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Tag Archives: Kings Highway Elementary School
Much of the town just finished WestportREADS. This year’s novel — “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid — focused on 2 refugees who, against all odds, find life and love on the run.
A great book — but a bit much for elementary school readers.
No problem. Kings Highway just finished something very similar.
Everyone in school — all grade levels — read “Masterpiece,” Elise Broach’s mystery novel about friendship and stolen art.
Entire families were encouraged to read together at night. There were school-wide assemblies and online activities. Teachers recorded chapters on computers, so youngsters could listen at home or in the car.
There was a surprise ending: Broach herself showed up, to read the final chapter to students.
It was a fun project for everyone. But then they took things a step further.
The school’s motto is “Kindness Happens at our School.” (The acronym is KHS — get it?!)
So when they were done, the kids donated their “gently loved” copies to the James J. Curiale School in Bridgeport. Now everyone there is doing the same school-wide reading too.
One book. Two schools. Too cool!
(Hat tip: Lauren Turner)
Two weeks ago, Peter Barlow stumped nearly everyone with a photo of a spire that — until it was knocked over in a hurricane — stood with a dozen others atop the Compo Beach bathhouse.
Last week’s Photo Challenge also came courtesy of Peter. This one was much easier: the cupola at Kings Highway Elementary School.
Though they showed different images, and were orders of magnitude apart in difficulty, they share one thing.
As Peter notes, the 4 spires at the base of the cupola are very similar to those once on the bathhouse. Both structures date from the late 1920s and early ’30s. (From its opening through 1958, Kings Highway served as Bedford Junior High School.)
Congratulations to Victor Belyaev, Elaine Marino, Tom Ryan, Wendy Cusick, Michelle Saunders, Jacques Voris, Michael Calise, James Weisz, Jonathan McClure, Lawrence Zlatkin, Eva Pastor, Jill Turner Odice, Mary Cookman Schmerker, Ritu Johorey, Bonnie Bradley, Sharon Paulsen, Dede Fitch and Mary Palmieri Gai — some of whom are proud BJHS or KHS graduates. (Click here for last week’s photo.)
Is this week’s Photo Challenge as tough as the bathhouse spire, or as easy as the Kings Highway cupola?
We’ll find out. If you think you know where in Westport you’d find this, click “Comments” below.
Compo Beach is home to Westport’s biggest and best known playground. It’s jammed in summer — and well used the rest of the year too.
But it’s not the only one in town.
Every elementary school has a playground too. They’re used at recess, sure — but after schools and weekends as well.
Playground aficionados will be delighted to know that this year, both Kings Highway and Saugatuck Elementary raised funds for new playgrounds. They’ll be installed before schools begins next fall.
They’re ADA compliant (of course!). Also (of course!) they use recycled content, and are made to high environmental health standards.
The new playgrounds are “designed for social interaction and cooperative play,” says Lauren Turner, a Kings Highway parent involved in the project.
They include interactive climbing blocks, slides, spinning elements, quiet areas and more. All elements provide “physical, emotional and intellectual stimulation.” Play is (of course!) a key to children’s development.
But what happens to an old playground?
Kings Highway and Saugatuck El have partnered with Kids Around the World. The organization helps children and families affected by war, poverty, illness and natural disasters.
The 2 schools’ current playgrounds will be donated to a third world country, where such things are luxuries.
Turner is glad that youngsters there too will be able to play — and grow.
She hopes this project helps Westport kids understand the impact they can have on other children’s lives, around the globe.
KHS and SES are reinforcing that message through a few programs. Youngsters will write letters to be sent with the old playground. Turner hopes this leads to a pen-pal program.
Kings Highway Principal Lou DiBella will open the library once a week in July and August, so children can write journals about the playground.
And on July 21, all of Westport is invited to help break down the old playgrounds. Kids Around the World will refurbish it, then ship it overseas.
You don’t have to be a Kings Highway family to help. Just click here.
Then — if you’re a kid — stop staring at this screen.
Go outside and play!
