Thousands of donations benefit underprivileged children throughout Fairfield County, and beyond.

Westport police officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — and cash donations — in the ASF Sports parking lot (1560 Post Road East) on Saturdays and Sundays, December 7, 8, 14 and 15 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Collection boxes are set up now through December 15 at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road (24 hours a day)
  • Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
  • ASF Sports, 1560 Post Road East (weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Questions? Email jruggiero@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-6017.


In recent years, Bridgeport’s Cesar Batalla School has become a favorite destination for Westporters hoping to help youngsters enjoy the holidays.

The school serves children in high poverty brackets. Some live in shelters. 100% are fed breakfast and lunch at school.

Their families have no money for basic necessities — let alone holiday gifts.

Westporters can provide some of those gifts, for children in pre-K through 3rd grade.

It’s easy: Click here to order online from Amazon. Orders from the Wish List will be shipped directly to the school. They are also accepting donations at the Family Resource Center in the school (606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport).  Call 203-579-8526 for drop-off times. For more information, email blabrador@bridgeportedu.net.

If interested, act now! Gifts will be given by Santa on December 19.

In past years, Westporters donated these gifts to the Cesar Batalla School.

 

Unsung Heroes #94

Earlier this month, the Learning Community celebrated the national Week of the Young Child.

On “Friendship Friday,” children at the Hillspoint Road preschool and kindergarten participated in activities with buddy classes. They also helped youngsters at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport.

Many children there depend on the school as their primary source of food. School breaks — like this one — mark a week of food insecurity.

So throughout the Week of the Young Child, Learning Community families donated healthy snacks and drinks. The children made signs, and helped organize the food into categories.

At the end, every boy and girl helped fill 131 huge bags with granola bars, applesauce, pretzels, crackers, milk and juice.

The bags were delivered to Cesar Batalla before the end of the school day. It was a true group activity.

Thanks to the Learning Community kids, for helping their less fortunate peers.

Congratulations too to the Learning Community staff and parents — led by kindergarten teacher Valerie Greenberg — for instilling the values of care and compassion, and emphasizing the importance of volunteerism, in Westport’s youngest citizens.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Soccer Players Give Bridgeport The Boot

Some Westport teenagers do community service far from home. They build toilets in Honduras, or schools in Africa.

Some do what they can much closer to home.

Thanks to Staples High School boys soccer reserve (junior varsity) coaches Russell Oost-Lievense and Reilly Lynch, 10 varsity and reserve Wreckers are spending the spring working with younger boys and girls just a few miles away in Bridgeport.

This is the 3rd year that Russell — himself a former Staples captain, now a special education teacher — has worked with Brighter Lives for Kids. The non-profit runs in-school and after-school programs for underserved youngsters.

He organizes the soccer component. Last year, 8 Staples players volunteered at the Cesar Batalla School. Twice a week for 8 weeks, they helped 60 boys and girls learn to play and love soccer. They also mentor the kids.

From left: Ana Simunovic, Sam Liles, Vig Kareddy, Callum Wisher, Russell Oost-Lievense and Brendan Lynch, with their eager young players in Bridgeport.

This spring, Russell has expanded the program. It’s now twice a week for 10 weeks, and involves 80 children.

One of the driving forces — last year and this — is current junior Carter Bassler.

He enlisted teammates Emerson Anvari, Surya Balaji, Colin Corneck, Josh DeDomenico, Sam Liles, Brendan Lynch, Patricio Perez Elorza, Enzo Valadares and Callum Wisher. Former player Vignesh Kareddy also participates.

It’s a fantastic, important program. 100% of Cesar Batalla students qualify for state-provided breakfast and lunch by the school, because they fall into the highest bracket of poverty. They have little access to sports, beyond this program.

Of course, it takes money — for equipment, transportation and more. Click here for a GoFundMe page.

In addition, soccer shoes and shin guards can be donated in Westport. A box is set up at the front door of 40 Sturges Commons (with security camera), between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Westport teenagers do plenty of good things, when no one is watching. Whether it’s halfway around the globe, or just up the road.

4 Ways To Make A Difference

Westporters care.

We care about our friends and neighbors. We care about kids and older folks in need, here and in nearby towns and cities.

We want to help — particularly in this holiday season.

But we don’t always know how.

Here are a few great ideas.


The Westport Police Department Local Union #2080 and Police Benevolent Association host an annual Holiday Toy Drive. Thousands of donations benefit underprivileged children throughout Fairfield County, and beyond.

Westport police officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — and cash donations — in the ASF Sports parking lot (1560 Post Road East) on Saturdays and Sundays, December 8, 9, 15 and 16, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Collection boxes will also be set up from Monday (December 3) through December 16, at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road (24 hours a day)
  • Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
  • ASF Sports, 1560 Post Road East (weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Questions? Email jruggiero@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-6017.

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Westport’s Department of Human Services annual, confidential Holiday Giving Program helps over 400 residents each year.

