Tag Archives: Green’s Farms Academy

Roundup: SHS Girls, GFA Boys Soccer Champs; 3 Pastors, Arline Gertzoff …

A year ago, the Staples girls soccer team won the state championship — and were disappointed.

It was actually a shared title, after a 0-0 draw with Wilton.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) changed the rule this year, adding penalty kicks if the final was tied after regulation.

The Wreckers had no need for that. Annabel Edwards’ true hat trick — 3 straight goals — in just 6:36 at the start of the 2nd half broke open a 1-0 game yesterday. The blue-and-whites cruised to their 2nd consecutive state “LL” (extra large schools) title, and 3rd in their history, yesterday at Trinity Health Stadium in Hartford. The #3-seeded Westporters slammed #1-ranked Cheshire, 4-1.

Staples finishes the season 12-6-4. The loss was the first for the Rams (21-1-1), who got their lone goal with 9 minutes remaining.

Edwards’ selection as Most Valuable Player of the Match was a no-brainer.

She had plenty of help though. Natalie Chudowsky — who missed part of the season with US national U-15 team duty — scored the first goal. Her sister Evelyn assisted on 2 of Edwards’ strikes

Coach Barry Beattie has built a dynasty. And it looks like it will continue: Edwards is just a sophomore. Evelyn Chudowsky is a junior. And Natalie Chudowsky is only a freshman.

Congratulations to all of Staples’ newest state champs!

2022 state champion Staples High School girls soccer team. (Photo/David G. Whitham, courtesy of The Ruden Report)

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The Staples girls were not the only soccer champions crowned yesterday.

Greens Farms Academy captured the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council New championship yesterday in their division. The #7 Dragons handed #1-ranked Vermont Academy only their second loss of the season, in Lancaster, Massachusetts.

The match was tied 1-1 after overtime, and went to penalty kicks. Keeper Matt Maged saved 2 shots, clinching the win.

It was an equally dramatic season for coach Chris Mira’s GFA side. Ten games in, they were 4-6. They turned it around, finishing 11-7-2.

Maged is one of 6 Westport players on the championship squad. Others are Jared Buckman, Aidan Spellacy, Aneesh Roy and Oscar Nelson. Andrew Salem is from Weston.

Congratulations to all the Dragons!

Greens Farms Academy, NESPAC champs. (Photo/Amy Buckman)

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Three ministers — an Episcopalian, a Methodist and a Congregationalist — walk into a high school auditorium to see a play about saving gamblers’ souls …

No, it’s not a joke. It happened Saturday night.

John Betit (Christ & Holy Trinity), Heather Sinclair (United Methodist) and Alison Patton (Saugatuck Church) were all at the final performance of Staples Players’ (fantastic) production of “Guys & Dolls.”

They were not there to see whether the sisters at the Save a Soul Mission succeed. (Spoiler alert: They do.)

The pastors were there for personal — not professional — reasons. All 3 have at least 1 son or daughter in the show.

After final bows, the clergy trio went on stage. They memorialized the show, their kids — and their work — with a classic photo:

From left: Rev. John Betit, Rev. Heather Sinclair, Rev. Alison Patton. (Photo/Kerry Long)

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The very moving and very personal memorial service for Arline Gertzoff — the United Nations and Democratic Party activist, Representative Town Meeting member and proud Staples High School graduate who died in September — is now online.

The event was held earlier this month, at Town Hall. Click below to honor Arline. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

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Noelle Anastasia of Fairfield, formerly of Westport, died unexpectedly last week. She was 32 years old.

Born on on Christmas Day in 1989, she grew up in Westport.

She sang in the Bedford Middle School choir, and was an altar server at Assumption Church. Throughout her life, Noelle kept her faith close to her heart. She also loved to cook.

She studied at Norwalk Community College, and planned to return to school.

Her family says, “Noelle had a kind soul and a deeply loving heart. More than anything, she loved her daughters Isabella, 5, and Ella, 3. They were the lights and loves of her life. She loved her stepson, Jesus, and was proud of all he accomplished. Her family was the cornerstone of her life, but Noelle also cared for those who needed it. She gave freely of herself, of her time and energy, to help when help was needed. This generosity of spirit extend to animals. Noelle took in kittens that needed a home.”

In addition to her children Noelle is survived by her parents, David and Michellel her husband Jesus; sisters Denise and Nicole; brother Steven; nieces Michayla, Dianna, Marissa, Danniella and Briannal nephews Matthew, Tyler and Jace, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

A Mass of Christian burial is set for tomorrow (Tuesday November 22, 11 a.m., Assumption Church).

Noelle Anastasia

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Mud is as much a part of “Westport … Naturally” as anything else.

