Tag Archives: Greens Farms Elementary School

Greens Farms El Salutes Veterans

There’s a good reason why Westport schools are in session on Veterans Day.

It’s a chance for students to learn the meaning of the holiday. Some classes have special discussions. Some buildings hold special assemblies.

At Greens Farms Elementary School, youngsters hear from veterans themselves. Some served in long-ago wars. Others — including the father of at least 2 current students — are serving now.

Greens Farms School principal Kevin Cazzetta welcomes Lieutenant Commander Ryan Weddle, father of students Ben and John. He has served in the US Navy since 2008, with deployments to Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Qatar.

Each year, teachers organize a ceremony. Several dozen servicemen and women are honored. This year, nearly two dozen took the stage.

Veterans on stage. The “Missing Man” table in front is decorated with symbols representing missing family members (rose), love for country (red ribbon), tears shed for those lost (salt), missing soldiers 9inverted) glass and hope (lit candle).

They were serenaded with songs of all the armed forces branches — including, this year, the new Space Force tune.

The Greens Farms PtA sponsors a reception too.

GFS 3rd grade teacher Karen Frawley (right) with her mother Doris Serbu Seipel. She is a first lieutenant in the Air Force Nurse Corps, and a captain in the New York State National Guard.

“It’s the best assembly of the year, every year,” says longtime music teacher Suzanne Sherman Propp. “It’s really heartwarming.”

Greens Farms 3rd graders are ready.

She helped organize the event, with colleagues Amy Murtagh, Karen Frawley, Dan Seek, Jason Hubball, Catherine Vanech and Lisa Doran.

Greens Farms Elementary School 3rd grade teachers (from left): Karen Frawley, Catherine Vanech, Amy Murtagh, Jason Hubball.

Former Bedford Middle School math teacher Salpi Tokatlian (right) with her granddaughter, GFS 2nd grader Ella, and husband Sgt. Matthew Charles Tokatlian, US Army 1968-71. He served in Vietnam, and earned a Sharpshooter Medal.

(Hat tip and all photos: Suzanne Sherman Propp)

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Roundup: Taste Of Westport, Juneteenth, You Be You Day …

“A Taste of Westport” returned yesterday, after a 2-year COVID absence.

A record crowd — starved for great food for an even better cause — showed up at the Inn at Longshore. It was the perfect venue for the festive, almost-summer event.

A small portion of the large “Taste of Westport” crowd at the Inn at Longshore.

The traditional fundraiser for CLASP — the local non-profit celebrating its 40th year serving adults with autism and developmental disabilities — featured plenty of tasting stations, live music from the Bar Car Band`, a silent auction and a raffle.

Restaurants and vendors participating included Artisan, BE Chocolat, Black Bear Wines & Spirits, Boathouse, Cylinder, Evarito’s, Freixenet Mionetto, Little Dumpling House, Gabriele’s, La Plage, Little Pub, Lindsay’s Handmade, Mrs. London’s, Newsylum, Nordic Fish, Post Oak, Rive Bistro, Rizzuto’s, Romanacci, Tablao, Tarantino, The Spread and Walrus Alley.

It’s not an easy time to own a restaurant. Last night, all of them went above and beyond the call.

Artisan offered (among other items) a very tasty goat dish. Inn at Longshore principal Michael Ryan is at right. (Photos/Dan Woog)

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On June 19, 1865, Union troops  liberated enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas. Fifteen men from Westport took part, with the 29th Connecticut Colored Infantry Regiment.

For years, the day was informally called “Juneteenth.” Finally, it’s a federal holiday (Monday, June 20).

The Westport Museum for History & Culture celebrates with 2 events.

Tonight (Thursday, June 16, 7 p.m.) historic interpreter Dontavius Williams offers a virtual performance of the experiences of an enslaved man. Click here to register.

A walking tour — based on a 2018-19 exhibit about Westport’s African American history — is set for Saturday June 18 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.). Click here to register.

