Tag Archives: Green’s Farms Academy

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:

Greatest. Snow Video. Ever!

In his tenure as head of Greens Farms Academy, Bob Whelan has made some amazing Snow Day announcement videos.

Each time, he sets the bar higher for himself.

But now he’s exceeded even his own stratospheric expectations.

Earlier today, GFA families were treated to a work of genius. It was Michelangelo, Mozart and Messi, rolled into one.

Gather ’round the fire. Pop the popcorn. And click below to enjoy!

PS: Why is no one (except Whelan, in the intro) wearing masks?

It was shot in the fall of 2019. But — damn! — there was not a single snow day all last year.

Friday Flashback #208

The big day is Tuesday. Nearly 6 months after closing — and a week after the original date — students return to Westport schools.

Many things will be different. They’ll attend in shifts: half in classrooms, half studying remotely. Desks will be 6 feet apart. Some hallways will be one-way. And those are just a few of the changes COVID has wrought.

Some youngsters have not even driven past their schools in half a year. To remind them of what they look like, here is a special “Friday Flashback” drone gallery. All images are courtesy of multi-talented and spectacular Staples High School senior Brandon Malin. (Click on or hover over any photo to enlarge.)

To start off, here’s the school he’s headed back to:

Bedford Middle School

Coleytown Middle School (construction project)

Coleytown Elementary School 

Greens Farms Elementary School

Kings HIghway Elementary School

Long Lots Elementary School

Saugatuck Elementary School

Bonus feature: Greens Farms Academy (All drone photos/Brandon Malin)

Roundup: Old Mill Parking; GFA; Senior Center; More


Starting today, the Old Mill Beach parking lot is fully re-opened.

That means a reversion to previous rules: Parking is available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.

As in the past, Parks and Recreation Department staff will strictly enforce all parking regulations.


Greens Farms Academy has announced plans for in-person, on-campus instruction, 5 days a week, beginning September 1.

The private school on Beachside Avenue has spent the summer making numerous preparations — everything from changing physical spaces and furniture, to mandating one-way building pathways, to delivering lunch to assigned spaces.

One more change; There will be no formal uniform at GFA this year.

Meanwhile,  the fall sports season will look different this year. The Fairchester Athletic Association has canceled all regular season games and tournaments. The league cited “differing return-to- school plans and academic models” for its member schools, in light of COVID-19, as the reason.

However, GFA says, the league’s announcement does not preclude the school from scheduling interscholastic opportunities between and among like schools, if able.


The Senior Center is sponsoring 3 interesting events this month.

Next Thursday, August 6 (10 a.m., Zoom meeting), a Westport Weston Health District panel will discuss COVID-19 in Connecticut. Viewers can ask questions too. Click here for the link.

A Caregiver Support Group meets on Wednesdays (August 5 and 19, September 2 and 16, 10 a.m.). Positive Directons’ Terry Giegengack will facilitate the sessions. For more information, call Holly Betts (203-341-5096) or email hbetts@westportct.gov.

Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities hosts a free summer concert series in August and September. The stars are local musicians. First up (August 14, 1:30 p.m.): pianist Mathew Graybil, who has played around the world. He’ll feature works by Chopin, Schubert and Brahms. Click here for the Zoom link.

The Senior Center is closed. But programs continue.


At Staples High School, 2004 alum Charlie Stoebe was a soccer and track star (and captain). He graduated from Dartmouth College, and is now working with NBC Sports.

Charlie is multi-talented. In his spare COVID-related time, he created a new party game.

“What Was the Question?” tests how well you know your friends and family. But unlike most getting-to-know-you games, it starts not with a question, but an answer. Players must figure out the question. After each reveal there are fun discussions on the answer the player gave, and the predictions everyone else made.

“What Was the Question?” is now in Kickstarter mode. To help get it to market — and help out a really great Staples grad — click here.