Earlier today, I ended my story on the move of Dragone Classic Motorcars from Post Road West to Orange by suggesting the 11,000-square foot property might be the site of a medical marijuana dispensary.
Some readers took me seriously.
I was kidding! It’s directly opposite Kings Highway Elementary School. You’d have to be smoking some heavy stuff to believe that would fly in this town.
But here’s something to consider.
Word around town — from reliable sources — is that a developer has closed on the former classic car showroom. He’s got his eye on the property next door too — where Villa del Sol planned to move.
Why? He wants to build 8-30(g) affordable housing there.
As in, 150 or more 2-bedroom apartments.
There’s already a plan in the works for the other side of Post Road West — the former “blighted homes” site on the crest of the hill heading downtown. That’s on the Planning and Zoning Commission agenda, for 81 8-30(g) units.
For a while, most Westport zoning battles have been waged on the other side of the river.
Kids at Kings Highway Elementary School learn lots of things: Reading. Math. Art. Music.
This month, they’re also learning kindness.
A special initiative emphasizes respect. It’s a school-wide project, involving students, teachers, custodians, secretaries — everyone in the KHS community.
A calendar shows different ways of acting kindly: Pick up trash around school. Leave a friendly note in a library book. Let someone go first.
A new mom in town posted the kindness calendar on Instagram. It soon became one of her most-liked posts ever.
Each class makes a paper link chain, writing acts of kindness they’ve seen or received each day. When all the links are attached, they’ll provide a graphic example of how far individual acts of kindness can extend.
Principal Mary Lou DiBella has noticed children reaching out not just to friends, but other students they don’t know well.
Youngsters have written letters to their bus drivers and bus monitors.
Kings Highway calls this Kindness Month. Odds are good it will last long beyond the end of December.
It’s an annual rite of spring: Starting April 1, dogs can no longer roam Compo Beach.
But humans were out in force this afternoon — the first nice Sunday in a while.
Rain is forecast for much of the coming week. But next Sunday should be gorgeous again.
Last summer, Ted Vergakis was on vacation in California. He saw someone wearing a simple T-shirt, with 2 words in beautiful script: “King’s Highway.”
Ted’s a Westporter. He had no idea what the shirt referred to. It could have been “a San Diego biker gang,” for all he knew.
No matter. He wanted one.
His oldest son Theo went to Kings Highway Elementary School. His youngest son Alecko is a student there now. The family calls it “a special place,” and seeing those words crafted on a T-shirt seemed both cool and rare.
Ted realized that though there are places to buy things that say “Westport,” they don’t feel as if they were created specifically for here.
So he and his wife Stephanie decided to create a hand-drawn script for Westport, and a unique illustration that can’t be found anywhere else in town.
This was not a total stretch for the couple — but not exactly what they’d been planning either.
Both grew up in small Massachusetts towns. Both started their careers in advertising, managing creative departments and producing campaigns.
Stephanie went on to work in fashion, at Donna Karan. Ted spent several years running the global creative group at IMG — with clients like the Olympics, NCAA, sports stars and models.
Now they run their own studio, called Offmad. They provide creative and strategic support to clients like Kayak.com, PwC, Vroom and others.
Their route to Westport — via Manhattan and Hoboken — was similar to others’. When they felt the need for more space, and realized the commute would be longer, they wanted someplace special.
“More of a destination, not just a suburban town,” is how Ted describes it.
Work colleagues suggested Westport. On weekend trips here, Ted and Stephanie “pretty much knew it was the perfect place.” They loved it all: seeing houses in the morning, then lunch at the Mansion Clam House, a trip to the Compo Beach playground, a stop at Trader Joe’s.
“We were really taken by how much at home Westport made us feel,” Ted says.
“It felt very New England and familiar. We both loved where we grew up and vacationed — Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard. Westport really reminded us of all those special things from home.”
But — like most Westporters — when Ted had his aha! T-shirt moment, he also realized that Main Street has become flooded with retailers that do not offer anything authentic and Westport-special.
So he and Stephanie decided to partner with skilled designers and illustrators. They wanted to celebrate their town, and the artists who created its legacy.
