Tag Archives: Saugatuck Elementary School

Roundup: Saugatuck El, Sustainable Westport, Screenings …

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Over the past week, 15 COVID cases have been identified at Saugatuck Elementary School.

Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice says, “Although there appears to be very limited transmission within the school as new cases span multiple grades and classrooms, by definition, a sudden rise in the number of cases at this rate constitutes an outbreak.”

Officials asked the state Department of Public Health to review the cases, and the school district’s mitigating measures. Scarice said, “This discussion affirmed that community transmission (i.e. after school activities, large community social events, etc.) has likely contributed to the recent rise in cases at SES. As a result, it appears that in-school mitigating measures have been effective. “

The DPH recommended a round of surveillance testing for all students and staff at SES. Testing is set for tomorrow (Friday, October 1). 

Saugatuck Elementary School

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Once again, the Westport Police Department will do its part to help.

The color of the town seal will change from black and gold to pink.

In addition, many officers will wear pink patches, and pink ribbon pins. It’s all part of a campaign to raise awareness of the deadly disease.

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Sustainable Westport has taken a giant step forward, with the appointment of 2 new co-directors.

Gately Ross has dedicated her career to the health and conservation of wild and domestic animals, and the health of the environment. She combines a deep understanding of ecology and human impact on populations and ecosystems with clinical practice, team leadership and training experience in veterinary emergency and critical care medicine.  

She has an undergraduate degree in biology from the College of Charleston, a masters of science from San Francisco State University, and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tufts University. A Westport resident since 2007, Gately lives in Greens Farms with her husband, 3 boys and rescue dog.

Johanna Martell has over 15 years experience as a legal and business advisor, with a focus on commercial real estate, corporate, tax and estate planning. She holds an undergraduate degree in political economy from Princeton University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. A Westport resident since 2013, she also lives in Greens Farms with her husband and 3 sons.

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The Remarkable Theater continues its remarkable fall run. A few tickets remain for some intriguing upcoming screenings at the Imperial Avenue drive-in:

  • “Soul” (tonight, Thursday, September 30)
  • “Footloose” (tomorrow, Friday, October 1)
  • “Coco” (Saturday,  October 2)
  • “The Stepford Wives” (filmed partly in Westport! — Tuesday, October 5)
  • “Clueless” (Thursday, October 7)
  • “Togo” (Saturday, October 9).

Click here for tickets, show times and more information.

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There’s a new program on the youth basketball scene.

The Westport Weston Family YMCA is introducing a basketball program for grades K-4. The program will introduce fundamentals in a fun way. Light competition begins for the 3rd graders.

The program is run by Mike Evans. The Weston High School all-state selection played at Hamilton College, then in Belfast and as a volunteer assistant coach at Harvard. He’s been a shooting instructor for NBA professionals too

High school students will help out.

Kindergartners through 2nd graders will have clinics on Saturdays, in November and December.

Third and fourth graders will have Saturday clinics, plus one weekday practice. They’ll play intrasquad games, and perhaps face an outside opponent too.

Click here for more information, and to register.

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Lewis Grossman is a Staples High School graduate, and professor of law and history at American University. He specializes in food, drug and health law. His new book — Choose Your Medicine: Freedom of Therapeutic Choice in America — examines that topic from the Revolutionary War to the Trump presidency.

He’ll be at the Westport Library on October 12 (7 p.m.) to discuss his findings. The event is both in-person and livestreamed. To register for a seat or watch from home — and purchase a signed copy of the book — click here.

Lewis Grossman

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MaryLou Roels describes her photo — today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — as “the little things in life.”

(Photo/MaryLou Roels)

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And finally … in honor of tomorrow’s film at the Remarkable Theater:

 

 

Unsung Heroes #206

Rob Earley and his family are recent arrivals in Westport.

But he knows an Unsung Hero when he sees one.

Last week — the day after Hurricane Ida unleashed 7 inches of rain on his new town — he sent along this photo:

Rob writes: “My kids just started at Saugatuck Elementary School. Unfortunately I don’t know this man’s name. I am so grateful that he was out there, up to his knees in water clearing drains at the school.