And finally … Danish pianist Bent Fabricius-Bjerre died yesterday at 95. You may know him as Bent Fabric. Or maybe you just know his most famous song:

COVID-19 Roundup: Property Tax Info; Ringing Bells; Harrowing Survival Story; Online Fitness And Yoga; Free Resumes; More

Several readers have wondered about Westport real estate and personal property tax abatement or deferral (they’re due today — April 1. No fooling). I asked 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. He says:

For several weeks, our town (and others) have been exploring deferment alternatives for property owners who can demonstrate genuine hardship. This is still a work in process.

Among other things, the governor must take executive order steps to allow a local community the option to modify property tax payment penalties and deadlines. I have been in direct touch with Governor Lamont on this issue. In the meantime the April 1 quarterly tax payment date still remains, but as always, allows 30 days (until May 1) to pay without penalty.

I have not heard if utility companies plan to offer any special dispensation for hardship cases. Our Human Services Department regularly works with residents on utility payment plans if true need can be demonstrated.

In related news, Governor Lamont announced yesterday a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments, and a 60-day delay on foreclosures. Homeowners should contact their banks and/or mortgage companies for details.


Across the country, communities are coming together to ring bells in support of medical personnel and other frontline workers.

From 5:00 to 5:02 p.m. tonight, Westport families are asked to “joyously sound a bell, chime, bang pans, etc. as a reminder that while we may be physically separated, we remain united. Let’s make this a gesture of gratitude to all the people helping us overcome this present situation: the police department, fire department, first responders, town officials, teachers and healthcare workers, including the many Westport parents who leave their families to care for those in need at hospitals and medical offices.”

Greens Farms and Assumption Churches — and perhaps others — will join in. Ring them bells! (Hat tips: Jaclyn Lindsey-Noble and Staples High School PTA)

In addition, reader Mary Beth Stirling urges Westporters to fly the American flag. That — and donations to any organization that helps those in need — are both a show of support, and a way to teach children that whatever they can do (including staying home to protect lives) is a patriotic act.

Green’s Farms Congregational Church has a great bell to ring.


“06880” readers know Heather Bauer for her tips on eating healthy in restaurants.

Now the rest of America knows her as a COVID-19 survivor. The 42-year-old nutritionist/mother of 3/ runner of 15 marathons was in great health — until she attended a party, and got infected.

Two days ago — just a week after leaving Yale New Haven Hospital, where she spent 9 harrowing days — Heather told her story on CNN.

It’s a scary tale of fever, migraine headaches, a full body rash, even possible meningitis. It’s also a tale of great care, by a wonderful medical staff. Click below to watch. (Hat tip: Ben Sturner)


Patty Kondub’s great water aerobics classes have been beached by the coronavirus. So have dozens of other Westport Weston Family YMCA offerings, in strength training, yoga — you name it.

But members can still get exercise — on land, at home. There are offerings for all ages, in every imaginable category. Click here for info.

PS: Yesterday, I (coincidentally) got a call from the Y. They were just checking in on all members — seeing how we are, and what we need.

I really need to swim. But failing that, I’d like to say this: THANKS, Y! What a nice, friendly, community touch!

A motivational message from Patty Kondub.


Speaking of exercise, Kaia Yoga’s classes are now all online. Many are inexpensive. There are also free kids’ classes and meditations — great for parents looking for productive activities.

Kaia Yoga — which has long provided classes for Bridgeport school children –has been hit hard by the coronavirus. They employ over 70 teachers.

Click here for a list of classes.


Speaking (again) of exercise, does anyone have an unused stationary bike they’re willing to sell? Asking for (ahem) a friend.


Every Westporter has a talent. Many are figuring out how to use their expertise to help others.

As a career coach, Jaki Suter helps clients write or refresh resumes. With so many people suddenly facing job losses, she’s doing her part: offering a “free resume refresh” to 30 Westport and Weston residents.

She’ll work with you to highlight skills and accomplishments; include new positions and details, and eliminate irrelevant details.

All you need is an existing resume no more than 5 years old. You’ll work by phone. Jaki will produce an updated resume, including a round of revisions and a final document.