The Westport Museum’s walking tour will include a stop at historic 22 1/2 Main Street.

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The Levitt Pavilion has never looked better.

As a quasi-town, quasi-private facility, the Pavilion itself is responsible for maintaining its ornamental plantings and beds — including the ones between the Riverwalk and lawn.

Every year, Friends of the Levitt volunteers answer the call. This year, Gault Energy helped out by donating all the mulch.

So the next time you enjoy a free show — enjoy the “free” scenery too.

Work day at the Levitt Pavilion.. (Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

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It was “You Be You Day” yesterday, at Westport’s elementary schools.

The night before, Kings Highway families helped “chalk the walk.”

Kings Highway 1st grader Siena Adams helps chalk the walk. Her mother, Cori Caputo Adams; is a Kings Highway and Staples High School (Class of 1994) alumnus.

Dozens of youngsters and parents wrote kind, motivating chalk messages on the walkway in front of the school. The goal was to encourage every student to be proud of who he or she is — and to feel proud too of being part of a community that accepts and celebrates them exactly as they are.

In the morning, KHS staff and students were greeted with colorful, positive sayings. It was a great start to “You Be You Day,” says PTA board member Meghan Bell.

Meanwhile, Greens Farms Elementary School celebrated in several ways.

Teachers read books with positive messages to their classes. Youngsters wore “You Be You” shirts. The sidewalk was chalked

And there was this bulletin board too:

(Photo courtesy of Leann Duggan)

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The Westport Kiwanis Club provides annual scholarships to graduating seniors who show exemplary community involvement and academic achievement.

This year’s recipients are Lena Lemcke, Elena Lim, Jaden Mueller and Ella Williams.

Funds come from Kiwanis’ annual Minuteman Triathlon. This year’s’ event is September 11, at Compo Beach. Click here for information and registration.

Kiwanis officials and scholarship recipients, at the recent awards ceremony (from left): Todd Ehrlich, Dave Fuggit, Jaden Mueller, Judy Stripp, Lena Lemcke, Rob Gould, Elena Lim, Elaine Daignault. Not pictured: Ella Williams.

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Osprey admirer/expert Carolyn Doan visited the Fresh Market nest this week. She was happily surprised to find “2 heads being shaded by mom. They must have been hot, as their mouths were open in the sun directly on the nest.

“They seemed to be having a serious chat with her. She listened patiently. She made a quick trip away from the nest. When she returned, they were thrilled.”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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What could be more mundane than a midday chat?

Martin Greenberg captured this scene, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Martin Greenberg)

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And finally … in honor of our elementary schools’ great “You Be You Day” yesterday:

 

 

  

 

Unsung Hero #231

The last time we checked in with Virginia “Ginny” Jaffe, she was busy making masks.

In the year that Westport Masks — the group she co-founded — was in operation, they donated over 5,600 masks to frontline responders and workers, the elderly, and organizations in need. With money they received, they also gave $2,500 to local food pantries, and funded 5,000 meals. Not too shabby!

Ginny Jaffe, in her workroom during the Westport Masks project.

 

A year later, Ginny continues to give back.

Her twins no longer attend Greens Farms Elementary School. But when the school’s music director Suzanne Sherman Propp and orchestra leader Ellen Hardy decided to stage “Willy Wonka Kids” as their first show in 2 years, they thought of her.

She’d created most of the costumes for previous GFS plays. Could she help again?

“Sure!” Ginny said.

So — although she is no longer a GFS parent — she has now sewn all 60 costumes for the kids. She spent over 350 hours on the volunteer project.

A few of Ginny Jaffe’s costumes.

She had help from Liz Leary, whose 5th grade son plays the Candy Man. Liz helped cut fabric and label all 480 items.

Liz Leary provided valuable cutting and labeling help.

“It was a good way to give back to Westport,” Ginny says. “Ms. Propp and Ms. Hardy are amazing, doing this o top of everything else.”

