Tag Archives: Lucia Wang

Lucia Wang, Rebecca Schussheim Lead Staples Class Of ’23

Lucia Wang and Rebecca Schussheim did not set out to earn the highest grades in Staples High School’s Class of 2023.

But by taking challenging classes they were interested in, working hard in the classroom and beyond, and working collaboratively with teachers and classmates, they did.

Along the way, they also participated in a variety of clubs and activities, both in school and outside, as leaders and “doers.”

Which is why Lucia is valedictorian, and Rebecca salutatorian, for this year’s senior class.

Lucia’s Westport education began in 4th grade, at Saugatuck Elementary School. Fifth grade teacher Peter von Euler encouraged her writing. At Bedford Middle she was editor-in-chief of Ursus, the school paper, and worked on the literary magazine.

She continued writing at Staples, but her focus shifted. Lucia is now editor-in-chief of the high school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) journal. She contributes articles on the environment, noting that the planet is at a climate tipping point.

She also earned honorable mention in the New York Times’ annual STEM Writing contest, for a story on crumbling Indonesian cave art.

Lucia Wang

Her Advanced Placement science courses, like Biology with Dr. Michele Morse-Gaudio and Chemistry with Will Jones, were meaningful.

But so were classes like AP Language and Composition with Meghan Scheck, US Government with Suzanne Kammerman, and Contemporary World Studies with Cathy Schager.

Despite her STEM interests, one of Lucia’s most important extracurricular activities was Model UN Club. It’s been helpful, she says, for her writing and public speaking skills. She has learned to work with “crisis committees,” think on her feet and develop solutions.

Tennis helps Lucia decompress. A 2-year varsity player, in a program that last year reached the FCIAC finals, she finds the sport gives balance to her week. She says, “I love competing, and the entire tennis community.”

For her senior internship, she’ll continue work begun earlier at the Yale University School of Public Health, studying the intersection of public health and the environment.

That interest helped spark a National History Day project. Lucia researched Minamata disease, a Japanese public health and pollution crisis that caused thousands of deaths. Her work earned her a second place prize, in national competition.

But, Lucia says, her most important activity has nothing to do with school. She is the social media director for Dear Asian Youth (DAY), an international activist organization with 200 chapters in 18 countries.

She oversees several platforms, including Instagram with over 100,000 followers. Lucia works with young people around the globe, in areas like writing, graphics and video.

She has also been a Staples representative to the Asia Pacific Young Leaders Summit and Normandy International Youth Leadership Summit.

The exchange of ideas at those events and through DAY, along with opportunities to learn about different cultures and perspectives, excites her. It’s what she looks forward to in college too.

Locally, Lucia has made an impact through her volunteer work at the Westport Museum of History and Culture. She spent hours working with the collection of Sigrid Schultz, the female reporter, social justice activist and longtime Westporter.

Lucia’s advice to younger students is: “Explore lots of classes. Try activities outside of school. Find your own passion and joy. Everyone has a different story. What’s yours?”

Like Julia’s, Rebecca’s resume sparkles with a broad array of courses and activities.

The salutatorian (whose sister Emily was valedictorian in 2017, and brother Benji was salutatorian in 2020) attended Coleytown Elementary School, where orchestra leader Jim Andrews introduced to her lifelong love, the cello. Some CES musicians still play with her at Staples. Eileen Shannon was Rebecca’s next musical influence, at Coleytown Middle.

She is now principal cellist for the Chamber Symphonic Orchestras. Conductors Carrie Mascara and Jeri Hockensmith are “super engaging,” she says. “They create bonds.”

Playing beautiful music is “a great way to break up the day.” Highlights of her Staples career include the traditional Candlelight and Pops concerts.

Academically Rebecca chose an Independent Learning Experience in astrophysics. She and a graduate student at Yale examined early galaxy images from the James Webb Space Telescope,  searching for patterns. Most of their fellow researchers were grad students, and professors.

In January she presented her findings at the International Science Youth Forum, in Singapore. It was a chance to meet, and share ideas with, students from around the world.

Rebecca Schussheim

Another outlet for Rebecca’s passion is the Sikorsky STEM Challenge. She is co-president of Staples’ chapter. They’re building a helicopter, for entry in the state competition.

“It’s very self-directed. There’s a lot of trial and error,” Rebecca explains. “If something doesn’t work, we put our heads together to figure out why.”

Rebecca cites David Scrofani – her instructor for AP Physics C, AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A, and with whom she worked on the James Webb project – as an important influence.

She surprised herself by loving AP English Language and Composition, with Noreen McGoldrick. “I’m a STEM kid, so I was nervous,” she admits. “But she gives great feedback. We read a lot of genres. She really helped me with thinking and writing. That class was a gift.”

Rebecca also enjoyed Multivariable Calculus with Robert Papp, Calculus BC with Jonathan Watnick, AP Statistics with Phil Abraham, and US History with Drew Coyne.

At Staples Rebecca has learned how to prioritize activities, and make time for friends. Many of those friends come from squash. She has played since third grade, and co-captains Staples’ girls team.

“It’s a physically and mentally demanding sport,” Rebecca notes. “There’s lots of tactics, with all the angles. You need stamina, because of all the short lunges and sprints. Plus, there’s always something new to learn.’

Already strong bonds were tightened during this winter’s’ trip to the national tournament in Philadelphia.

Becoming salutatorian is really “just a number,” she says. “There are so many great courses at Staples, and so many kids doing so many things. GPAs don’t tell the whole story.

“Grades are important. But more important is passion, and leading a balanced life.”