To be one of the first 30 local residents, email jaki@sutergroup.com (subject line: “Free Resume Refresh”).


Jennifer Hrbek reports that she and Westport psychiatrist Dr. Mohamed Elsamra are helping raise $50,000 to buy 4 ventilators, to be donated to local hospitals. Click here to contribute.


Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich notes that transfer station personnel cannot assist with bulky waste. Do not bring those items to the station.

In addition, with the increase in cardboard due to online ordering, all boxes should be flattened, stacked and tied.

Tissues and gloves are being placed in recycling bins. They are not recyclable, and must be placed in the regular trash bin.

Due to the increased amount of glass containers, recycling bins are too heavy for workers to lift. For the time being, residents should separate glass into a smaller container, or put all recycling in smaller containers so workers can lift them.

Transfer station


Greens Farms Academy head of school Bob Whelan has gained fame — and respect — for his great snow day videos.

It’s a little tougher to pull off a clever coronavirus video. But the popular, people-first educator did.

This morning he channeled Fred Rogers, for the school’s youngest learners. Bob —  whose career before education was fronting the band Angry Salad — sang for his students.

He reminded them he (and the school) were still there for them. Then, in true Mr. Rogers fashion he asked them to keep him apprised of big events, like birthdays and lost teeth.

You don’t have to be a kid — or go to GFA — to love this one.


Miriam Young writes, “As one of many COVID positive people in Westport, I hope you can tell other positive readers about efforts to collect plasma from recovered patients.”

She sent a link to a story on how plasma might help people still fighting off infection (or, preemptively, those at high risk of infection).


When Westporter John Rizzi read that a TV remote can be 20 times dirtier than your toilet, he got worried. You can’t clean it well, without taking it all apart.

But he devised a solution: cover it in plastic wrap. It takes 2 seconds; it protects the device — and you can replace the wrap over and over again.


And finally, you don’t have to be a Kopite to love this song (and video!):

Lil Tecca, Greens Farms Academy, And The Greatest Sleep-In Video Ever

Last year, Greens Farms Academy head Bob Whelan — and friends like Domonique Foxworth, Marcus Spears, Jalen Rose and Mike Greenberg — produced the world’s greatest snow-day announcement ever.

Don’t believe me? Click here!

Bob was all set to top that this year. There was just one problem: No snow.

No problem!

This afternoon, he sent a video to all upper school students and parents.

Tomorrow is not a snow day. But it is a sleep-in/late start day. At GFA, apparently, there is a god.

And he has a direct line to Lil Tecca.

Don’t believe me? Click below!

(Hat tip: Michelle Levi)

The Art Of Golf Balls

Like many “06880” readers, Heather Heenehan was grossed out by a recent Pic of the Day. It showed dozens of golf balls floating in the water near Longshore’s Hendricks Point driving range.

They weren’t the only place the Greens Farms Academy teacher had seen them.

Last October, her Oceanography class found a golf ball during their monthly survey of the nearby Burying Hill Beach shoreline.

Curious, they picked it up.

Then they found more, nestled in the rocks. They picked them up too, to clean the beach.

The students realized they now had important evidence of marine debris. They continued the project in Heenehan’s Marine Biology class this spring.

The Marine Biology class at Burying Hill Beach, earlier this spring. (Photo/Heather Heenehan)

They learned that in the water, golf balls break down into small pieces of plastic that are unhealthy for marine organisms to digest.

In addition, they’re covered in toxic zinc.

But what to do with the 121 golf balls they’d collected — a small fraction of the amount in Long Island Sound? How could they draw attention to what they’d found?

Artwork!

They were inspired by Alex Weber, a California high school student who also noticed golf balls around her coast. She and a few friends collected 50,000 (!).

Heenehan’s students cut and painted their golf balls into a mural.

The bottom layer represents the land along the shoreline: green representing seaweed, brown and tan for rocks and sand.

The middle piece portrays the oceans, with various creatures scattered throughout.

The top piece is the sky and sunset.

Fore!

The Greens Farms Academy mural.

(Hat tip: Dawn Henry)