So is Ginny — no longer an official Greens Farms El parent, but our Unsung Hero of the Week!

“Willy Wonka Kids” is a great show — with amazing costumes.

Roundup: Neighborhood Meetings, Beach And Housing Bills, Ukraine Help

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For a small town, we’ve got plenty of neighborhoods.

And 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker is focusing on all of them.

In coordination with the Public Works, Planning & Zoning and Public Safety Departments, she’s organized meetings with residents of all 9 RTM districts. The focus is on traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety concerns, and how town officials are reacting to them.

Meetings will include officials and employees with knowledge of traffic management, roadway conditions, engineering and speed calming solutions, as well as the regulations and oversight authority of the town.

The meetings are set for Thursdays at 7 p.m., in the Town Hall auditorium. Click here for a map of all RTM districts.

Date District
Thursday, March 17, 2022 District 1
Thursday, March 24, 2022 District 4
Thursday, April 7, 2022 District 6
Thursday, April 14, 2022 District 7
Thursday, April 21, 2022 District 8
Thursday, April 28, 2022 District 9
Thursday, May 5, 2022 District 2
Thursday, May 12, 2022 District 3
Thursday, May 19, 2022 District 5
Thursday, May 26, 2022 Make Up

Concerned about traffic in your neighborhood? Go to a meeting!

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Recently, “06880” posted stories about a pair of bills working their way through the state legislature. One would prohibit towns from imposing different access fees for beaches on residents and non-residents; the other would permit up to 15 housing units per acre within half a mile of train stations.

Both will be up for discussion via Zoom this Monday (March 14, 10 a.m.).

State Senator Tony Hwang says that residents wishing to testify must register by 3 p.m. Sunday. They should send a brief email to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov. They should reference the bill number (HB 5361 for beaches; HB 5429 for housing), and include your name and town.

Click here on Monday, to watch the hearing live.


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Like many local institutions, Wakeman Town Farm is thinking about Ukraine — and wondering how to help.

The sustainability center says:

Our friends in Ukraine are moms and dads just like us. They love their families, nature, animals, local farms and community. During this time of great need, we have put together a grassroots collection effort that will allow you to drop off or send select medical supplies to any of 3 local sites: Wakeman Town Farm in Westport, Lachat Town Farm in Weston, and Ambler Farm in Wilton.

Click here for a list of medical supplies needed. You can order from Amazon, and have them shipped to you (to bring to one of the collection sites), or shipped directly to Wakeman Town Farm (134 Cross Highway, Westport, CT 06880; Lachat Town Farm, 106 Godfrey Road West, Weston, CT 06883; Ambler Farm, 257 Hurlbutt Street, Wilton, CT 06897). The deadline is 1 p.m., March 18.

We will collect from each farm, and bring them to a site where they will be  shipped to Ukraine.

Wakeman Town Farm will accept either mail deliveries at 134 Cross Highway, Westport, CT 06680, or unboxed drop-offs up at the farm’s plastic bins at the Wakeman Drive entrance off Cross Highway. Items must arrive by 1 p.m. on March 18 to be included.

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How else to help? Ukrainian-Westporter Stephan Taranko says:

“A number of Ukrainians have formed groups to collect needed items and send them to Ukraine. My cousin Victoria joined such a group. They started an Amazon Gift List, listing the items currently needed. They also chipped in to pay the freight, but I suggested to add another line in the gift list if people want to defray some of the shipping cost.

Click here for a link we created with my cousin Natalia. Everything is being delivered to her office, where she packs it and sends to Ukraine.”

Stephan adds that his cousin Victoria’s father is a teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk. Although he has a green card and can evacuate to the US any time, he has taken up arms to fight the Russians.

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St. Luke Church is mourning the sudden death of Monsignor Andrew Varga. He was 69 years old.

A wake is set for Thursday, March 17 (3 to 6:45 p.m.), followed by a Vigil Mass at 7 p.m.