Jonathan Prager captured a lot of it, in this photo with an autumn sun.

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … Danny Kalb, a guitarist with the under-appreciated Blues Project band — died Saturday in Brooklyn. He was 80, and had battled cancer for 3 years.

As Mark Smollin notes in his book “The Real Rock & Roll High School,” the Blues Project first played in Westport in 1966. The setting was the Staples High School cafeteria — for the junior prom.

A year later, they were booked for two 50-minute sets in the Staples auditorium. with an intermission. But when they were detained in New York — finishing up a recording session — promoter (and Staples student) Dick Sandhaus talked theier manager, Sid Bernstein (of early Beatles fame) into sending Richie Havens to open the show.

After an hour, Havens was running out of material. So Bernstein had Jeremy Steig & the Satyrs drive up — at his own expense — to do a very long set until the Blues Project arrived.

At 11:30 the Blues Project finally took the stage. Half an hour later they were shut down, by a midnight curfew. Click here for a full obituary.

Roundup: Post-Election, Police Reports, NY Post …

The League of Women Voters welcomed Westport’s registrars of voters — Democrat Deb Greenberg and Republican Marie Signore — for post-election coffee yesterday, at VFW Post 399.

The registrars said that nearly 65% of eligible Westporters voted in last week’s election The statewide average was 57%.

They noted an increase in young voters, and hailed the efforts of Staples High School students — many of them not yet eligible to cast ballots — for their work at the polls.

“We have amazing poll workers,” Greenberg said. “The first things we do after an election are thank them, and pay them.”

Connecticut LWV president Laura Smith said that for registrars everywhere, Election Day is long, but satisfying and worthwhile.

Smith also hailed the voting process in Connecticut. “It’s safe and secure,” she said. “There are so many checks and balances.”

Though it may mean more work for registrars, there was praise that a ballot measure to allow the General Assembly to provide for early voting passed, by about a 60-40 margin.

If legislators approve, details like where exactly to vote, and for how long, would be ironed on. Connecticut is one of only 4 states — with Alabama, Mississippi and New Hampshire — to not provide early voting.

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for November 9-16.

Six people were detained in custody.

One had many counts: larceny, 1st degree; conspiracy to commit larceny; forgery; conspiracy to commit forgery; telephone fraud; conspiracy to commit telephone fraud; criminal impersonation; conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation; illegal use of credit card; conspiracy to commit illegal use of credit card; fraudulent use of automated teller machine; conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of automated teller machine; identity theft; conspiracy to commit identity theft. and failure to appear.

An accomplice was charged with larceny 4th degree; forgery; telephone fraud; illegal use of credit card; criminal impersonation; fraudulent use of automated teller machine; identity theft — and conspiracy to commit all those acts.

There was one arrest for identity theft; receipt of money, goods, services by illegal credit card use; larceny, 2nd degree; forgery, and criminal impersonation.

One person was arrested for possession of controlled substance (narcotics); drug paraphernalia; tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and interfering with an officer/simple assault.

One person was charged with 2 counts of both larceny, 6th degree, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

One person was charged with violation of a restraining order (threatening).

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 9 citations
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 4
  • Stop signal violation: 2
  • Insurance fails to meet minimum requirements: 2
  • Failure to grant right of way; 1
  • Stop sign violation: 1
  • Failure to obey control signal: 1
  • Failure to keep plates readable: 1
  • Improper passing: 1
  • Simple trespass: 1
  • Public disturbance: 1
  • Breach of peace: 1.

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Arline Gertzoff was a proud 1964 Staples High School graduate. After her death this fall, Staples Tuition Grants has created an award in her honor.

STG encourages Arline’s many friends — from her work with the jUNe Day United Nations hospitality committee, to the Representative Town Meeting and local politics — to donate in Arline’s honor. Click here for that link; click here to learn more about Arline.

Staples Tuition Grants provides over $400,000 a year, to over 100 graduating seniors and alumni already in college. Click here to learn more about STG.

Arline Gertzoff

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The long Thanksgiving weekend will be filled with activities at Earthplace. They’re perfect for visiting relatives and friends (and everyone else).

Two miles of trails are open from dawn to dusk. Walk off your Thanksgiving turkey — or see one in the wild. The 62-acre wildlife sanctuary includes fields, forests, ponds and a stream. Some trails are accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. Click here for a trail map.

“Saturdays at Earthplace”: Explore the sanctuary, create art, climb trees, identify flora and fauna, get dirty, catch bugs and enjoy the great outdoors. All ages. Click here for details.

Family campfire (Saturday, November 26, 1:30 to 3 p.m.). A guided activity with s’mores and animals. Click here for details.

“Story and Animal Program” runs Mondays through Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. For children 5 and under. Click here for details.

