Tag Archives: Saugatuck Elementary School

Unsung Hero #244

“06880” reader and grateful mom Alia Afshar writes:

I would like to nominate Saugatuck Elementary School 5h grade teacher Valentina Tran for the Unsung Hero award.

Though she is relatively new to teaching, Ms. Tran is extraordinary. She has gone above and beyond for my daughter, and I am sure many other SES students too.

Like many COVID refugees, my daughters and I landed in Westport a year ago. It’s hard being the new kid, especially a girl in 5th grade. Everything was different from her school in Brooklyn.

From Day 1, Ms. Tran took my daughter under her wing. She made sure she always had someone to sit with, eat lunch with, and even ride the bus with on field trips.

During the early spring, Ms. Tran organized a playdate after school for my daughter and a former student (now in 6th grade) who she thought my daughter would click with. This was her first school playdate, so you can imagine what that meant.

Toward the end of this school year, we realized my daughter would miss her moving up ceremony due to a planned trip. She was disappointed, but once again Ms. Tran went the extra mile for her.

She organized a surprise graduation last week with her entire class. She had her own graduation program printed. Classmates sang to her, gave speeches, gave her an award and flowers, even a homemade bracelet.

Valentina Tran, at the special moving up ceremony.

Needless to say, I was in tears. It meant the world to my daughter to feel accepted, part of her 5th grade community, and frankly, special.

Ms. Tran orchestrated all of this brilliantly, on top of all of her end of school year duties and taking great care of 20+ children. I am in awe of her dedication, kindness, thoughtfulness, and willingness to go the extra mile for her students.

We are so lucky to have Ms. Tran in the Westport school system. She is a true hero to my family and I’m sure many others too.

So many Westport educators go the extra mile for their students. Ms. Tran is one of many. But we’re honored to honor her today, as “06880”‘s Unsung Hero.

If you know an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com.

(“06880”  relies on support from readers, to keep our blog — and features like this — going. Please click here to help.)

Roundup: Gun Violence March, Scholar-Athletes, Girls On The Run …

Westport Moms send word of a “Stand up Against Gun Violence” march this Wednesday (June 8). It begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Anthropologie steps, and continues through town.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas will join the crowd. Marchers are urged to wear orange, and bring signs.

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You can’t say the town is not responsive.

At 10 a.m. yesterday morning, the “06880” Roundup included 2 photos of Grace Salmon Park. They showed benches at the popular Imperial Avenue park, covered in weeds and brush.

This was the scene at 9 a.m. today — less than 24 hours later:

(Photo/Werner Liepolt)

What an improvement! Thanks for the quick action!

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Staples High School held its 21st annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner last night — but the first since COVID struck.

It was a fascinating evening. Each varsity sport selects one senior. Each coach asks each scholar-athlete a question about his or her passions, achievements, hobbies, extracurricular activities or sports.

The answers — a minute or so each — are insightful, poised, poignant, and often funny. Taken together, they paint a remarkable picture of the student-athletes at Staples.

Last night’s questions ranged from volunteer efforts (Food Rescue US, helping a Holocaust survivor, transcribing Library of Congress records) to lessons learned from coaching little kids, building models to predict the spread of COVID, working on political campaigns and against gun violence, and selling South African snacks.

Even more remarkably, the scholar-athletes were on top of their game despite having attended the senior prom the night before (and post-prom parties after that).

As several speakers noted after hearing the 36 students speak: The future is in great hands.

Scholar-athletes honored, and their sports:

Fall: Emily Epstein (cheer), Zach Taubman (boys cross country), Josie Dolan (girls cross country), Ava Ekholdt (field hockey), Andrew O’Loughlin (football), Ben Epes (boys golf), Aidan Mermagen (boys soccer), Madison Sansone (girls soccer), Raina Mandayam (girls swimming), Ally Schwartz (girls volleyball), Jasper Cahn (boys water polo).

Winter: Michael Brody (boys basketball), Sydelle Bernstein (girls basketball), Mimi Schindler (gymnastics), Johnny Raho (ice hockey), Rory Tarsy (boys indoor track), Emma Nordberg (girls indoor track), Will Heisler (boys skiing), Kate Smith (girls skiing), Brian Fullenbaum (boys squash), Romy Nusbaum (girls  squash), Jacob Lee (boys swimming), Reese Watkins (wrestling).

Spring: Finn Popken (baseball), Lizzie Kuehndorf (girls golf), Derek Sale (boys lacrosse), Sara DiGiovanni (girls lacrosse), Alex Harrington (boys indoor track), Tessa Moore (girls outdoor track), Nick Prior (rugby), Erin Durkin (sailing), Caroline Coffey (softball), Matthew Chiang (boys tennis), Jordana Latzman, Ethan Moskowitz (boys volleyball), Rachel Offir (girls water polo).

The evening also included the awarding of several scholar-athlete scholarships. The Coleman Brothers Foundation presented Brewster Galley with a $40,000 award. Jalen St. Fort and George Kocadag each received a $6,500 Laddie Lawrence grant. Jaden Mueller got the $2,000 Albie Loeffler Scholarship.

Two other honors were handed out. Rory Tarsy was named the Thomas DeHuff Award winner, while Molly Liles earned the Jinny Parker Award.

After dinner, the scholar-athletes posed with their plaques. Here’s boys skiing honoree Will Heisler, and his parents.

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Speaking of sports: The Staples boys tennis team has repeated as state champions.

For the 5th time.

The Wreckers won their 6th straight title Saturday. They beat Greenwich 4-1 at Wesleyan University.

Winners included singles players Robbie Daus and Noah Wolff, and the doubles teams of Luke Brodsky and Alex Guadarrama, and Brett Lampert and Lucas Ceballas-Cala.