Visiting hours are Friday, March 18 (9:30 to 10:30 a.m.), followed by a funeral mass at 11 a.m.

The parish has set up a memorial with candles in the sanctuary, and a web page honoring Monsignor Andy.

Monsignor Andrew Varga

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Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” is called “Native Plant Guilds: What Grows Together, Grows Together.”

It’s Wednesday, March 16 (noon to 1:15 p.m., Zoom). Anna Failkoff, ecological programs manager of Wild Seed Project, will talk about native plant guilds. Those are groupings that make it easier to design a landscape with appealing texture, color and wildlife value.

Click here to learn more, and register.

Anna Fialkoff

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Among the many casualties of COVID: Elementary school plays.

It’s a big deal for youngsters to work their way up the casting ladder, from 3rd grade extras to 5th grade stars. But with stages dark, one more rite of passage was halted.

Now Greens Farms School is back. Their production of “Willy Wonka Kids” is gleefully anticipated by all the boys and girls — and not just because the curtain will once again rise.

Directors Suzanne Sherman Propp and Ellen Hardy opened every role to any gender. Willy Wonka will be played by Leanne Mitev.

The show is set for next Friday and Saturday (March 18. 7 p.m. and 19, noon and 1:45 p.m.). Click here for tickets, and more information.

Greens Farms Elementary School rehearses “Willy Wonka Kids.”

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Jo Shields Sherman describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo as the struggle of 3 seasons. She writes:

“Winter’s snowfall has trouble sticking and icy water drips from the ivy; fall’s leaves and the indomitable remnants of a Halloween pumpkin improbably remain, and spring’s snowdrop flowers (crowned by the indignity of a fallen raft of lichen) seem to be growing out of the rock. Summer can’t be that far off!

“Buggy, our doggie, looks intrigued by the confusing display of our New England seasons. But I think she’s caught the scent of her favorite wildlife: chipmunk!”

(Photo/Jo Shields Sherman)

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And finally … as the situation in Ukraine continues to transfix the world, Mark Yurkiw — whose parents emigrated from there in 1949 — sends a YouTube link to “A Moonlight Night:  The Most Beautiful Ukrainian Song(Dedicated to All Brave Ukrainian People).”

It’s a song he grew up with. Now as the bombs fall, he says, it brings tears to his eyes.

This Is Sid Kumar’s World

“Geography” does not have a good name.

The subject evokes dull concepts like capital cities, rivers and mountain ranges. It’s not the sexiest subject on the planet.

But that rep is wrong. Geography captivates Sid Kumar. The Greens Farms Elementary School 5th grader has used it to learn about music, religions, cuisines, currencies and much more.

And it’s earned him a trip to Quebec City next spring. Sid finished 11th nationally in the International Academic Competitions’ geography championship.

Sid Kumar, with flags of the world.

Entering both the elementary school and junior varsity divisions, he answered multiple rounds of long, detailed questions about history, statues, resources — all the things that make the world so exciting for Sid.

His journey began in preschool. His parents, Dinesh and Shilpa, got him US and world puzzles. That led to geography-related toys, then books, atlases,  and music, flag  and travel videos.

Along with the entertaining, educational Geography Now YouTube channel.

Sid quickly discovered that “geography” involves politics, culture, and so much more.

Including money. Among his many other interests — like guitar, karate, swimming and ice skating — Sid has already collected currencies from 106 countries.

Of the dozen or so countries he’s been to, Sid can’t pick a favorite. Each, he says, has something making it special.

Of the places he has not yet seen, Cuba tops the list. Among its attractions: beaches, and “the style of Havana.”

Sid will no doubt get there, some time. But first comes a trip north, to Quebec.

It’s a city with great food, plenty of history — and a challenging, exciting international geography competition.

Question Box: Answers #2

Last week’s Question Box was a smash.

Readers wanted answers to everything from Grace Salmon Park and “Bob” to our eternally renovated bridges and old/new firehouse. 

