Tag Archives: Staples High School Class of 1983

Roundup: Dog Fest, Equity Study, Fire Danger …

This Sunday, Westport’s dog park really goes to the dogs.

The 7th annual Dog Festival takes over Winslow Park on May 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event — produced by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and TAILS — celebrates all things canine.

The day includes guide dog and training demonstrations, a police K-9 presentation, an obstacle course (the winner gets a year’s supply of dog food), adoptables, kids activities, food trucks, information on non-profits, and more.

Prizes will be given for best tail wagger, best dressed, best kisser, best trick, best lap dog over 50 pounds and dog that most looks like its owner. Dog owners can register for the competitions at the festival, or online.

Surrounding the main activities are over 60 pet-related vendors, picture taking, caricatures, face painting, balloon bending and giveaways.

Proceeds from the entrance fee of $10 per person, and $30 for a family of 4 will benefit nonprofit organizations. So far, over $36,000 has been donated by the Chamber to local groups.

Parking is available at business lots along Post Road East. Click here for more Dog Festival information.


For months, the Board of Education has discussed an “Equity Study Action Plan.” The goal is to help all students feel a sense of belonging.

The debate continued Monday night, for 3 hours. But one of the most compelling comments came not from a board member, but from a teenager.

One who cannot even speak.

Wynston Browne — an autistic Staples High School sophomore — has made remarkable progress over the past 2 years, using a spelling device. His parents and teachers realize now that a very keen and incisive mind had been locked away for over a decade. Wynston’s goal is to be a neuroscientist.

On Monday, Wynston typed. His words appeared on screen: “I want to do things that all kids my age do. I want to eat lunch with friends in the Staples cafeteria, and laugh instead of being laughed at. I want to attend classes that are challenging.”

And, he concluded: “Everyone got it wrong, for so long. It’s time to make it right, starting now.”

Click here to see Wynston’s compelling 6-minute speech. He did not speak out loud — but his words said it all.


Effective immediately, the Westport Fire Department has banned all outside burning until further notice. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the entire state, due to extremely dry conditions.

The ban includes all recreational campfires and fire pits. Brush fires spread rapidly, and can threaten homes and property. 


Today’s “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast features an introduction to the Westport Center for Senior Activities’ new director, Wendy Petty.

She discusses her plans for the center with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker. Click below to listen to the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston production:


Westport Rotary club’s weekly lunches are always illuminating.

For 39 local non-profits, yesterday’s was also lucrative.

In a ceremony at Green’s Farms Church, the civic group distributed grants to each one. Funds came from the more than $200,000 raised by ticket sales and from sponsors of September’s LobsterFest.

Giving Committee chair Peter Helt handed charitable checks to representatives of, among others (in alphabetical order): A Better Chance of Westport, Builders Beyond Borders, Carver Foundation of Norwalk, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Mercy Learning Center, Norwalk Housing Foundation, Positive Directions, Remarkable Theater, Staples Tuition Grants, Westport Book Sales Ventures, Westport Country Playhouse, and Westport Volunteer EMS.

75 percent of LobsterFest proceeds go to local organizations; 25 percent to international organizations.

Rotarian Rick Benson described a few of those projects, including water sanitation efforts in Kenya and providing medical equipment to a hospital in Uganda.

Rotary Club members and grant recipients, at Green’s Farms Church.


Jeff Scher is a prolific filmmaker and animator.

The 1972 Staples High School graduate — now back in Westport, working in a Cross Highway studio a few steps from his house — has created everything from an HBO documentary about a Holocaust survivor, to holiday videos for Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, and a short film about summer and water.

He made the official video for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Teach Your Children.”

Now he’s made another one for Graham Nash’s new album. It’s environmentally themed — and there’s a “no mower” section that’s very Westport.

Click below to see:


Wheels2UWestport’s Park Connect returns this summer. The service — funded by Connecticut’s Departments of Transportation, and Energy and Environmental Protection — provides free rides to and from anywhere in Westport and Sherwood Island State Park.

Similar free-ride programs are available at 6 other state parks.

Rides are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends and holidays, beginning Memorial Day weekend and running through Labor Day.

Rides are available through the Wheels2U app Westporters use to and from the train station.

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

Sherwood Island — Westport’s “other” beach — is Connecticut’s first state park.


The Westport Woman’s Club and Congregation for Humanistic Judaism team up for an important event this Sunday (May 21; light breakfast, 9:30 a.m.; program, 10 a.m., 44 Imperial Avenue; click here for the livestream link with passcode 581845).

Dr. Deborah Varat, professor of art history at Southern New Hampshire University, presents “Arthur Szyk’s ‘The New Order’: How the Cartoons of a Polish Jew Helped Prepare the US for War.”