The individual invitation tourney begins today, also at Wesleyan. Tighe Brunetti and Daus will play singles, Brodsky and Guadarrama doubles.

Congratulations and good luck to all — including coach Kris Hrisovulos!

The state champion Staples boys tennis team (from left): coach Kris Hrisovulos, Holden Dalzell, Clint Graham, Hayden Frey, Noah Wolff, Tighe Brunetti, Luke Brodsky, Robbie Daus, Matthew Chiang, Jared Evans, Brett Lampert, Alex Guadarrama, Lucas Ceballos-Cala. (Photo/Bob Daus)

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Speaking once again of sports: Good luck to Staples’ boys lacrosse team. Ranked #2 in the state tournament, they face #3 Ridgefield on Wednesday (5 p.m., Fairfield University), in the semifinal round.

Go Wreckers!

Staples’ boys lacrosse team takes the field.

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This past weekend, 5 girls from Saugatuck Elementary School participated in the Fairfeld 5K along Jennings Beach.

But they didn’t run alone. The youngsters took part in Girls on the Run. The after-school program is part of a national positive youth development project for grades 3 to 7.

The season runs for 10 weeks. Twice a week, girls learn about and practice skills and positive mindsets, including positive self-talk, friendship, and the importance of individuality.

Each session includes running. Girls build endurance, culminating in that celebratory 5K.

Westport’s Girls on the Run has partnered with Westport Continuing Education. Three parent volunteers lead the local program. They hope to bring the program to other schools in town. Parents interested in helping can email mary.bentley@girlsontherun.org. All abilities are welcome.

Girls on the Run participants.

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Tower of Power rocked the Levitt Pavilion this weekend.

Which means another great season has begun.

Click here for upcoming concerts and special events. There’s something for everyone!

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David Ader writes:

“I admit this photo has the quality of some yahoo’s version of a sasquatch. I have sympathy for that yahoo.

“On Saturday night as I sat at my dinner table a very large and muscular bobcat sauntered across my backyard. I was both shocked and anxious as I dropped some pizza to distract my dog, and scrambled to get this photo.

“In its confident walk, the bobcat stopped for a moment to look at me while I feebly attempted to get my phone open for the photo. Imagine if it was a sasquatch!”

(Photo/David Ader)

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The sold-out audience at Saturday’s Westport Pride drag show at MoCA included a numberof families with children. In addition to dancing the performers offered a bit of LGBTQ history.

Yesterday, the mother of one youngster wrote to “06880”: “I feel very strongly that exposing children to all sorts of personal expressions and pathways is essential in order for them to know that there is not one cookie-cutter way to be in this world.

“To have our children witness a person living life, full of joy, as their 100% authentic and beautiful selves is a powerful gift I intend on exposing them to always.”

15-year-old Desmond is Amazing — a New York City drag artist — posed with young fans.

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Diane Bosch spotted this new object, bobbing in the channel at the mouth of the Saugatuck River.

She suspects it has something to do with the dredging plan. Is she right?

If any “06880” readers know for sure what this is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Diane Bosch)

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It’s strawberry season at the Westport Community Garden.

Lou Weinberg shared this luscious one — unfortunately, only photographically — for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … you knew this was coming, right?

“Shrek” On Stage At Saugatuck

“The show must go on” is a cliché. But Saugatuck Elementary School has managed to make lemonade out of lemons.

When COVID struck, they kept their upcoming show — “The Little Mermaid” — afloat. They turned clips into a video, and showed it on the big Remarkable Theater screen.

That was such a hit, they did a fully recorded show — “Charlie Brown” — over Zoom last year. Again, it delighted many Remarkable movie-goers.

After two years, the youngsters are back on the SES stage.

Saugatuck Theater Club is producing “Shrek The Musical JR.” The theme — “what makes us special makes us strong” — is timely, considering recent events like the sudden focus on Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.

Fiona (Ayla Ciano-Buckley, 5th grade, and understudies (from left) Sofia Amron (3rd grade) and Ella O’Brien (4th).

This being Westport, the Saugatuck El kids have a special coach/mentor: Broadway star Kelli O’Hara. She’s helping director Katie Bloom — along with the usual staff members and parent volunteers, who have waited 2 years for the chance.

The curtain rises Friday, April 8 (7 p.m). Performances follow the next day (Saturday, April 9) at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Click here for tickets.

Mila Carbino (3rd grade), one of the 3 pigs protesting Lord Farquad’s discrimination against the nonconformists of Duloc.

Unsung Heroes #222

As a Westport principal, Beth Messler appreciates the work of all school nurses.

“All the nurses here, and supervisor Sue Levasseur, are amazing,” she says.

But after dealing with the pandemic for nearly 2 years, she really appreciates the work Jane Sandri has done at their school: Saugatuck Elementary.

“Jane has been my absolute partner here She is always incredible, and during COVID she’s gone above and beyond.

Jane Sandri

“She is a leader, a trusted resource, and a confidante helping shepherd staff, students and families through this challenging time.”

In normal times, an elementary school nurse deals with youngsters who don’t feel well, the bumps and bruises of recess, and lice.

These are not normal times.

Jane is on duty 24/7. “She goes above and beyond to make sure every child, staff member and family feels comfortable,” Beth says.

“She reaches out personally. She wants to have conversations so she can answer questions live, not by email.

“And she always makes herself available to me outside of school hours, so I know what’s going on. Her personal touch alleviates stress for everyone.”

Jane Sandri — and all the school nurses in Westport — are on the front lines of COVID. It’s a tough, thankless, ever-changing task.

But there’s no one better to do it than these professionals. A grateful town salutes them, as our Unsung Heroes of the Week.

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

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.