I did what I could to respond. Readers pitched in. (Click here if you missed it.)

Then you sent more. Here’s the next set of questions. I know some of the answers. When I don’t — someone else will. Click “Comments” below to help.

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I’m sure you’ve covered this in the past. But I’m curious about the history of the boat “Gloria” that I pass every day as I ride through Longshore. And what might the future hold for this venerable vessel? (John Richers)

Short answer: Yes, I’ve written about Gloria many times. Click here for some of those stories and photos.

Longer story: Alan Sterling built the wooden oyster boat himself. He named it after an old girlfriend, and took it oystering on 150 acres of beds, between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island. It was a tough job, but Alan — a Staples grad — loved it from the day he began, in 1964.

Alan moored Gloria in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach Road and the Longshore exit. Some winters, he lived on the boat. It was cold — but it was home.

On July 4, 2014, Alan died of a heart attack.

After that, Gloria drifted. Michael Calise took care of it. Earlier this year, it washed up on shore. Its future is uncertain. It’s an old boat that’s seen a lot, and given many Westporters years of joy.

Just as it did for Alan Sterling.

Gloria, in 2017. (Photo/John Kantor)

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I am new to Westport, from Brooklyn. I know there is talk about revitalizing downtown, and bringing in businesses to fill some of the vacancies. I’m curious if there has ever been a survey of what people would like to see downtown? I am interested in business ownership, and really being part of the community. I wonder what type of businesses folks think would be needed and supported. (Travis Rew-Porter)

Travis, this is awesome. I don’t know of any consumer/user survey. It’s a great idea.

And readers: If you’d like to work with Travis on a business or revitalization project, click “Comments” below!

What kind of businesses do Westporters want? Great question! (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Does Public Works have any input into local traffic lights? The timing at Morningside Drive/Post Road has changed to prioritize the Post Road more dramatically. The green light for Morningside lasts just 3 seconds. It is impossible to cross on foot. Help! (Amy Bedi)

Unfortunately, nearly every light in town is on a state road. Those balls are in the Department of Transportation’s court.

Click here for a link to report issues to the DOT. But don’t hold your breath.

Town officials — including the 1st selectman and Department of Public Works — are in contact with the state about traffic lights. They can sometimes push things along. But they don’t hold their breath either.

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Can Westporters use the track at Staples to run, jog or walk? If so, is it time restricted? Do you need a pass? (Carmen Castedo)

The Laddie Lawrence Track at Paul Lane Field (the first time I’ve written that!) is open to all — except during the school day, or when it’s used after school by the track team, or if there is another sports event going on.

No pass is needed. But keep Fido home!

The Laddie Lawrence Track, at Paul Lane Field. (File photo; the track is now blue.)

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Is Clinton Avenue named after the namesake of Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399 on Riverside Avenue? (Linda Velez)

Not only have I never been asked that — I never even thought about it.

Private Joseph J. Clinton was a Westport soldier. He was killed in France just 4 days before the armistice.

That explains the VFW name. But the road off Main Street, opposite North Compo: I have no idea. Except to say that it is not named for either Bill or Hillary.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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What happened to the time capsule that was buried at Greens Farms Elementary School for the bicentennial? I heard that at one time 3 people had plans and permission to dig it up. There is a new road in front of the school. You have a lot of fans who were involved in the project. (A passive-aggressive reader: This was sent by mail, with no name or return address.)

I addressed this in 2012. The answer was the same then: No one knows. (Click here to see.) 

But one reader responded with a back story:

I remember the time capsule at Greens Farms El in 1976. It was buried in the front lawn. All the classes/grades were asked to participate in drawings (I think that I was in maybe 3rd grade & our class drew pictures of ourselves and described our lives. We all mused how fun it would be for people 100 years later to see how we lived).

A crane dug a deep hole, and there was quite a bit of ceremony around the time capsule being buried. I’ve told people about it over the years, only to wonder if anyone else remembered it, as well:)

If anyone can dig deeper (ho ho), click “Comments” below.

