Tag Archives: Staples High School Class of 1982

Grayer’s Gift Spurs Staples Reunion Grant

Jonathan Grayer has spent his career in education.

As CEO of Kaplan, the 1982 Staples High School and ’86 Harvard University graduate turned the test prep company into the 2nd largest online education provider in the world.

He retired in 2008, then started Imagine Learning. He now serves as chair and CEO. Its digital curriculums make enormous differences in some of the largest and neediest public school districts in America.

Jonathan Grayer

Grayer is a philanthropist too. His main passions are cancer research and post-secondary schooling. His Kaplan Educational Foundation — “Rhodes Scholars for Community Colleges” — sends students from 2-year schools to Ivy League and other top universities.

But Grayer has not forgotten his Westport roots. And he knows that in this affluent community, plenty of families cannot afford the enormous (and skyrocketing) cost of college.

“It can be a lonely journey — especially with all the pressures already on kids,” he says.

So when he heard (via “06880”) that in conjunction with their 40th reunion, his Staples class was raising funds for Staples Tuition Grants, something clicked.

He sent a personal $25,000 check. Together with more than $5,000 in donations from reunion-goers, the result is an endowed fund, named for The Staples Class of 1982.

It’s believed to be the biggest class gift in STG’s 79-year history.

Staples Class of 1982 reunion organizers (from left) Dixie Webb O’Brien, Kim Hamer and Jeff Ruden enjoy the festivities.

Grayer did not make it back to Westport for the reunion. He was hosting a large family gathering at his Sagaponack home.

But his gift was noted often.

And it will be remembered for many years to come by Staples graduates who will benefit from a college education, thanks to the care and generosity of alumni who preceded them more than 40 years earlier.

(To learn more about Staples Tuition Grants — including how to donate — click here.)

(Like Staples Tuition Grants, “06880” is a non-profit. Please click here to support this blog.) 

Roundup: Bad Bad Drivers, Burgers, Mandarin School …

Most of the day, I slide my bad/entitled parking photos near the end of “06880.”

More important info comes at the top. By the time you get to a photo of some self-centered numbskull taking up 3 spaces, hogging half a sidewalk or whatever, you’re ready for a diversion. Sure, they’re selfish, self-satisfied SOBs, but they’re not really hurting anyone.

Well, this cretin could have:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Think about it.

This “person” — who somehow is licensed to drive a motor vehicle — ignored a very large “Do Not Enter” sign 100 yards or so back.

Then he (it was a young guy) drove past vehicles facing the other direction on both sides, plus at least one very large arrow. also pointing the other direction.

And then he walked away.

Words fail, at a time like this.

Except for one final thought: It’s a pretty shitty parallel parking job, too.

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The Westport Library’s soaring, flexible and well-used indoor space is called the Trefz Forum.

Most people who enjoy the pyramid seating, giant screen and state-of-the-art sound system have no idea who Christian J. Trefz — the man for whom it’s named — is.

That will change on Saturday, July 9. His new memoir — “The Right Side of the Hamburger” — will be celebrated with a book launch at a private party. It’s available for sale at the Library the next day, and on Amazon.

In association with The Legacy Project USA — a Westport company specializing in documenting and writing life stories for people who want to preserve and tell their history — Trefz spent over a year working on his book.

It tells the tale of how he and his brother became successful. The son of German immigrants, Chris and Ernie grew up in New Haven. They learned important lessons about family closeness, hard work, and determination.

The brothers purchased their first McDonald’s franchise in 1964. Their empire now encompasses over 50 McDonald’s restaurants throughout Connecticut and New York.

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In each issue, the bi-monthly print/digital Civilian Magazine profiles 10 or so influencers, in areas like sports, business, politics, fashion and pop culture.

Last year, local photographer Jenae Weinbrenner was assigned to a shoot at  Nile Rodgers’ Westport home.

With COVID raging, there were no agents, assistants or creative directors around. For an hour, Nile and Jenae talked about life, music, and their love for this town.

“As a photographer, you never get that kind of one-on-one time with a celebrity,” Jenae says. “This was special. I’m so grateful I got to experience it. He was the kindest person — and generous too.”

The other day, the publication retweeted the story. Jenae realized she had never shared it with her “06880” friends and neighbors.

Click here for the magazine (it’s behind a paywall).

Nile Rodgers (Photo/Jenae Weinbrenner for Civilian Magazine)

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Happy Panda Mandarin School opened 12 years ago, in the basement of a Weston home.

It grew quickly, and relocated to Wilton.

Now it’s moved again: to 2nd floor space in Westport’s Nash’s Plaza (179 Post Road West).

Classes resume September 1: Chinese HSK (1-6 levels), Chinese Made Easy (1-4 levels), Writing and Homework Help.

For more information click here, email info@hpmandarinschool.org, or call 203-291-9228. (Hat tip: Felicia Catale)

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One Chinese door opens, another closes:

Open Rice — the Post Road takeout place between the Sherwood Diner and Earth Animal — is shuttered.

Loyal customers are disappointed. Unfortunately, there must not have been enough of them.

Open Rice is closed.

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Wheels2U Westport is expanding.

As of July 5, the Westport Transit District’s on-demand, group ride, door-to-train shuttle service will soon include from Hiawatha Lane to Saugatuck Shores in the westernmost area of Westport, and Westway Road and Parsell Lane in the east.

Now, virtually all of the town is covered.

Reverse commuters can also use the service to travel between the trains and their place of employment in Westport. 

Wheels2U can also be used to enjoy dinner at Saugatuck restaurants.