Creating the sparkling Saugatuck Bridge illustration for their “Townee” apparel — which now includes short- and long-sleeve T-shirts, hoodies, fleeces and rally caps, for adults, kids and toddlers — was particularly important.
“I don’t think there’s a soul in town who doesn’t love the way the bridge looks during the holidays,” Ted says. “It’s perfect from every view — from 95, driving over it, walking through it.”
As for the company name, Ted says, “We think being called a townee is a compliment — a badge of honor. It’s someone who knows the best things to do, see, when to go places.
“Loving where you live makes you a townee. We all spend so much time here doing normal day-to-day things. We want to remind others of how special Westport is.”
Their reminder: a line of high-quality apparel that’s comfortable, can be worn every day, and shows the pride people have in their town.
Townee launched last month. You may already have seen folks wearing Ted and Stephanie’s gear.
Just call them townees.
(Ted and Stephanie offer free delivery to all addresses. For more information — including ordering — click here.)
Normally, news that a Kings Highway Elementary School Girl Scout troop has created 24 “lily pad” seats for pediatric cancer patients would not be blog-worthy.
It’s nice, sure. You go, girls! But big enough news to share with thousands of “06880” readers?
It is. That’s because Richard Lytle — a celebrated artist whose work hangs in the Museum of Modern Art, and who once served as dean of Silvermine College of Art — collaborated on the project. He even painted one of the seats.
The girls of Troop 50889 worked hard. They designed, cut, sanded and painted 2 dozen cool, artistic seats carved out of wood. Each has its own unique design.
The seats go at the bottom of IV poles at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. Kids too sick to walk can still leave their rooms, and scoot around the cancer ward floor.
The 5th grade Scouts are the youngest group nationwide to complete the project. They’re also the first to do so on the East Coast.
Claudia McRoberts — a Westporter who co-leads the 5th grade troop — organized the project. She recruited local artists to help paint the seats. Naturally, she asked her father: Richard Lytle. He was happy to help the girls — and pick up a brush himself.
His works sell for up to $25,000. Now one of his most important creations will serve as a seat, bringing a smile to a sick child’s face.
(Congratulations to Girl Scouts Evelyn Anvari, Carly Chamlin, Sasha Chamlin, Hannah Cohen, Anna Diorio, Gianna Holt, Jane Leahy, Molly Lynch, Scarlett McRoberts and Lilly Weisz, and c0-leaders Claudia McRoberts and Lyn Hogan.)
Election Day has come and gone. But for alert “06880” reader Christie Stanger, the good feelings linger. She writes:
On Tuesday, as adults took to the polls, younger Westporters took to the hallways and sidewalks outside of polling places, at bake sales to raise money for schools.
While Kings Highway Elementary is not unique, our adventure highlights what a wonderful town Westport truly is.
When KHS was closed as a voting site, we had to move our Election Day bake sale to the Westport Library. Westport Weston Health District’s Mark Cooper, Norma Jarrett, Sandy Arcudi and Melissa Romano helped us get our permit to sell baked goods. This is not like bake sales of old, but their kindness made the process seem very small-town.
Next, we coordinated with Town Hall. Janet Suchsland and Eileen Francis in the first selectman’s office gave us permission to operate in a public space. The library’s assistant director, Paul Mazzaccaro, allowed us to operate at both entrances. He provided us with tables and chairs, meeting us bright and early on Election Day (and wishing us luck).
And lucky we were! 70 degree weather with blue skies on November 3. That was fabulous — but the people of Westport were even warmer.
Voters, candidates and library patrons stopped by for goods made by loving hands, and others donated by generous businesses (Saugatuck Sweets, Great Cakes, Starbucks and Atlantic Pizza). The number of times we heard “Keep the change!” and “Let me just give!” gave us warm fuzzies more real than the ones teachers handed out as pencil toppers.
Finally, we did not notice even one person parking outside the lines in either parking lot!
It all added up to one of those magical days, when you’re reminded that people are good and generous, that we are all in this together, and that Westport is an amazing town!