Has anyone seen my time capsule? (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Some 80 years ago I lived on 573 Imperial Avenue, at the corner of Wakeman Place. The numbers have been reset, but the house is still there. My brothers and I used to swim in the river. I remember diving off “White Rock,” which was close to the shore. Is it still there, or am I dreaming? (Karl Taylor)

You’re probably not dreaming, but I have not heard of it. Wakeman Place residents: What’s the deal?

Wakeman Place at Imperial Avenue. Karl, was this your house?

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Why did the state Department of Transportation remove and replace the trees, bushes and buffering hills from the northbound side of the Merritt Parkway, near the Westport Weston Family YMCA? It cost a lot of money. Was the outcome worth the expense? (Jacque O’Brien)

I asked State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who serves on the House Transportation Committee. He says that location was a major staging area for projects up and down the Merritt.

Now that equipment and material has been moved in and out, it’s time to replace what was lost.

New trees on the Merritt Parkway, near the Y. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

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What first inspired you to start “06880,” and did you ever think it would keep you this busy? (Jack Krayson)

Wow! I didn’t expect an “06880” question on “06880.”

I started the blog in March of 2009. I was a columnist for the Westport News (I still am!), but realized the future of print journalism was, um, iffy. I wanted to continue to write about town people, issues, events and history. Someone suggested I start a blog.

“No way!” I said. (That’s also what I said about cell phones, when they came in. And computers, before that.)

But he showed me WordPress, a great blogging platform. I learned the basics in a weekend. Here we are, 13,000+ posts (and 136,000+ comments later).

I never dreamed it would keep me this busy. If I knew then what I know now …

… I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Why is Westport pronounced “Wessport”? The “t” is silent! (Kevin McCaul)

My guess: It takes too long to say the first “t.”

And Wessporters are always in a hurry.

 

 

“Annie Jr.” And “Charlie Brown”: Elementary School Actors Shine

The pandemic was tough. At times, it was hard to believe the sun would come up tomorrow.

But it did. We persevered. And now we’re reaping the rewards.

Among them: a production of “Annie Jr.” by Greens Farms Elementary School 5th graders.

The show — on June 4-6, outdoors near Bedford Square — is a collaboration with TheaterCamp4KidsBroadwayAcademy.com. But it would not have been possible without help from throughout the community.

Many were available only because of COVID.

“We have the most wonderful young actors, parents, and theater and dance professionals,” says Laura Curley Pendergast, TheaterCamp owner and artistic director.

Volunteers include a Rockette, a former choreographer for “Disney on Ice,” professional actors and set designers, and others.

In true the-show-must-go-on style, TheaterCamp faced — and overcame — many challenges. Among them: Though they earned nearly $10,000 in ticket sales after the March 2020 production of “Beauty and the Beast” at GFS, the ticket company never paid them.

“After many attempts we finally gave up. The cost of an attorney was just too expensive,” Pendergast says.

“We thought we could not do a play this year for our very talented 5th graders, who had been waiting in the ensemble for 2 years for their turn to star.”

Rehearsing “Annie Jr.” at Bedford Square.

But many Westporters stepped up. Among them: David Waldman, who provided space to rehearse and perform at Bedford Square.

Tecknow’s Phil Levieff lent musical equipment for rehearsals — along with technical know-how.

Professional film and stage actor Emily Hooper serves as musical director. David Hoffman, a Dartmouth student and accomplished actor, is assistant director and stage manager. Staples High and middle school students are interning with the show.

Professional actor Jim Lauten — also a talented painter and builder — donated all of the rolling sets.

Costumes were provided by designer Pam Beaudoin, who lives at Bedford Square.

Parents Jenny Perlman and Laurie Ginsberg handle ticket sales — not an outside company. (Pendergast learned her lesson.)

She is grateful for the help of other locals with impressive resumes. Kristine Nielsen (a GFS parent) is a professional dancer who choreographed “Disney on Ice” for years.