Donors contribute gift cards to local stores, supermarkets and gas stations. Cash donations are welcome too; Human Services staff uses them to make purchases for clients.

Checks (payable to “DHS Family Programs,” with “Holidays” on the memo line) and gift cards may be mailed to or dropped off at: Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Room 200, Westport, CT 06880.

For more information, email hsyouth@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-1069. Individuals and families needing extra support during the holiday season should call 203-341-1050.


A new online option helps Westport’s most vulnerable residents this season — and beyond. Over 400 individuals and families in town meet the federal poverty level.

The “WeCare Westport” portal provides access to 7 funds:

The Barbara Butler Fund connects at-risk youth with enrichment opportunities.

The Residents in Need Fund provides emergency financial assistance for food, shelter, utilities, medical expenses and other critical needs to Westport residents meeting income guidelines.

The Senior Client Needs Fund serves seniors on limited or fixed incomes during periods of financial hardship.

The Family-to-Family Fund supports offers help with unforeseen expenses during times of financial hardship.

Toquet Hall, located downtown, offers social, cultural and recreational opportunities to teenagers.

Prevention and Educational Programming gives free education and awareness events addressing substance abuse, mental health and parenting education.

Donors who want to help but have no preference of which population to assist can direct funds to the Area of Most Need. This assists residents of any age, when most urgently needed.

To donate to any of these 7 funds, click here.


In recent years, Bridgeport’s Cesar Batalla School has become a favorite destination for Westporters hoping to help youngsters enjoy the holidays.

The school serves children in high poverty brackets. Some live in shelters. 100% are fed breakfast and lunch at school.

Their families have no money for basic necessities — let alone holiday gifts.

Westporters can provide some of those gifts, for children in pre-K through 3rd grade.

It’s easy: Click here to order online from Amazon. Orders from the Wish List will be shipped directly to the school. They are also accepting donations at the Family Resource Center in the school (606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport).  Call 203-579-8526 for drop-off times. For more information, email blabrador@bridgeportedu.net.

In addition, Lucy’s (23 Jesup Road, next to Green and Tonic ) is taking donations for the Cesar Batalla School. Unwrapped new toys can be dropped off Mondays through Saturdays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays noon to 5pm).

If interested, act now! Gifts will be given by Santa on December 20.

In 2016, Westporters donated these gifts to the Cesar Batalla School.

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(These are only a few ways to help. To add your own favorite cause, click “Comments” below.)

 

Unsung Heroes #69

The other day, alert “06880” reader Melissa Shein nominated several women as Unsung Heroes. For 4 years they’ve volunteered with her at Bridgeport’s Cesar Batalla School. Together, they’ve helped a 9-year-old learn to read.

The boy was born at 24 weeks, weighing just over 1 pound. His twin brother is blind, but learns with ease. This youngster — who loves to play and learn — has shown language and learning difficulties, not easy solved.

He’s made good use of the resources provided. But more is needed. Melissa fears he’ll fall through the cracks. He’s already begun to doubt what he can achieve.

Westport women have joined to help this Cesar Batalla School student.

“Given his level of determination, receptivity to instruction and genuine love of learning, it is easy to imagine him developing academic and personal resiliency in a supportive, academically rigorous environment that addresses his specific needs and unique learning style,” she says.

So she went to work. Marjorie Almansi provided many contacts of people to do evaluations, to help get him into the Southport School for students with language learning differences.

Jill Greenberg did that full evaluation free of charge. She put the boy’s mother in touch with numerous resources. Robin Hellman did a full occupational therapy evaluation, and offered support.

The Southport School tentatively agreed to take him. The group — including other volunteers like Gwen Cohen and Sherri Gordon — is working on making that happen now.

Melissa and the other women are determined to turn around the life of one young Bridgeport boy. They deserve our Unsung Hero accolades — and awe.

Staples, Cesar Batalla Students Cook Up Friendship

Stacey Henske is a dedicated volunteer. She’s involved with many worthy causes — including Westport PTAs.

But she and several other Westporters also serve as room moms at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport. Through the Brighter Lives For Kids Foundation, they help provide opportunities and experiences to city children that will enrich their education.

Stacey works with Melody Curran’s 2nd grade class. The other day, she helped organize a visit to Alison Milwe Grace’s Culinary 1 class at Staples High School.

“The Staples students were fantastic with the kids,” Stacey reports. The high schoolers helped the youngsters bake chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms. They learned to measure ingredients, crack eggs and use a mixer.

They already knew how to eat cookies, Grace notes.

The field trip was a Henske family affair. Learning Through Lighthouse — a Staples club that her freshman son Spencer is involved with — paid for the bus.

And her daughter Samantha — a 5th grader at Kings Highway Elementary School — was there too. As the 2nd graders’ adopted “room sister,” she often helps a little girl in a wheelchair.