Birds of prey feeding takes place daily at 11 a.m. Learn about diets, behavior and care.  Click here for details.

Earthplace also offers holiday shopping (reusable water bottles and travel straws, t-shirts, hoodies, hats, stuffed animals, books, honey and more), and science box kits with themes like acids and bases, birds, ecosystems, plants, pollution and polymer ($35 per box; call 203-557-4400 or email info@earthplace.org).

One of Earthplace’s many trails. (Photo/Rowene Weems)

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The New York Post does not often cover high culture.

But the tabloid takes note of Beechwood’s Arts & Innovation Series — as well as Beechwood itself.

The Weston Road home of internationally renowned pianist Frederic Chiu and his wife, artist Jeanine Esposito, is on the market for $2.59 million. Built in 1806, the magnificent 7-bedroom home on 2.63 acres has been the site of a decades-long series of events, bringing together creative people from the worlds of music, art, dance, design, food and more.

The Post recounts some of Beechwood’s history too, from visits by Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Frederick Law Olmsted (and possibly Buffalo Bill and Rock Hudson).

Click here for the full New York Post story. Click here for the real estate listing.

Beechwood

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The Staples High School girls soccer team is getting ready to defend their state championship.

The Wreckers got 3 goals from the Chudowsky sisters — 2 by Natalie, 1 from Evelyn — to shut out Glastonbury 3-0 last night, at Naugatuck High. Staples was ranked 3rd in the state “LL” (extra large school) tournament. The Titans were 2nd.

This Saturday or Sunday (day and time TBD) at Trinity Health (formerly Dillon) Stadium in Hartford, coach Barry Beattie’s squad will face top-rated Cheshire. They edged Ridgefield 2-1 in the other semifinal.

Last year the Wreckers and Ridgefield shared the title, after tying 0-0 through 80 minutes of regulation play, and 30 minutes of overtime.

This year, one team will definitely win. State tourney rules have been changed, adding penalty kicks to decide a winner instead of co-champions.

The Staples girls soccer team. (Photo/JC Martin courtesy of Westport Local Press)

In other Staples sports news, sophomore Annam Olasewere broke 2 state records in the girls swimming state meet.

Her 1:47.86 finish at 200 meters smashed a 17-year-old mark. Annam then busted her own record by .26 seconds in the 100 freestyle with a 49.88 time.

Overall, the Wreckers finished 5th, with 431 points. Ridgefield won the team title, with 761.

Annam Olasawere

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Greens Farms Academy’s new theater director Kellie Comer is getting ready for her first musical there.

The Upper School’s “The Lightning Thief” opens tonight (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.). Shows continue tomorrow and Sunday at 7:30, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $5 at the door. Click here to read more about the show, and its director.

Kellie Comer (Photo courtesy of GFA Dragon Digest)

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Fitness studios are not often known for the art on their walls. But TAP Strength is not your average health-and-wellness spot.

The downtown space was filled last night for an art show. Miggs Burroughs, Bonnie Edelman and Alex Silver displayed their work.

Today at TAP, it’s back to working out.

Ola Bassio (left) ws the model for artist Miggs’ Burroughs sign-language work. (Photo/dan Woog)

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Also last night: The Conservative Synagogue‘s Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn and his wife Riki were feted by the New York Board of Rabbis. The couple received a 2022 Humanitarian of the Year Award, at the Pierre Hotel.

A former president of the board, Rabbi Wiederhorn’s most recent humanitarian effort was delivering clothing, food and other aid to Ukrainian refugees in Poland, in the early days of Ukraine’s war with Russia.

The rabbi and his wife were in good company last night. Former US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer received the same Humanitarian of the Year honor.

Rabbi Jeremy and Riki Wiederhorn, at last night’s awards ceremony. (Photo/Avi Kaner)

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Neither Matt Murray nor I know what kind of bird this is.

But we’re sure “06880” readers can identify today’s “Westport … Naturally” image, taken on Hillspoint Road.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … in honor of today’s Great American Smokeout:

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Roundup: Little League Champs, Maccabi Gold, Blind Rhino …

Living in the condos behind the post office, I thought I’d seen ever conceivable kind of bad parking in the Playhouse Square lot.

The combination of poor design and poor drivers is deadly. (So far, thankfully, I don’t mean that literally.)

But this scene from yesterday could be the most jaw-dropping example yet of entitlement.

And I’ve seen hundreds of others.

(Photo/Pam Long)

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Westport’s 11U District All-Star baseball team defeated Glastonbury 14-8 on Wednesday night. That’s the second straight state championship for the team!