Former Rockette and Knicks dancer Kelly Potter McHale is another “Annie Jr.” choreographers. So is Kim Porio.

Costumes have been handled by a hard-working trio: Marisa Zer, Taran Gulliksen and Shobana Mani-Lorenzato.

Volunteers help the young actors make magic.

One of the first rehearsals was at the GFS basketball court in cold and rain. After seeking shelter on the school’s front porch, the young actors found a way to make it a fun day. It remains a favorite memory. 

The sun eventually came out. And so — next week — will the young actors and dancers in “Annie Jr.”

(“Annie Jr. is performed Friday, June 4 at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 5 at 2 and 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 6 at 2 p.m., outdoors near Bedford Square. Tickets are $18 each. They can be purchased by Venmo (@laura-pendergast-2), PayPal (curleylaura@hotmail.com) or check (payable to “TheaterCamp4Kids,” c/o Laurie Ginsberg, 209 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880). Questions? Email anniejr2021westport@gmail.com. To help via GoFundMe, click here.)

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Meanwhile, the fledgling Saugatuck Elementary Theater Club also struggled with how to continue this year.

They too decided the show must go on. They chose “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, with a twist. They’d record parts individually, and create a movie in lieu of a live show.

With a small cast and cartoon quality, it lent itself to green screens and graphics, rather than props and elaborate costumes. That was a great fit for the pandemic.

Luckily, local Broadway star Jaden Waldman — who just happens to be a Saugatuck 5th grade — had some COVID-induced time on his hands. He’s a perfect Charlie Brown.

Jaden Waldman as Charlie Brown, Phoebe Nunziato as Lucy.

Other roles were double cast, to provide more opportunities for the young actors. The 2 casts were called “Saugie” and “Tuck.”

Rehearsals were held on Zoom. Leads recorded practice songs each week, then uploaded them to receive feedback.

Blocking was recorded by director Katie Bloom, and shared via instructional videos.

Each child sang alone. Vocal tracks were then layered together. Zoom recordings were deconstructed and reconstructed. Microphones and green screens were juggled between cast members’ houses. When possible, they came together for a socially distanced scene or two.

The “Tuck” cast rehearses via Zoom.

The project required dedication and responsibility seldom demanded of 10- year-olds.

It all culminates Wednesday (June 2) in a big way: the big screen at the Remarkable Theatre. Congratulations to all the good men — and women, and children — who helped make “Charlie Brown” a reality.

(The Remarkable Theater opens at 6:30 p.m. The show starts at sunset, and costs $40 per car. A pizza truck will be on the premises. For tickets — or to stream the show on June 4, 7 p.m. —click here.)

(Hat tips: Jenny Perlman Robinson and Pamela Long)

Greens Farms Book Gifts: The Sequel

Yesterday, “06880” reported on Greens Farms Elementary School’s great project. Students solicited pledges by reading books. Funds raised went to “Read For Change” — a program organized by parents Leigh Cataudo and Liz Leary to purchase books for students at Bridgeport’s Luis Muñoz Marin School. Every student could select 2 new books of their own, at a Scholastic fair.

On Friday, Leigh and Liz watched with smiles as 7th and 8th graders chose their books.

Yesterday, it was younger students’ turn.

“I wish we could have bottled up the excitement appreciation and pure joy of these kindergartners, 1st and 2nd graders to share with our students,” Leigh says.

“It was nothing short of magical. This was the first time in over a year most students were able to physically interact with books. The school library was closed due to COVID, and any classroom library that would be accessible is still ‘packed up.'”

Leigh and Liz received countless hugs of thanks, which they were asked to pass along to GFS families.

They plan for a second “Read For Change” next year. And they’d like to bring some Greens Farms students with them, to share in the magic.

(Photos/Leigh Cataudo)

Remembering Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan — a longtime teacher and administrator, who had a profound impact on the Westport Public Schools — died Monday, surrounded by his family. He was 81.