“The facilities staff probably don’t always get recognition. But I immediately thought of your site, and the town’s Unsung Heroes that you profile.”

Thanks, Rob. You nailed it. So to the Saugatuck staff member — and all the other facilities folks who dealt with drains, leaks, floods, branches, debris, and everything else in Ida’s wake — thank you.

And thanks too for all you do every day, in so many other ways, for all of us!

(If you’ve got a favorite school facilities employee, share his or her story in the “Comments” below. And do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Unsung Hero #195

A grateful group of Saugatuck Elementary School parents writes:

We are incredibly lucky to have the best teachers here in Westport. Our schools are filled with smart, creative educators who not only teach, but inspire our kids every day.

It would be hard to stand out in a crowd of teachers that already lives so far above the standard. Yet when Peter von Euler announced his retirement this spring, it became clear that he has done just that. Reactions were universal: dismay from parents who still have kids at Saugatuck El, and gratitude from the students (and their parents) who were already taught by him.

Peter von Euler

Mr. von Euler has taught in Westport for 36 years. He began with 4th grade at Long Lots and Kings Highway Elementary Schools, before settling into his 5th grade classroom at Saugatuck  in 2002.

He has remained in that classroom, aptly nicknamed the FIvE HIvE (creative punctuation of his initials intended), ever since.

When he announced his retirement, SES parents and teachers sent out a call to former students and colleagues of Mr. von Euler’s, asking them to submit notes to be compiled as a retirement gift.

The letters came pouring in — over 100 pages’ worth. Current students, former students now in middle and high school, and grown adults all responded to the call. The themes were universal: Peter von Euler was creative, funny and obviously, memorable. He pushed kids to be their best, yet had a way of making every student feel seen and understood.

One student from his 5th grade class of 2017 said:

You understand that every student learns differently but deserves a full chance just the same. You nurtured everyone’s special abilities and gave us the appropriate pushes to get out of our comfort zones. Years after I left your class I wondered if you had had super powers.

Many of his former students recalled his “read alouds,” the homemade Valentine’s mailboxes his students make every year, and the custom awards his students create for one another at the end of year — a project that encourages his students to see the best in each other.

A happy class, with Mr. von Euler (rear) on Field Day.

When the pandemic struck, like all teachers, Mr. von Euler was forced to pivot. But he did so with calm and creativity. On the first day of remote learning last spring, he sent his students an email that included great advice.

“First, take care of yourself. Do all of the things that keep you healthy and happy. Second, take care of your mind. Read…A LOT. Think about what you’re reading and write it down somewhere. Send me a letter. I promise I’ll write back. Third, look for ways to be constructive and positive. Start a project that you’ve wanted to start. Build something. Draw something.

Fourth, try really hard to avoid doing things that just kill time. I think there are ways to make this time have some value. Let’s see if the FIvE HIvE can still do great things, even when we’re away from the hive. -Mr. vE

One of his “Pandemic Class” parents submitted this to the memory book:

We had both the privilege and fear of being vulnerable with you about our struggles in returning to “normal,” just as you were vulnerable with us on Day One of a year where we knew we were going to need each other in new and unusual ways. You set the tone for a year of doing our best as humans, not just students, parents and teachers.

Learning remotely, with Mr. von Euler.

Perhaps one of the most “fun facts” about Peter von Euler’s classroom years is that despite it being an elementary school classroom, it served as the birthplace for a marriage! Vibeke Borgia wrote:

It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years since I was in your 4th grade class. What might be even harder to believe is that 2 little 10-year-olds in your class fell in love, got married, moved 6 times, endured several career changes, traveled the world, had four amazing children, and will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary this September. I’m not sure if the sparks flew in 4th grade, but I sure am glad you were our teacher.

Peter von Euler’s retirement is a true loss for Westport schools and future students. But it’s a gain to his family — wife Nancy, daughter Sarah and dog Farley — with whom he now intends to spend more time.