Congratulations to Dylan Burdeshaw, Miles Delorier, Henry Ellis, Justin Goldshore, Wyatt Johnson, Christopher Lambert, Chase Landgraf, Jack McGrath, Luke Moneyhon, Torrey Rossetter, Toby Slavin, Grant Theisinger.  Nolan Walters, plus manager Justin Walters and coaches Marc Theisinger and Jon Ellis.

Now it’s on to the regional championship, started Monday in Beverly, Massachusetts. Good luck, guys!

Westport, at the previous section tournament.

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Speaking of sports: Oscar Edelman is a gold medalist.

The rising Greens Farms Academy senior just returned from Israel. He represented the US in the Maccabi Games — and his U-18 basketball team finished first.

Over 60 countries compete in the Maccabi Games — sometimes called “the Jewish Olympics. More than 600 players, from across the US, tried out for the U-18 hoops team.

Oscar — who stands an imposing 6-7 — was the second youngest on the squad.

The Americans went undefeated. They faced the host Israeli team in the finals — and won, 91-79.

Click here for the full back story, courtesy of GFA.

Oscar Edelman, at the line. (Photo/Bonnie Edelman)

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The CT Challenge Bicycle Ride rolls through here tomorrow (Saturday, July 30). The shorter rides use Beachside Avenue; the longer routes are on Long Lots and surrounding roads.

The heaviest traffic is between 7 and 10 a.m. e of Westport and surrounding towns.

This is an important fundraiser, for a great organization that helps people battling cancer, and survivors. So when you see all those riders tomorrow, slow down! 

Don’t honk. But show your support with a hearty thumbs-up! (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

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Twiddle plays 2 special shows — with Mihali and the Nth Power — today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday) at the Levitt Pavilion.

Also on the menu: Blind Rhino’s new food truck.

Former Staples High School baseball player/2003 graduate Casey 2 popular restaurants, in Black Rock and SoNo.

Now he’s got a truck too. It will be parked in the Levitt lot, serving wings and more.

Don’t just Twiddle your thumbs. Dig in!

Partners Casey Dohme (left) and Jamie Pantella with their Blind Rhino truck.

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Westport’s latest teardown is 12 Godfrey Lane.

The home off Bulkley Avenue North was more than 50 years old. The Westport Historic District Commission waived the waiting period, and the Conservation Department okayed a new larger build.

All that remains are the Bilco doors.

12 Godfrey Lane.

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It’s been a while since we ran a cat photo, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

Michael Catarevas says: “At Costco, we get free cardboard boxes to carry stuff. We put them on the floor the other day before taking them to the car to reuse, but they were taken over.”

Smart cats, for sure!

(Photo/Michael Catarevas)

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And finally … in honor of Michael “Cat”arevas’ photo (above):

(If you donate to “06880,” I promise I’ll never again post this song. Please click here to help!)

Roundup: GFA’s DMC, Cavalry Bridge, Beach Jetty …

Greens Farms Academy’s commencement ceremony yesterday had many traditional elements.

The 90 members of the Class of 2022 marched in, to “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Valedictorian Shealeigh Crombie and salutatorian Alicja Farber addressed the crowd. Head of school Bob Whelan spoke movingly of the class as a whole, and described each individual graduate with personal adjectives.

But the commencement speaker was not your usual honoree. Darryl McDaniels — co-founder of Run-DMC (the first rap group on the cover of Rolling Stone, and first inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame); an author, philanthropist and mental health advocate — took the mic, and owned the crowd.

Parents, grandparents — and of course the graduates — sat rapt, as “DMC” spoke (and rapped) about the soon-to-be-alums’ possibilities, potential and purpose.

He talked about the importance of imagination, and assured them they were well prepared for whatever lies ahead.

The recessional was as traditional as ever. But this was a GFA graduation for the record.

Darryl McDaniels delivers the commencement address.

Proud graduates’ processional.

Head of school Bob Whelan. (Photos/Dan Woog)

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Peggy Lehn had quite a day yesterday.

Doing just one errand, she saw:

  • 3 stop sign runners without a tap on the brakes
  • 2 separate cars pulling out dangerously in front of her
  • 1 U-turn on the blind corner at Greens Farms Road and Center Street.

But this one — at Maple Avenue North, near the Post Road — took the cake. (And almost the donuts and falafels.)

(Photo/Peggy Lehn)

Neither Peggy nor I know what happened. But heed her words: “Be careful out there!”

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Once again it’s graduation season. For the third year in a row, Le Rouge is distributing “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts. The goal is to give one to every graduating student in Bridgeport, when they get their diplomas.

It’s a community-wide effort, for our neighbors a few miles away. Each heart is $8. To buy one (or more!), click here.