No word yet on what’s next for the Staples/Cesar Batalla menu.

Staples and Cesar Batalla students. Chef Alison Milwe Grace is at right.

Westporters Can Keep Helping Cesar Batalla School

Westporters responded quickly — and generously — to Friday’s post about a toy drive at Bridgeport’s Cesar Batalla School.

But there is still an enormous need.

The school serves children in the highest poverty brackets. Some live in shelters. Their families have no money for basic necessities — let alone holiday gifts.

Here’s something new: a link to a special Amazon page. With a couple of clicks, you can send real presents — ones kids only dream of — direct to the the school. (The address is 606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606.)

Westport’s Nicole Straight, surrounded by some of the students she volunteers with at the Cesar Batalla School.

Here’s another way to help: Through Christmas, Lisa Savone will personally deliver gifts to the school. Donations can be dropped off at her clothing store, Lucy’s (23 Jesup Road, next to Green & Tonic, across from Westport Library), Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. If parking is an issue, just pull into the driveway next to the store.

Need alternative arrangements? Email lisa@lucysanswers.com.

“We can make it happen!” Lisa says. “Let’s show these kids that Westport really cares!”

But wait! There’s more!

WestportMoms — the great online group — is organizing a real-live toy drive for Cesar Batalla School on Sunday, December 17. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they’ll fil a moving truck in Levitt Pavilion parking lot.

There are 20 days left before Christmas. That’s plenty of time to make it a memorable holiday for the wonderful boys and girls at this great — but needy — school.

Santa Comes To Bridgeport — And Westport

Last year, “06880” posted an urgent plea for help. The Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport was running a toy drive for their elementary school students. But they were falling far short.

Their kids were in desperate situations: the highest poverty brackets, shelters, you name it. 100% are fed breakfast and lunch at school. Their families have no money for basic necessities — let alone holiday gifts.

Westporters came through — big time.

Some of the presents that poured in to the Cesar Batalla Elementary School last year. (Photos/Jimeale Hede)

This year, alert — and generous — “06880” reader Alexis Donnerstag remembered the drive. She asked how she could contribute again. I hadn’t heard anything from the school. But I sent her a link to their website.

Within a couple of hours, Benji Labrador called. He’s the school security officer. He said the woman who handled the drive last year is gone. He’s in charge, but did not know about the “06880” connection.

Now he does. And so do you.

Anyone can order gifts online — at Amazon, for example — and have them shipped to Benji at the school: 606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606. Click here for a direct link to Amazon’s Cesar Batalla page. You can drop gifts off at Vincent Palumbo Salon (616 Post Road East) — or directly at the school too.

For more information, email blabrador@bridgeportedu.net, or homerun5@optimum.net.


Meanwhile, closer to home, there’s a tree lighting — plus hot chocolate, s’mores and sliders — at the Riverside Avenue plaza (between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk) this Sunday (December 3, 4:30 to 7 p.m.) Santa arrives at 5:15 p.m.

The Gault family invites everyone to come. But they hope you’ll bring an unwrapped toy for a child age 10 or under. All gifts will be donated to Al’s Angels.

Who are they? Well — in addition to providing holiday joy for countless kids in the area — they’re the volunteers who light the William Cribari Bridge, just a couple of yards away from the plaza.

A little gift goes a long way.

To Cesar Batalla School, With Love

If you’re like me, you spend time sitting in Riverside Avenue traffic wondering what goes on behind those mysterious windows above Arezzo restaurant.

bonnie-marcus-logoTurns out it’s a design studio, home to the Bonnie Marcus Collection. Launched by Diane von Furstenberg’s former right-hand woman, it’s where 10 very talented people — all local moms — create illustrations for bridal shower, wedding and party invitations; greeting cards; calendars and more.

Bonnie has developed licensing deals with some of the biggest companies in the world. Her designs are found in more than 50,000 retail and online stores.

But today her studio concentrates on one school, in nearby  Bridgeport.

Bonnie’s cards often feature hand-painted sparkles. So Westporter Nicole Straight — who volunteers at the Cesar Batalla School, and is a big fan of Bonnie Marcus Collections — came up with an idea: Give every student there a chance to make a sparkling Valentine’s Day card for someone special.

Westport middle school student Sydney Gusick helped package goodies at the Bonnie Marcus design studio.

Westport middle school student Sydney Gusick helped package goodies at the Bonnie Marcus design studio.

It could be a parent, sibling, teacher or friend. The key is for kids to have fun making their own cards.

Today, Nicole is delivered 1,200 sparkle pens to the school.

Plus Valentine’s gifts for each teacher: A calendar, filled with color and creativity, for every classroom.

Bonnie and the rest of her team enjoyed plenty of smiling faces at Cesar Batalla today.

Who knows? They may find a future designer there too.

(Hat tip: Robin Gusick)

Making a valentine, today at Cesar Batalla School.

Making a valentine, today at Cesar Batalla School.