Riders using the Wheels2U Westport app request a pickup  between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m., for rides between the Westport or Greens Farms train platform and their front door. Pickups for trips to the stations should be requested 20 minutes before you would leave to drive there. The $2 fare is paid via the Wheels2U app.

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. To learn about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

Wheels2U’s Saugatuck Shores expansion. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

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Friends since middle school, Dixie Webb O’Brien, Jeff Ruden, Kim Hamer and John McCarthy are planning their Staples High School Class of 1982 reunion — with a twist.

In addition to getting together after 40 years (!), they wanted to give back to the town they still live in, and love.

Classmates are encouraged to donate to Staples Tuition Grants. Already, they’ve raised $2,000.

‘82 grads can reserve a spot for the August 6 event at Saugatuck Rowing Club, plus Friday and Sunday gatherings —  and/or make a donation to the class tuition grant — via email :dixiewebbobrien@gmail.com

Staples Class of ’82 co-chairs (clockwise from upper left): Jeff Ruden, Dixie Webb O’Brien, Kim Hamer, John McCarthy.

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Longtime Westport resident Janet Bangser died earlier this month, at the age of (her family says) “don’t even.”

An only child born in 1928 in New York City to Jules Rutstein, a dentist, and Esther Klar Rutstein, assistant to the producer at Radio City Music Hall, she attended Horace Mann School for Girls, then earned a BA in English and American literature from Brown University in 1949.

A voracious reader, one of her first jobs was to write script synopses for MGM.

International travel was a dominant theme throughout Janet’s life; she made overseas trips from an early age. She and her husband Bill Bangser visited many countries on 6 continents, including several extended stays in Europe with their 4 children. Janet and Bill made lifelong friends around the world.

The family moved to Westport in 1961. When her children were grown Janet entered the travel industry, as an agent for Minute Man Travel. In 1978 she formed Pathfinder’s Travel, a full-service agency in Westport. For the next 40 years, Janet and her staff used first-hand knowledge of travel destinations to serve corporate and vacation travelers. Janet remained active in the business well into her ninth decade. She and Bill continued their frequent travels, often with Westport friends.

In addition to her business and motherhood, Janet served as president of the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.

Janet was predeceased by Bill, her husband of 67 years. She is survived by her children: Andrew (Barbara) of Westport; Paul (Liz) of Bethesda, Maryland.; Jill (Jeff) Boynton of Newington, New Hampshire. and Dan (Jennifer) Bangser of Norwalk; 8 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren, and her sister-in-law Rita Bangser of Somers, New York.

Janet’s family says, “we will forever miss the devoted matriarch of our family, her intellect, her love of travel (and good wine!), her cooking, her eternally positive outlook, and her entrepreneurial spirit.”

Burial was private. All are welcome at a memorial service on July 23 (10 a.m., Westport Library). In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Westport Library.

Janet Bangser

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Most “Westport … Naturally” photos are striking — but straightforward.

This one asks a question: Can you spot the bee?

Thanks for this great submission go to 15-year-old Benji Porosoff!

(Photo/Benji Porosoff)

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And finally … in honor of the top story above:

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flashback #165

Today is Staples High School’s Homecoming. There’s an afternoon pep rally; all fall teams will be introduced. There’s a football game at night. The stands will be full. Captains of all sports are announced at halftime.

That’s it. No dance. No Homecoming king or queen. No

It’s been that way for a couple of decades. Dances are out of favor. King and queen are not cool. Floats got the kibosh years ago, because the heavy trucks that pulled them damaged the track.

Several years ago, when lights were added to the football field, the Saturday afternoon event moved to Friday night.

So here’s a look back, 50 years ago. In 1969, Leslie Wilker was Homecoming Queen…

… and here’s a typical float. Each class built one (somehow, the seniors always won).

Floats did not always have a G-rated theme. In 1984 — when the drinking age in Connecticut was 18 — the senior class celebrated Homecoming with a bottle, and this slogan:

That decade-plus of 18-year-old drinking made Staples a different place. In 1982, administrators gave a special gift to all seniors, at the prom: a beer mug.

And in 1975, the yearbook included this photo, of the “Trojan Club”:

It’s a different time today, for sure.

See you at Homecoming tonight!

The Way We Were

Most high school reunions follow the same pattern. There are squeals of recognition (or puzzled, who-the-hell-are-you? looks). There’s dinner and dancing. Maybe a slide show plays in the background, but no one notices.

At the Staples Class of 1982 reunion earlier this month, everyone watched.

Soreyrith Um created a 14-minute video that will intrigue anyone remotely close to that age — whether they grew up here or not. Along with dozens of photos — some from the yearbook, many taken by Soreyrith himself — he’s integrated video from Kirsten Gill Bartie.

Though a few things have changed — the guys’ shorts are cringe-inducing, the cars are vintage, and there’s a card catalog in the library — what is remarkable is how little is different.

Tracy Rodino and Betsy Gross, outside the now-defunct Sport Mart on Main Street.

Hair styles, sweatshirts, goofing around in the cafeteria, boys and girls hanging all over each other — teenagers from 1982 are almost interchanageable with those in 2012.

A video from 1952 — 30 years earlier — would be almost unrecognizable.

I’d love to hear what today’s high school students think, watching the boys and girls who are now men and women, the same ages as their parents.

Or, in some cases, actually are their parents.

One thing kids will immediately notice: all the alcohol. Senior Skip Day was held at Sherwood Island, and nearly everyone was drinking in public.

Then again, the legal age was 18…

(Click here to view Soreyrith and Kristen’s remarkable video.)