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“Double Indemnity” — an exhibit of work by artists Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow, based on the film noir classic — is on display at the Westport Library through September 6. An opening reception is set for June 23 (6:30 p.m.).

The show also includes 3 special movie nights, all on the 19-foot screen in the Trefz Forum.

“Double Indemnity” will be shown on June 23, immediately following the reception.

“Detour” will be screened on July 7 (7 p.m.); Susan Granger hosts.

On July 14 (7 p.m.), it’s the original “Nightmare Alley.” Miggs and Ann will host.

Click here for more information.

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The long Cavalry Road reconstruction project — and its long delays — are finally over.

The bridge in Westport’s northwest corner opened yesterday, to the surprise (and delight) of the neighborhood.

It’s been closed since April 2021. If you live nearby, tell us: Was it worth the wait?

Cavalry Road bridge (Photo/Screenshot from Kristy Theisinger video)

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Speaking of reconstruction: Chris Swan has been watching the Burying Hill jetty replacement project with great interest.

He reports that all but about 12 of the second row of pilings has been set, and cut down to finished height at the top of jetty. The end is in sight!

Progress! (Photo/Chris Swan)

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Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted that dog licenses must be renewed by July 1. I included several links, from a Town Hall press release.

Town clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton sends along this all-in-one link (click here). It should cover every question — and every dog. Arf!

Cute! But register him (or her).

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Ever since COVID, Westporters have enjoyed outdoor dining — and music — on Church Lane. It’s a great experience — but the musicians don’t play for free.

The Westport Downtown Association has started a GoFundMe campaign to help. The goal is $4,000, to offset the cost of 30 evenings of music by local performers. Click here for more information, and to help.

Music on Church Lane.

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Around the corner from Church Lane, one of Westport’s most iconic buildings has been sold.

177 Main Street — the restored house at the entrance to Parker Harding Plaza, most recently home to Local to Market, and before that Talbots and (of course) the Remarkable Book Shop — was purchased by Eleish Van Breems Home Westport.

Headquartered on Franklin Street, and with stores on Railroad Place  and Nantucket, Eleish Van Breems offers “a clean, elegant and fresh approach to interiors, all with a Scandinavian essence.”

The new home of Eleish Van Breems Home.

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A small local book has just won a big book award.

“In Death, the Gift of Life” earned top honors in the “Death & Dying” category, for the 16th annual National Indie Excellence Awards.

The anthology — inspired by Dan Levinson’s experience with his father’s end-of-life passage — includes 10 Westport stories about those choices, and the challenges faced by people with terminal illnesses.

Each narrative explores men and women who faced the medical establishment head-on, then deliberately embraced grace and courage in the aftermath.

Click here to order the book. All proceeds benefit the Westport Library, Senior Center and Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County.

Mark your calendar for October 13 (7 p.m.), too. That’s the date of the official, twice-COVID-delayed launch party for the book, at the Westport Library. Click here for details.

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There’s a new resident at Willowbrook Cemetery.

This one is very much alive.

Danny Amoruccio, manager/sexton of Willowbrook Cemetery Association, says:  “This little one is hanging around Section 11. We remind everyone not to approach or bother the new fawn. We seeing so many people pestering this little guy.”

New life at Willowbrook Cemetery.

So  be a dear — leave it alone!

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They’re not around for long. But while they’re here, these Saugatuck Shores flowers make for a gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” scene.

(Photo/Diane Yormark)

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And finally … Greens Farms Academy’s choice of Darryl McDaniels as commencement speaker was inspired.

Not tricky at all.

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And The GFA Graduation Speaker Is …

Sure, the University of Delaware had President Biden (he’s an alum).

And Abby Wambach’s Loyola Marymount University speech went viral.

But Greens Farms Academy might win the prize for the coolest commencement speaker of 2022. At any level.

On Thursday, June 9, 90 seniors and their guests will gather on the front lawn at Beachside Avenue to hear inspiring words from …

… Darryl “DMC” McDaniels.

It’s certain that in GFA’s 97 years as an institution, no rapper has ever addressed the graduating class.

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels

Of course, McDaniels is much more than that.

An innovator, motivator and philanthropist, he broke cultural barriers with his legendary band Run-DMC.

The first rap group on the cover of Rolling Stone — and the first to appear on MTV — Run-DMC changed music, culture, fashion, language, and made American history.

They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2016 they received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In between, McDaniels launched a comic book company. He is the author of an autobiography, memoir and children’s book.

“The opportunity to have Darryl as GFA’s commencement speaker is a multi-generational gift,” says head of school Bob Whelan.

“Many parents of graduating seniors are very familiar with him as a member of Run DMC, and his ground-breaking career that featured multiple firsts and countless hits. At the same time, ‘It’s Tricky’ is a familiar TikTok staple for today’s youth. Most importantly, Darryl’s message in his book ‘Darryl’s Dream’ about authenticity is timeless and a perfect message for  our graduates.”