The cartoonist’s work helped Americans visualize and personalize the Nazi evil, against which they ultimately had to fight. Today his illustrations and impact on moving American public opinion toward readiness for war are commemorated in museums around the world. For more information on Szyk, click here.

Arthur Szyk’s “Freedom From Fear.”


Lime Rock Park celebrates the 37th anniversary of Paul Newman’s Trans-Am win with an exhibit of his racing estate on May 27, during the Trans Am Memorial Day Classic.

It includes helmets, racing suits and other memorabilia that former Westport resident Newman used during his storied career. Click here for tickets. (Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

Paul Newman at Lime Rock.


The Saugatuck Rowing Club was not around — not even a dream — when the Staples High School Class of 1983 graduated.

But that’s where their 40th reunion will be, on July 29 (6 to 10 p.m.).

Click here for tickets. Click here for the ’83 Facebook page.

Graduation Day, 1983.


This pond did not look particularly inviting — unless you’re a dog.

Mark Mathias captured today’s wet “Westport … Naturally” image at the Leonard Schine Preserve, off Weston Road.

(Photo/Mark Mathias)


And finally … happy 81st birthday to Taj Mahal.

The multi-talented musician (guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica and many other instruments) has incorporated Caribbean, African, Indian, Hawaiian and South Pacific sounds into his blues/rock/gospel/funk repertoire.

He has played all over the world — including, in 1971 and ’73, at Staples High School. He returned in 1974, to the Westport Country Playhouse.

(It’s a dog’s world, as the first story above explains. Don’t be a bitch. Help support “06880.” Please click here. Thank you!)

’83 Orphenians Ride The Chariot — Again

Most high school reunions include lots of laughter, drinking, reminiscing, drinking and dancing. Plus drinking.

The Staples Class of 1983 — well, some of them — added singing.

Thanks to current choral director Luke Rosenberg, they didn’t have to rely on (perhaps) fading memories. He provided Roger Wolfe with music.

Before last night’s big event, former members of the elite a cappella group got together at the Westport Inn to bring back their favorite songs —  including the famous, always-concert-ending “Ride the Chariot” spiritual.

It was a blast. Click here for a video of the Orphenians — 30 years later.

Among the Orphenians participating in the reunion songfest: susan Baer, Kristen Gehr Carley, Anne Burke Conley, Lisa Jones, Jack Rose, Sara Schapiro, Elizabeth Owens Wakefield, Cahterine Webster, Andy Weeks, David Witzel and Roger Wolfe

Orphenians at the reunion songfest included Susan Baer, Kristen Gehr Carley, Anne Burke Conley, Lisa Jones, Jack Rose, Sara Schapiro, Elizabeth Owens Wakefield, Cahterine Webster, Andy Weeks, David Witzel and Roger Wolfe.

3 Blogs

There’s something about the Staples Class of 1983 and blogs.

At least 3 members of that class recently joined the blogosphere.  And although they reference Westport only occasionally — and from various perspectives — it’s nice to think they honed their substantial writing chops here.

Shannon Woolfe now lives in Hillsborough, N.C.  Her blog — Do You Know the  Way to San Jose? — is filled with notes from her recently completed memoir about life with her horse-trainer mother, her life in Bermuda, and her youth in Westport.

Former Westporter Harry Reasoner had a trampoline behind his Long Lots Road house

It sounds like quite a youth.  At age 11, she found her way home — alone — from Newark Airport.  She and a friend often jumped on Harry Reasoner’s trampoline.  And she spent a hilarious night skinny-dipping with her boyfriend at Birchwood, then running from the Westport cops.

Matt Perry’s Mad-Dog Manifesto describes life in Chicken City, which one hopes is not the real name of the rural Georgia town where he teaches and coaches soccer.  Matt too is writing a memoir.  His posts are part of it, and though longer than most bloggers’, they’re hilarious.

(He was named head coach when his predecessor was “diplomatically non-renewed because he was a moron.”)

Jarret Liotta still lives in Connecticut.  His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and many local publications.  He recently completed his 1st novel, “Temporary Insanity.”

His “The Blog and I” is also sharp.  For instance, he’s the 1st person to write something I always wished I had the guts to.  After hearing Johnny Mathis over the holidays, Jarret said:  “I still get very uncomfortable whenever a black person sings… ‘May all your Christmases be white.'”

Shannon, Matt and Jarret have distinct, and very personal, voices.  All 3 are also working together on their writing.

A horse trainer from North Carolina, a soccer coach from Chicken City and a writer who takes on Johnny Mathis.  And they all got their start in Westport.