Rebecca was accepted early action at Yale. She may major in physics or astrophysics. But, she says, “I’m open to anything.”

(“06880” is proud to highlight the accomplishments of young Westporters — and every other age. Please click here to help us continue our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Senior Records, Family Day, “The Scream” …

We all know how great Westport is.

This morning (Thursday) at 11:30 a.m., everyone in the tri-state area will find out too.

Well, everyone watching “New York Live,” anyway.

The WNBC Channel 4 show features our town. The long (for TV) segment includes scenes of Compo Beach, Longshore, downtown and much more, plus interviews with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, La Plage executive chef Frederic Kieffer, and Savvy + Grace owner Annette Norton.

Of course, “New York Live” is not live. It’s clear from the not-quite-spring foliage that the segment was taped a couple of weeks ago. That’s show biz!


The other day, “06880” reported that Westport artist Norma Minkowitz shattered 3 US records at the National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale.

Now she’s demolished a fourth.

On Tuesday, Norma ran the 1500 meters in 8:35 — a full 2 1/2 minutes faster than the prior record in her 85-89-year-old age group. It won the 80-84 division too! (Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)

In 2016– age 79 — Norma Minkowitz led a pack of much younger runners.


Lynsey Addario continues to provide graphic — and important — images of the war in Ukraine to the world.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photojournalist — a 1991 Staples High School graduate — contribute a series of images to yesterday’s story, headlined “In Ukraine, Gruesome Injuries and Not Enough Doctors to Treat Them.”

Click here to understand the toll the fighting has taken. It is not easy to see. But it would be worse to look away.

The boots of a slain soldier named Ihor (right), next to tennis shoes belonging to another soldier, killed a day earlier. They were placed outside a hospital, for soldiers who might need them. (Photo/Lynsey Addario)


It took 4 months. But author Heather McGhee finally delivered her Martin Luther King Day address last night.

The author of “The Sum of US: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together” spoke at the Westport Library. The town’s 16th annual event — sponsored by the Westport/Weston Interfaith Council and Clergy, Westport Country Playhouse and TEAM Westport — had been postponed by COVID.

The program included songs from the Bridgeport Boys Choir, and a dance by the Regional Center for the Arts.

Heather McGhee, at the Westport Library. (Photo/David Vita)


Lucia Wang is editor of Staples High School’s STEM Journal.

But her writing is earning notice far beyond Westport. The junior just earned an honorable mention in the New York Times’ global STEM writing contest.

Out of 3,564 entries, judges chose 8 winners, 16 runners-up and 33 honorable mentions. Click here for the full story.

Her essay was titled “Crumbling Paintings, Swelling Crystals and Menacing Monsoons: Climate Change’s Erasure of Humanity’s Oldest Art.”

But Lucia does not spend all her time studying climate change, and writing. She’s also a member of the Wreckers’ varsity tennis team. They finished 15-1 this year, and compete in the FCIAC semifinals at 4 this afternoon at Staples.

Congratulations, Lucia!

Lucia Wang


On Monday (May 23, 7 p.m.), the Planning & Zoning Commission will review a lease between the town and the Westport Police Athletic League (PAL) for the PJ clubhouse at PJ Romano Field behind Saugatuck Elementary School, plus the lawns, driveway and walkways around it. Click here to see all application materials.

PAL has leased the building from the Board of Education for over 50 years. The lease expired last November. On March 21, the BOE relinquished control back to the town, effective July 1. The proposed lease is 20 years.


Everyone, of all ages, is invited to MoCA Westport’s Family  Day (June 18, noon to 2 p.m.).

The theme is “inclusion and kindness.” Among the attractions: Piglet, the deaf and blind pink puppy who has inspired a global movement for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness. Westport’s own Melissa Shapiro share his story and talk about her new children’s book, Piglet Comes Home.

Norwalk artist 5iveFingaz will create a mural of Piglet in real time. Visitors can view “Spark,” a showcase of K-12 Westport Public School student art curated by Staples High School students.

Other highlights include a sensory art activity led by MoCA Westport instructors, live music by local favorite Dustin Lowman, an ice cream truck, a meet and greet with dogs from Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, and homemade dog treat giveaways from Earth Animal.

Click here for tickets.

In other Piglet news, Melissa Shapiro’s new children’s picture book, “Piglet Comes Home: How a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy Found His Family,” will be published June 7.

It’s beautifully illustrated, and will be a favorite with parents, children’s librarians — and of course young readers — everywhere. Click here to order, and for more information.

Piglet, with his new book.



The next Westport Country Playhouse Script in Hand play reading is “The Scream: A Musical Comedy Fantasy.” The June 13 (7 p.m) live performance will also be livestreamed, from June 16-19. Script in Hand readings offer intimate storytelling, as professional actors bring words to life without sets or costumes.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

“The Scream: A Musical Comedy Fantasy” is based on Edvard Much’s famous painting.


Former Staples High baseball player George Goldstein is the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Pitcher of the Year. He’s only the second relief pitcher in history to win the honor, and just the second Middlebury College pitcher to do so.

With the season still continuing, Goldstein holds several Middlebury baseball records, including career saves and career appearances. He is second in best season and career ERA, and saves in a season.

George Goldstein pitches in the snow earlier this season. (Photo/David Goldstein)


A hummingbird has flitted around Paul Delano’s house recently, collecting spider webs for its nest. He captured this great shot — perfect for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Paul Delano)


And finally … in honor of the next Script in Hand play reading at the Westport Country Playhouse (story above):