In addition to the positive messages McDaniels spreads through his books and speaking engagements, his philanthropic work sets an important example for GFA’s graduating class, Whelan notes.

He co-founded the Felix Organization , a nonprofit that provides inspiring opportunities and new experiences for children in the foster care system. He regularly talks with kids across the country about respect, responsibility and self-awareness, and has appeared before Congress and state legislatures in support of adoptees and foster children.

President Obama invited him to speak at the White House to a group of young men about fatherhood, and he worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Get Fit” Campaign.

“Our school’s mission describes preparing young people for lives of purpose, and Darryl’s life story is one that highlights the importance of becoming the most authentic versions of ourselves,” says Whelan.

“He also speaks openly about the obstacles and challenges one faces along the journey, as someone who struggled with depression and has gone on to become a mental health advocate. He reminds young people that they can do hard things.”

This should be a great graduation, with an inspiring message.

And here’s hoping that when he’s finished speaking, and the Greens Farms Academy graduates line up to receive their diplomas, Darryl McDaniels gives them just one instruction: “Walk this way.”

Roundup: COVID Testing, GFA Holiday …

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A few weeks ago, I wondered how long the Same Day Health COVID testing clinic near Fortuna’s would stay in business.

Now I know: Quite a while longer.

A reader wrote last night: “After receiving the superintendent of schools’ COVID update (and knowing 2 of my own fully vaccinated children were part of that number), I thought this photo was relevant — and so sad that here we are again.

“I’ve been to Same Day Health every day this week (and luckily continue to test negative) — but today there was a line! Evan, Diego and Nadeen (we are on first name basis now, because of my frequency) said each day is busier than the previous one. Thank goodness they are kind and patient souls.

“I’m scared what January will bring — even for the fully vaccinated and boosted.”

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On a lighter note, Greens Farms Academy head Bob Whelan strikes again.

He’s already internet famous for 2 snow day announcements (click here and here).

Now he’s produced a holiday video that will be the gold standard for all educators, everywhere. Click below, smile — and give thanks for educators like Bob!

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We’re always looking for “Westport … Naturally” firsts. Here’s our premiere mushroom photo. It’s from the Weston Road/Main Street area. Is there anything that doesn’t grow here?

(Photo/Joan Battino)

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And finally … tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Roundup: Ramadan, Michael Douglas, Daffodils …

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It’s a Ramadan tradition for Muslims to visit civil service offices, meet executive officers in person, and thank them for their contributions.

Yesterday, Feroz Virani, Adil Kassam and Tameeza Asaria — members of the Ismaili Muslim community — presented 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Fire Chief Robert Yost with a gift of appreciation.

At Town Hall …

… Police headquarters …

… and the fire station. (Photos courtesy of Town of Westport)

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Westport Republican Town Committee member Jim Campbell has tossed his hat in the ring: for chair of the Connecticut Republican Party.

A former chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee whose early and avid support of Donald Trump was chronicled in Evan Osnos’ New Yorker story “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump,” Campbell is an executive with Frontier Communications.

Jim Campbell

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The cover story for AARP Magazine’s April/May issue is Michael Douglas.

In a long interview about his life and career, the 76-year-old actor mentions his teenage years in Westport:

I was into hot rods, tinkering with cars. I worked at a Mobil station at one point, and my first real award was Mobil Man of the Month. I was also a member of a group called the Downshifters. A little bit like the Jets in West Side Story: [sings] “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.”

I had a D.A. — when you’d comb your hair to look like a duck’s ass — the D.A., we called it. We were known to spend a little time locating automobiles that had parts that we wanted. Not proud about it, but it kept me out of a lot of other trouble.

Click here for the full interview.

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Scott Smith writes: “I can’t remember a prettier season for daffodils and forsythia. I read an New York Times article on tulips that suggested the snow cover this winter may have helped. I

“I don’t recall buying any type of daffodil with multiple blooms, though I know some such varieties exist. So when I spotted this pretty bloom in my yard, I wondered if I have some sort of self-evolved mutant. Anybody else around town have this sort of daffodil?”

Daffodil lovers: Click “Comments” to respond!

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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Speaking of blooms: The Westport Garden Club’s annual plant sale has a new venue: Jesup Green. The date is Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).

Also new this year: the option to pre-order plants online, for curbside pickup. The ordering page goes live May 1, at http://westportgardenclub.org.

Held annual since 1928 (except during World War II, and last year’s pandemic), the event features over 1,000 homegrown perennials from members’ own gardens, with a special section of Connecticut native plants. Club members will be on site, for advice. Each plant has a tag with care information too.