In 1993, Mr. von Euler was interviewed for a New York Times “Back to School” article. The columnist wrote, “Mr. von Euler said he wanted to be a good teacher, like those special few he had as a young person or those he sees around him each day.”

Mission accomplished.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations to dwoog@optonline.net)

 

 

 

 

“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)

Board Of Ed: Pupils, Projects And More

The social, mental and physical health — and the health of several school buildings — were the focuses at last night’s Board of Education meeting.

On the student side, Brian Fullenbaum reports that townwide health and physical education coordinator Chris Wanner and Staples phys. ed. teacher CJ Shamas presented an update on social and emotional learning.

Embedded in the high school curriculum for juniors, it addresses social and emotional skills from a growth mindset point of view. Video testimonials showed students enjoying the health classes.

Board member Elaine Whitney and Westport Public Schools chief financial officer Elio Longo provided an update on capital projects.

Paving is needed at Greens Farms, Coleytown and Long Lots Elementary Schools, plus Bedford Middle and Wakeman. All roads there are at least 20 years old.

The $1.6 million estimated cost is significantly lower than expected, due to a partnership with the town’s Department of Public Works.

The Saugatuck Elementary roof project is out to bid. Work is scheduled for this summer. It should proceed without state assistance, because the roof is beyond its useful life.

A new roof is planned for Saugatuck Elementary School.

Staples’ roof replacement can be deferred for a year. State assistance may be available.

In the area of capital maintenance projects — from $500,000 to $2 million — superintendent Thomas Scarice noted that outside companies can help maximize value, and stay on schedule and within budget. He would like to create a school modernization master plan, then use help from an OPM to get through the process, including larger maintenance projects. The board discussed collaborating with the town on capital projects.

The board approved a new policy for minority staff recruitment. It updates the former document with more inclusionary language.

Supervisor of health services Suzanne Levasseur’s COVID report noted a slight uptick in cases in Westport schools last week, to 13 cases. The district’s first vaccination clinic for staff — run in conjunction with Weston and Easton — is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday, March 3) in the Staples fieldhouse. 250 people are expected to get shots.

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.

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)

Pic Of The Day #1089

Saugatuck Elementary School (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Pics Of The Day #1054

Saugatuck Elementary School students are busily rehearsing “The Little Mermaid.” The curtain rises next Friday (March 13, 7 p.m.), with additional shows Saturday, March 14 (1 and 6 p.m.). Tickets are $5 at http://www.saugatucktheaterclub.org; $7 at the door, if any remain.

(Phorios/Pamela Long))

Remembering Lou Dorsey

To generations of Westport students, Lou Dorsey was phys. ed.

The Saugatuck native, Staples High School graduate and longtime teacher died November 2, in Florida. He was 93 years old.

Dorsey was a member of Staples’ Class of 1943. He left school after the basketball season, to join the Navy. “It was more important to get in the war before it ended than to get my diploma,” he said in 2004.

Nine classmates (out of a graduation class of 100) also left school early, for the war. Dorsey received his diploma eventually, on leave, in a special ceremony with principal Douglas Young.

Dorsey served in the Pacific Theater, as a radioman third class. After his service he received his undergraduate degree at Arnold College (now the University of Bridgeport), and his master’s at Columbia University.

Lou Dorsey

He taught physical education for 33 years at Saugatuck and Burr Farms Elementary Schools, and Staples High School.

He was inspired to teach by his high school coaches, particularly Roland Wachob at Staples.

“Rollie would put me in charge of his 9th grade class when he’d go off on a baseball trip,” Dorsey said. “If you did that nowadays you’d get sued.”

Dorsey and his wife Pauline spent 60 summers in the western Maine mountains. They moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida 33 years ago, where Dorsey was an avid golfer.

He is survived by 4 children: Judith Dorsey and her husband Kenneth Gomberg; Kimberly Slimak and her husband Michael Slimak; Jiliane Dorsey and Louis Dorsey, Jr. and his youngest sister, Patricia Dorsey Wood, as well as 3 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in Rangeley, Maine next summer. Click here to leave condolences.