Sullivan (not to be confused with the Staples High School Latin teacher with the same name) began his career here in 1964, as a Long Lots Junior High School math teacher.

He was named department chair in 1969, then vice principal in 1973. In 1986 he moved to Coleytown Elementary School as principal. He retired in 1997; served as a special assistant for building, planning and construction, then returned full-time in 2001 as principal of Greens Farms Elementary.

Those are the facts. But they don’t convey the warmth, empathy or great good humor that made Dan Sullivan a legend in Westport education.

I was not exactly an Einsteinian math pupil. But I had Mr. Sullivan in 8th grade, and he made math actually fun. Like any great teacher, he loved his subject. But he understood that not all of us would be mathematicians — and that was okay. He also had a wicked sense of humor.

Dan Sullivan

Later, when I was a substitute teacher, Long Lots was a favorite school. Mr. Sullivan fostered a warm, loving schoolwide environment. I saw how he treated every student sent to the office as a special individual, worthy of his time, his ear and his respect.

In the 1980s and ’80s, Long Lots had a very complex schedule. Classes were varying lengths: science labs were long and met only a couple of times a week; foreign language classes were short but met often, for example.

Because of those time periods, very few classes let out at the same time. The halls were never crowded — the bane of any school.

It was a brilliant schedule. It was devised completely by Mr. Sullivan — all by hand. Many schools could have benefited from the setup. Of course, no other other had a Dan Sullivan to create and implement it.

And — this would never happen today, for many reasons — he allowed a neighborhood dog the free run of school. One day Doozer wandered in to Long Lots, and never left. He roamed the halls, sat in on classes, and lay down in the cafeteria.

Most vice principals would have called Animal Control. Mr. Sullivan turned a blind eye (when he wasn’t petting him). It helped make Long Lots feel not like a school, but a home.

Mr. Sullivan had a similar impact on colleagues throughout the Westport Public Schools. He was an innovative thinker, a wise mentor, and a very funny guy.

Dan Sullivan graduated from Milford High School in 1957. He earned a BS from Southern Connecticut State College, an MS in secondary supervision from the University of Bridgeport, and certificates in advanced studies for administration and supervision from Fairfield University and Teachers College, Columbia University.

He later became an adjunct professor at both the University of Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University.

Mr. Sullivan is survived by 4 children: Kevin of Los Angeles, Maureen and Lorna of Philadelphia, Daniel of Fairfield, and 6 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife Lorna.

A private service will be held tomorrow. Donations can be made to Alzheimer’s research, in his memory. Click here to send condolences to his family.

Election Day: Long Lines, Excitement And Hand Sanitizer

8,000 Westport voters mailed in or dropped off ballots before Election Day.

But thousands of others did not.

Before dawn today, they lined up at polling places around town.

At Greens Farms Elementary School, the line snaked all the way around the perimeter of the parking lot.

Greens Farms Elementary School this morning … (Photo/Matt Murray)

A man in his 50s who grew up here says, “I have never had to wait a minute to vote at Coleytown El. I got here at 6:11. This line is amazing.” As at Greens Farms, it stretched far into the lot.

,,, and Coleytown Elementary School … (Photo/Dan Donovan)

When the Saugatuck Elementary School doors opened, approximately 200 people were already waiting.

The process was very efficient. A voter who joined the line near the football field was done voting 15 minutes later.

… and Saugatuck Elementary School … (Photo/Chip Stephens)

By 6:15, more than 50 men and women stood outside the Westport Library. By 6:45, they stretched through the police station parking lot, to Jesup Road.

… and the Westport Library.

Inside the library, poll watchers — including several high school students — offered voters hand sanitizer (optional) and gloves (mandatory).

Others checked names, and directed them to (socially distanced) voting stations.

The mood was cheery, and civic-minded.

In many ways, it was an election unlike any Westporters have ever seen.

In others, it was just a bunch of Americans doing what we always do.