The Westport Book Shop — across Jesup Green — will offer a selection of garden books.

Proceeds from the sale — and the club’s booth at the Westport Museum for History & Culture’s May 1 Spring Market — support the club’s projects, including maintenance of local public gardens and parks. For more information, click here.

Getting ready for the sale.

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Westporter Melissa Bernstein has been very open about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression. LifeLines — the multimedia platform recently launched, in collaboration with Doug, her husband and fellow Melissa & Doug toy company founder — has gotten great publicity.

One of the most in-depth and powerful stories was just published in the Washington Post. Click here to read. (Hat tip: Marc Selverstone)

Melissa Bernstein reads her “LifeLines” book.

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Food insecurity and cancer are both difficult situations. Too often, they go together.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Pink Aid is helping struggling moms feed their families. With every the breast cancer support group will purchase food cards for women battling both breast cancer and financial hardship.

Pink Aid will send every donor’s mother a card acknowledging the meaningful gift. For every donation of $100 or more, they’ll send the donor (or donor’s mom) a reusable insulated grocery bag. Click here to donate.

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From the Cincinnati Reds to Greens Farms Academy. That’s the unusual career path for the private school’s new athletic director. Eric Lee — senior director of player development for the MLB team — begins his next job in early July. He replaces Tauni Butterfield, who is moving to North Carolina after 2 decades at the Beachside Avenue school.

Lee’s 8 years with the Reds includes stints at director of baseball operations and senior director of international operations. He played baseball at Haverford, where he earned a BA i political science. He then taught world history and coached coaches baseball at basketball at Hawaii Preparatory Academy before returning to Haverford as an assistant dean of students and assistant baseball coach. He also worked and coached at National Presbyterian School in Washington, DC — and earned a law degree from the University of Maryland.

Eric Lee

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And finally … on this day in 1965 Luciano Pavarotti mad his La Scala debut in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of “La Bohème.” Here he is, 21 years later:

Roundup: Kids’ Grief, Senate Parliamentarian, More

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Kids are resilient.

We say that a lot. Partly, it’s true. Partly, we want to believe it.

But COVID has caused grief for many youngsters. They’ve lost relatives. They fear others may suffer and die. They’ve lost so much of their own normal lives. And there’s so much uncertainty, day after day after day.

Experience Camps knows a lot about grief. The national, no-cost program for grieving children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver runs great summer camps for children and teens.

When the coronavirus derailed last year’s programs, they focused instead on raising awareness of the many facets of childhood grief.

A key part of that effort is a Zoom panel discussion next Tuesday (March 2, 2 p..m.). Experts from a variety of perspectives will discuss “How the Pandemic of Grief is Impacting Kids.”

Experience Camps founder Sara Deren says the audience is “anyone and everyone. Everyone is grieving now. This is not just for professionals. If you have or know kids, it’s important to understand COVID’s impact on them.”

Click here to register, and for more information.

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There’s always a Westport connection to national news.

When the US Senate parliamentarian ruled against yesterday that raising the minimum wage to $15 violated budgetary rules limiting what can be included in the legislation, at least 2 “06880” readers wondered: Who exactly is this parliamentarian.

Google (and Wikipedia) provided the answer: She is Elizabeth MacDonough. And although she grew up near Washington, DC, she graduated from Greens Farms Academy in 1984.

The New York Times reports that MacDonough — the first woman in the post — has “retained both the position and bipartisan respect under the leadership of both parties since she was named in 2012.”

Not much else is known about her local ties. If you’ve got more — or her remember her from GFA — click “Comments” below. (Hat tip: Clark Thiemann)

Elizabeth MacDonough:  (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

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One of the town’s most important — and least publicized — honors is the James S. Bacharach Service to the Community Award.

Presented annually for the last 32 years by the Westport Youth Commission to one or more high school seniors who live in or attend school in town, it recognizes significant service to Westport. Bacharach founded and served as president of the Youth Adult Council. He was also deeply involved in the organization that is now Homes with Hope.

Any Westporter — adult or student — can nominate a high school senior. Nominees should have a strong record of community service within Westport. Click here for a nomination form.

Submissions must be accompanied by 2 references. A maximum of 2 letters of support can be uploaded to the application or emailed separately to kgodburn@westportct.gov. The deadline is March 26.

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Last night’s nearly full moon was big.

But not as big as it was as seen through the Westport Astronomical Society’s telescope, at Rolnick Observatory.

Franco Fellah sends along this shot, and points out the prominence of the Tycho impact crater on the right.

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

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And finally … there are some red-letter birthdays today. Johnny Cash was born February 25, 1932. He died in 2003.

Fats Domino was born on this date in 1928. He died in 2017.

And of course Victor Hugo, born today in 1802. He died in 1885.

Roundup: Recycling, GFA Graduation, Chocolate, More

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Business travel is way down. So we don’t see lines of drivers waiting with signs at airports, picking up executives.

Instead we’ve got lines of parents waiting at elementary schools, picking up children. All they need are signs.

This was the scene the other day at Saugatuck. The line of cars extended beyond Assumption Church.

(Photo/Felicia Sale)

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Leigh Gage writes: “Has anyone else noticed trash and recycling trucks at the transfer center backing up to dump trash mixed with recycling into the dumpster?

“The sound of glass breaking drew my attention to several trucks dumping everything into the closest dumpster. An attendant said that whatever people leave out for pickup gets dumped together.

“Residents: {lease don’t put both garbage and recycling out on the same day.

“And refuse companies: Please instruct your drivers to not pick up recycling except on the day it’s supposed to be picked up.

“I wonder if residents sign up for once a week service to save money, then put recycling out with the garbage.”

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It’s mid-February, so at Greens Farms Academy they’re getting ready for … graduation.

The private school on Beachside Avenue has announced its speakers. Wes Moore will deliver the commencement address on June 10. The night before, Mike Greenberg keynotes GFA’s first-ever baccalaureate.

Moore is the CEO of the the poverty-fighting foundation Robin Hood, best-selling author, combat veteran, White House fellow and social entrepreneur. His story is uplifting and inspiring.

Westport resident Mike Greenberg is the host of ESPN’s morning show “Get Up!,” a GFA trustee and (most importantly) the father graduating senior Stephen and alumna Nikki. A member of 2 Halls of Fame and an author of 5 best-sellers, he and his wife Stacy donate all proceeds to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

GFA’s graduation should be one for the books.

And for the public. After the event, the school will post Moore’s speech on their website.

Mike Greenberg

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This Valentine’s weekend — actually, all month — Le Rouge by Aarti’s “Give a Little Love” campaign continues.

10% of all February sales will be donated to local food banks. It’s one more way Westport’s favorite chocolatier helps those in need.

Stop by the 190 Main Street store — or browse online, and request curbside pickup, delivery or shipping. Sweeeeeet!

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Adam Stolpen reminds us that yesterday was Tina Louise’s 87th birthday.

Ginger — the last surviving member of the “Gilligan’s Island” castaways — lived with her mother, Betty Meyers, at 19 Bluewater Hill.

Adam knows that factoid because his family moved in there in 1959, when Tina’s family moved out. 

But that still doesn’t answer the question: Why did all the castaways have so many different clothes, when all they were planning was go on a 3-hour tour?

Tina Louise, then and now.

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And finally … Americans used to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, and George Washington’s 10 days later. Now, both have been rolled into “Presidents Day.” The 2 giants share the day with the likes of William Henry Harrison, Warren Harding and Donald Trump. Ah, progress!

Roundup: Churches, Safety App, GFA Athletes, More


For many years, Saugatuck Church collected baby gifts during their 5 p.m. Christmas Eve pageant. They were donated to women and children, through the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Norwalk.

Tonight, that worship is online. However, the church continues its tradition of gathering gifts to benefit women and children in crisis. And you don’t have to be a parishioner to help!

Just stop at the white church downtown (245 Post Road East) between 4 and 5 p.m. today. Pop your trunk; a volunteer will retrieve your gift.

This has been a very tough year, for women, children and the DVCC itself. Items needed include supplies and pajamas for babies, as well as crafts for older children.


Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted that Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara is starring in a PBS holiday special.

She also did a much more local performance, at (and for) Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. (Her daughter Charlotte is a junior chorister there.)

You can enjoy Kelli — and many others — starting at 6 p.m. tonight. Just click on the CHT YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Kelli O’Hara at Christ & Holy Trinity Church.


M13 has led a $1.8M seed round in Prepared, a company building technology to keep school campuses safer. It was co-founded at Yale University by Staples graduates Dylan Gleicher and Neil Soni.

Prepared’s 1-touch mobile alert system enables administrators to instantaneously alert both the entire campus and 911 dispatchers to an emergency. Click here for a full story.

Neil Soni and Dylan Gleicher


Three Greens Farms Academy student-athletes from Westport have committed to colleges, to continue their academic and sports careers.

Connor McDonald will play tennis at Boston College; Piper Melnick plans to row at the University of California-Berkeley, and Mark Roszkowski heads off to Tufts University’s baseball team.

Congratulations to all 3 Dragons!

From left: Connor McDonald, Piper Melnick and Mark Roszkowski.


And finally … as always, The Band is there: