Tag Archives: Staples High School Class of 2020

For Staples Grads, Choosing A College Was Easy. Now The Tough Choices Begin.

When first-year students head to Dartmouth College in September, they’ll make history.

Everyone will have their own room, or live in a 2-bedroom double. After being tested for COVID-19, those who are negative will quarantine in their rooms for 14 days. All meals will be delivered.

Anyone violating the strict coronavirus protocols — including being in another student’s room — must leave campus within 24 hours. That won’t be difficult: Students have been told to bring “only those items they can take with them if required to leave on short notice.”

None of that bothers Sam Laskin. The recent Staples High School graduate is excited to attend the school that accepted him early decision last December.

Sam Laskin

Sam — who served as Staples Players president — was attracted to Dartmouth by its focus on undergraduate education, strong government program and great extracurriculars.

Classes — most of them conducted remotely — will be far different this fall. Many clubs will not meet in person. Even Dartmouth’s vaunted first-year orientation program — featuring camping and hiking trips — has been canceled.

After the pandemic slammed into Staples — knocking out, along with everything else, Players’ spring production of “Seussical” just hours before opening night — Sam kept busy.

He worked with Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long on a virtual show. He MC-ed the Class of 2020’s graduation video.

And he waited to hear Dartmouth’s plan. When it was announced that his class (and juniors) had “priority” for this fall — though members of those classes could opt to study entirely remotely, or take a gap year — he decided to head to Hanover.

“I had a great 4 years at Staples. But I’m ready to move on,” Sam explains. “I want to be in an environment where everyone is learning.

“I want to meet people in real life, not on social media. A huge reason I chose Dartmouth is the community. Some traditions will be gone this year, but the school is committed to bringing us into the Dartmouth community. I want to be there for it.”

Most of Sam’s friends will attend their schools this fall. He cannot think of any who will take a gap year because of the virus.

This is a “harrowing time,” Sam admits. Yet he has faith that his classmates — those from Staples, and soon at Dartmouth — will emerge from it with strength of character, and a desire to do good things in the world.

“Life goes on,” he says. “We adapt and adjust.”

Like Sam, recent Staples graduate Patricio Perez Elorza has been accepted by an Ivy League school.

But he will not be there this fall.

Patricio Perez Elorza

COVID struck while Patricio was still weighing his school choices. He chose Yale University because of its excellent academic reputation, including pre-law program; its proximity to New York City, where he hopes to work; the “vibrant” city of New Haven, and the school spirit.

He was also impressed by “Bulldog Days”: a series of Zoom videos and conferences throughout April.

But when he was given the option of enrolling for the fall semester or deferring admission, Patricio chose the latter.

“A lot of the college experience is meeting new people, going to class and interacting with professors,” he says.

“With almost every class online, you miss all that. I like learning in person.”

He also would miss participating in a business club and club soccer, neither of which would occur this fall.

And — because only sophomores, juniors and seniors will be on campus next spring — he decided to wait until next fall.

He’s already got a gap year job: launching and managing an app to help the O Living construction firm with its projects. He’ll take a course to learn Excel, and stay involved with both the Staples soccer program and his St. Luke Church youth group.

In the spring, when restrictions may ease, he hopes to travel.

Of Patricio’s friends, one will attend Yale this fall. Some are going to college; others will stay home, studying online. A few are taking gap years.

Their moods vary, he says. “The ones who are going to school are optimistic. They hope for the best. The others are doing gap years because they think college won’t be what they expected.”

The high school Class of 2020 has been through a lot. As they begin their next journey, the college Class of 2024 faces much more uncharted territory.

Roundup: Beach, Pool, Golf And Tennis News; #ILoveWestport; Lucky Grad; Fireworks; More

Here’s the latest update from Westport Parks & Rec:

Starting Wednesday, July 1, lifeguards will staff Compo and Burying Hill beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All regular beach rules will be enforced, in addition to all COVID-19 rules. Boogie boards and skim boards are permitted.

The Longshore pools will remain closed, due to state restrictions and limited staffing resources.

Parks and Rec director Jennifer Fava says her department “will continue to monitor the guidance from the state, Should restrictions ease, and we can staff appropriately, we will reevaluate the possibility of opening the pool complex.”

Starting tomorrow (Saturday, June 27), 2 players may share a golf cart. Both must wear face coverings in the cart, and the same person must drive the cart the entire time. Exception: members of the same household are not required to wear face covering in a cart, and valid drivers may alternate.

Also starting tomorrow, all tennis courts at Longshore, Staples High School, Town Farm and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck School) are open for both singles and doubles play. All platform tennis and pickleball courts are open for singles and doubles too.

During the lockdown, town officials emphasized: “We’re all in this together.”

That’s the message during reopening too. To drive it home, they asked a variety of people to make personal promises for keeping everyone healthy.

Anthony John Rinaldi taped those promises. He’s making them into a series of videos, all tagged #ILoveWestport.

In the first one, restaurant owner Bill Taibe promises to keep cooking. Farmers’ Market director Lori McDougall promises to support local vendors. Police Chief Foti Koskinas promises to keep Westporters safe.

There are more too, in this quick video — including a special “06880” appearance. Click below to see.

Like many Westporters, Serkan Elden kept his “Proud Family of 2020 Staples High School Graduate” sign up, even after the ceremony 2 weeks ago. He is justifiably proud of his daughter Deniz, a great member of the senior class that went through so much this year.

Someone else is proud too.

The other day Deniz found an envelope in the Eldens’ mailbox. It was addressed simply: “The Graduate.”

Inside she found a note: “Congratulations 2020! Hope this is a Winner! Good Luck. From, Anonymous Lyons Plain Rd. Neighbor.”

Attached was a Double Match lottery scratch card.

She did not win. 🙁 But odds are good that this is a gift Deniz will remember long after the coronavirus is history.

If you missed last weekend’s “Stand Up (At Home) for Homes with Hope” comedy show — no problem.

An encore presentation is set for Wednesday (July 1, 8 p.m.). Four very funny comedians joined Staples grad/noted songwriter Justin Paul for a wonderful hour of entertainment.

Click here to register. And if you saw the show the first time around, you’ll receive an automatic link to watch again.


There are no 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach this year.

And, the Westport Fire Department warns, there should be none anywhere in town.

The note that all fireworks are illegal in Connecticut, expect sparklers and fountains.

Also illegal: items like party poppers, snakes, smoke devices, sky lanterns and anything that emits a flame. Possessing or exploding illegal devices could result in a fine or jail.

Note too: Extremely dry conditions make it easy for fireworks, sparklers and fountains to cause brush fires.

And finally … as other states find themselves in the same situation Connecticut was in 2 months ago, we here are thinking of our friends around the nation.

Class Of 2020 REALLY Graduates! Here’s Video Proof.

Last Friday’s drive-through graduation was a red-blue-letter day in Staples history.

The high school’s Class of 2020 was honored with decorated cars, signs, balloons, music, and an almost 1-on-1 ceremonial turning of the tassel. It was joyful, personal, meaningful and fun.

Of course, a few elements of a traditional graduation were missing: “Pomp and Circumstance,” speeches, and the chance for everyone to see all the graduates at once.

No problem!

Yesterday — the day of the originally scheduled commencement — a complete video was released. It’s as close to a familiar graduation — say, 2019 — as possible. And it will live forever.

Former media instructor Jim Honeycutt once again worked his magic. He took each element, reimagined it, taped it, and made it — just like the Class of 2020 — both timeless and timely.

John Videler’s drone video sets the scene.

Drone footage from John Videler sets the “Pomp and Circumstance” scene. Staples Players president Sam Laskin serves as emcee. Principal Stafford Thomas delivers a special welcome.

Luke Rosenberg proves he’s not only a masterful choral director, but also a technological wizard. He weaves together remote performances from 40 singers, into a stunningly beautiful “Star-Spangled Banner.”

You wouldn’t know these 40 voices were all recorded separately.

Valedictorian Ben Spector and salutatorian Benji Schussheim speak about their — and their class’s — journey.

Valedictorian Ben Spector and salutatorian Benji Schussheim.

Then comes a slide show. All 437 graduates get 10 seconds each — with congratulatory messages from their families. Orchestra and band musical highlights from throughout the year play in the background, underscoring the many talented students in the school.

No graduation is complete without official certification (from Board of Education chair and “proud parent of a graduating senior Candice Savin), and tassel-turning (by Carly Dwyer and Ben Howard).

After closing remarks from principal Thomas, the video ends with the recessional, over Ryan Felner’s drone footage from last Friday’s parade.

Principal Stafford Thomas.

A list of senior awards is shown. The final shot is 2020 class photo.

“Class” is right. This year’s seniors have shown uncommon maturity, grace and poise, in the face of unexpected adversity. The graduation video is a fitting reminder of a great group.

But don’t take my word for it. Click here, and see for yourself!

Emcee Sam Laskin.

Wall Of Wishes Greet Class Of 2020

Kelly Konstanty’s son AJ graduated today from Staples High School. The coronavirus robbed the Class of 2020 of the chance to celebrate together — just as it took so much else away.

To augment the “drive-through” ceremony, Kelly had an idea: a “Wall of Wishes.” She put large posters at ASF and Saugatuck Sweets, for anyone to write on; she also set up a special email address.

Best wishes poured in. Kelly collected them all. She and fellow mother-of-a-graduate Melissa Augeri hand-wrote them all on individual posters. This morning, Kelly and Staples mom Stacie Curran placed them all along the parade route, leading to the school. It was an enormous undertaking.

And an amazing sight to see.

So what do Westporters wish for our graduates? Read on!

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! – The Thaw Family 

Congratulations 2020 Staples Seniors…”Always stay in a STANCE!” – Coach Goldshore

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” – Gever Tulley 

Congratulations Staples Class of 2020 – The Sternberg Family

Restore wishes the Staples Class of 2020 a lifetime of wellness and best of luck on all of your future endeavors!

First-year principal Stafford Thomas said goodbye today to his first graduating class.

The power of grit, endurance and perseverance will take you far! – The Laskin Family

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! The Heisler family is cheering you on. Westport strong!

Congratulations on your graduation!! The Class of 2020 will always be known as the one that survived a pandemic, racial divides and witnessed a nation coming together to make this country a better place. Not only did you adapt but came out better people for it. – The Hwang Family

Way to go Class of 2020! If COVID couldn’t stop you, nothing can! Keep making us proud! – The Connors Family

Congratulations class of 2020! Your class represents strength and grace! – The Brannigan Family

Best of Luck to the Class of 2020!  – The Feuer Family

Class of 2020 rocks “06880”! THANKS for all you did – – and you did it with grace, passion, pride and “class.” –   Dan Woog

(Photo/Kelly Konstanty)

“On the other side of this storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sails and BEGIN!” – Gregory S. Williams

CONGRATULATIONS to the truly unique and amazing Class of 2020!! – XO  – The Bowens Family

Wishing the Class of 2020 all the best. – The Iannacone Family

Congratulations Class of 2020.  The best is yet to come! XO – The Augeri Family

The only way is up from here. Best of luck to all the awesome Staples graduates!  Love, Sandy & Gary Mitchell (AKA Meeme & Beepee)

Congratulations to the Most Resilient Senior Class: Staples Class of 2020, deserves the Trophy of the Year!! Your Strength, Tenacity and Flexibility will carry you through any challenges you meet as you continue your journey through Life!! Stay strong with the wisdom to support Truth & Kindness when needed!! Tipping a Glass of Cheers and Smiles to and for all of you!!  – The Pink House Lady

Congratulations Class of 2020! – Fran Smith (a.k.a. Aunt Fran) SHS Class of ‘45

Staples Class of 2020, You have all proven to be a group of resilient and flexible young adults. I congratulate you all! I know that we, the community, will benefit from how this time will mold you well into the future. You have the power to create and follow your dreams, now go live them. – Janine & Pietro Scotti

 Your wings already exist! All you have to do is fly. – The Massoud Family

Good Luck! Be yourself. Find yourself. XO

Chef Tor Sporre wishes you a better world.  Be part of it! – (Dancing Tulip picture drawn here)

Good luck in your new adventures!

Best wishes for your exciting journey ahead! – The Rizy Family

Best of luck to you all! Wishing you success & happiness! Much love, The Sutter Family

Way to make History Class of 2020! We always knew you would. 🙂 Great things lie ahead for you all. – The Howard Family

Congratulations Class of 2020! The best is yet to come. – ASF Sports & Outdoors

The poster outside ASF, before dozens of well-wishers added their thoughts.

We are so proud of you and all you have done‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️ Hearty Congratulations Graduates♥️️ – Grandma B/Grandpa M

Congratulations to the entire Staples 2020 graduating class. You have missed a great deal of your last year of high school but you are all resilient & talented and will no doubt go on to do great things! Go Wreckers! – The Burg Family

Don’t ever underestimate your strength, wisdom and compassion! You have been incredible during these unique times. Congratulations to this amazing class of 2020! – The Messenger Family

When it rains, look for the rainbows. When it’s dark, look for the stars.  Congratulations to the Class of 2020! YOU are the rainbows and the stars of the future! Dream Big! – The Hughes Family (Aunt K, Uncle Tom & Jameson)

Staples 2020! This is not the usual grad celebration, but you are not the usual class. You’ll work harder than you think and go farther than you can dream! Embrace it all! – The Vandis Family

Class of 2020 – “virtually” the greatest SHS class of all time! Go get ‘em! – The DesMarteau Family

Dear Staples High School Class of 2020, You did it! You finished an historic run to your High School Diploma in this unprecedented time. Bravo and remember you are Stronger than you know, this will not define you. Make the world a better place.  – Paul Lenihan

I am myself a Staples graduate so my simple message is: ONCE A WRECKER ALWAYS A WRECKER! – Arline P. Gertzoff (RTM3)

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

To all the Staples Seniors; This has been a strange and unusual year. As you go on  to your next adventure know that you have dealt so well under extraordinary circumstances and this will help you deal even better with whatever comes your way.  Wishing you all, all the best! – The Pressman Family

Class of 2020: Thank you for your contributions to Westport! You will be missed. Godspeed in your next adventures! – The Foisie Family

Dream BIG class of 2020! – The Zinn Family

To the Spectacular Staples Class of 2020, Your Strength, Smarts and Support of Community will Steer you to great Success in Anything you Seek. Much Love, From The Curran Family

Class of 2020, what a long strange trip it’s been. Go forth fearlessly, you guys have got this!” – The Braunstein Family

To the Staples Class of 2020: May your strength and determination be the shining gifts that guide you forward. Congratulations to you all. – Judith Marks-White

Congrats to the Class of 2020! We are so proud of you and all you have accomplished! – The Navarro Family

Staples High School seal, in front lobby (Photo copyright Lynn U. Miller)

To the amazing class of 2020, we wish you all the best life can offer! Live confidently, passionately and with endless curiosity. Dream all that you can become, become all that you can dream! – The Frost Family

Dear 020 Graduating Seniors: As Maya Angelou put it the best. Let your life not be measured by the breaths you take but rather the moments that take your breath away. Best of luck!  XO – The Konstanty Family

Please take the disappointment from the end of this year to fuel your determination to launch your dreams for next year. With much love the Moody Famil

Congratulations to the Class of 2020!! In this crazy year we honor you as you have had to endure so much! This too shall pass; the future will be brighter and you will be stronger. Onward! Love, Joan Konstanty (AKA Gram)

Carpe Diem!  – The Manna Family

Congratulations to the entire class of 2020!! The best is yet to come. – The Porio Family

Congratulations Class of 2020! Wishing you happiness in all that you do. – The Teed Family

Best to our Staples Seniors – thank you for your guidance, support and paving the way. Xo The Rossman Family

Congrats Staples High School Class of 2020 – The Bakshi Family

Congrats Class of 2020. You rocked it! Love, The Greifenbergers

Congratulations and Best Wishes to the Class of 2020! – The Desser Family

Relish you are part of history, now go make your mark on the world. – The Chevrier Family

Dream high…laugh, learn and love along the way! Congratulations on your accomplishments and enjoy the journey ahead. The Obsitnik Family

To the Class of 2020: We  wish for you a world better than the one you were born into, the tenacity, strength and emotional intelligence  to be able to identify injustice and address it, the ability to see your potential and to go for it, and the patience to both listen and respect those whose experiences differ from your own. You are our future, the next leg in the relay. We pass the baton to you, but we don’t let go of it just yet for we still have so much to pass along to you, while all the while absorbing the lessons you have for us. You are the Class of 2020, a blessed and brilliant bunch that will go down in history. No go change the world! – The Dockray Family

A Tribute To Staples’ Class Of 2020

I can’t imagine what it’s like being a Staples High School senior today.

This should have been such a memorable spring.

There should have been a prom, the High Honors and Scholar-Athlete dinners, Awards Night.

After 12 1/2 years of school there should have been the joy of winding down. There should have been days of congratulations from teachers on college acceptances, nights hanging with friends, weekends at the beach, on boats and by pools.

After 4 weeks of internships in real workplaces that help you feel confident for whatever lies ahead, you should have come together one final time as a class. You should have enjoyed a warm, loving baccalaureate ceremony in the auditorium, a hot but happy graduation in the fieldhouse, and an endless round of parties all over town.

Instead — randomly, instantly, through absolutely no fault of your own — you lost all that.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Some athletes lost a chance to play for a state championship; others lost a chance to play at all. Actors and tech crews lost an opportunity to present their final show, just hours before the opening curtain. Musicians lost the chance to shine, first in the auditorium, then in the Levitt Pavilion before a jam-packed townwide audience. The state champion “We the People” team lost the reward — and excitement — of traveling to Washington, DC for the national competition.

All of that is gone. In its place, you’ve spent nearly 3 months in a world no one recognizes. Everywhere you felt at home — Staples, athletic fields, Wakeman Town Farm, the library, restaurants, Earthplace, Starbucks — was shut.

It’s been quite a time for first-year Staples principal Stafford Thomas. On Thursday, he says goodbye to his first class of graduates.

The last place you wanted to be in your final months as a senior — home — was where you spent nearly all your time. Your teachers and classmates were reduced to boxes on a computer screen. Your friends became mere FaceTime faces.

You — the seniors of Staples High School — are collateral damage, in a pandemic you played no part in creating, but cannot escape.

And you never will. For the rest of your lives, the Class of 2020 will be known as “The COVID Class.”

You’ve got your caps and gowns — you picked them up recently alone, wearing masks and at a proper social distance. A few days from now, you’ll graduate  — coronavirus-style. Perhaps you’ll toss your mortarboard in the air, as your parents and siblings watch. It will be one final, poignant reminder of all that you’ve lost.

But my hat is off to you.

I don’t know how I would have reacted, if a crisis like this struck when I was at Staples. But I am sure I would not have shown the maturity, the grace, the compassion and the class that the Class of 2020 has shown.

When school closed on March 11 — and when the initial 2-week shutdown stretched to mid-April, then all the way through June — I feared what was to come.

I wondered how bitter the seniors would be. I braced for complaints large and small, justified and not. I prepared myself for the worst.

My bad. I’ve known you seniors for 4 years. I should have expected more.

You’ve been asked to make big sacrifices. You’re not in a high risk group for this disease, but you understand that staying safe is not just about you — it’s about your parents, grandparents, and those with health concerns you may or may not know about. You get it. Without complaint, you’ve made those sacrifices.

With the usual arts, sports and extra-curriculars gone, you turned to new activities. You made masks, ran errands for those who could not venture out, and donated food to the hungry. You collected supplies for the needy, raised funds for worthy causes, and made meals for frontline workers.

Helping out, at the Gillespie Center.

If you’re on WWPT, you kept your radio station going. If you’re in Staples Players, you put on a virtual show. If you’re in the “We the People” class, you redoubled your efforts (and finished 5th in the nation).

You not only adapted to “distance learning,” you helped your teachers help others. Then you warmed those teachers’ hearts, by thanking them often for all they did.

Forced to spend time with your siblings, you became role models — true big brothers and sisters — even more than you’d been before. You helped your parents too. Who knew you could cook, garden and paint houses so well?

With unexpected time on your hands, you filled it in ways that surprised even yourselves. You learned to play guitar, speak a new language, sew. You read actual books.

I’ve always been a supporter of Westport’s teenagers. I’ve seen far more of your good sides than bad. Over the years, I’ve tried to highlight your accomplishments. I don’t lack for stories.

For the past 3 months though, you — the senior class — have not acted like teenagers. You’ve acted like mature, responsible Westporters — great, wonderful, contributing members of our community. That why it’s especially sad we cannot give you the graduation ceremony you deserve.

In fact, ever since the pandemic began you have given us something.

You’ve given us hope.

The world is a mess right now. Our country is even messier. We need you — the Class of 2020 — desperately.

As you move into an uncertain future, please keep doing what you’ve already done so well. Please look outside yourselves. Please lend a hand to anyone — next door, in your neighborhood, anywhere in Westport or Connecticut or the country or planet — who needs it. Please use your brains and talents and hearts to clean up the mess we’ve given you.

The Class of 2020 — the COVID Class — has already made history. Now you’ve got the rest of your lives to rewrite it.


Roundup: July 4th House Decorating Contest; #FridayFlowers; More

There will be no 4th of July fireworks this year. But you can still show your patriotism — and win tickets to the 2021 show.

Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department and Westport PAL — the sponsors of what is usually our town’s biggest party — are collaborating on the first-ever “4th of July House Decorating Contest.”

They encourage residents to decorate the side of your house most visible from the street, showing off the themes of “patriotism” and “America.”

Click here to register, so your house can be judged (on July 2). There are 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.

BONUS: The winning houses will be featured on “06880” too!

Showing the flag, on Hillspoint Road.


The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is honoring Staples High School’s graduating seniors with a special tribute: banners, flying high.

Every 12th grader’s name — all 443 — is on one of the 39 handsome, Staples-blue pennants. They were a surprise until yesterday. Now everyone can see them, on Main Street, Elm Street and Church Lane.

One more great reason to head downtown!

Nicole and Victoria Caiati, with “their” banner.

The Westport Garden Club’s #FridayFlowers campaign brought them this week to St. Luke Church. There was special meaning for their volunteer efforts: The club’s monthly meetings — open to the public — are held in the church’s Community Room.

Westport Garden Club member Louise Demakis (left) with Sister Maureen in the garden at St. Luke Church. (Photo/ Kelle Ruden)

On Thursday, Aly Sivinski graduates from Staples High School. Since her first half-marathon 2 years ago, it was her dream to run in the New York City Marathon.

COVID-19 made that impossible this fall. But with time on her hands now, she decided to run her own half-marathon around here. She spent the past 8 weeks training, and will run her half on June 21.

Aly says, “Due to recent events in our society and the continued perpetuation of systemic racism, I have to decide to use my run to raise money for Black Lives Matter and the Connecticut Bail Fund.”

She hopes for either a flat donation of $13.10 (for the 13.1 miles), or a pledge of a any amount per mile. Click here to help.

Aly Sivinski

And finally … powerful, thought-provogking words from Depeche Mode:

“Wall Of Wishes” For 2020 Grads

The Staples High School Class of 2020 will not have a traditional graduation. Instead, on June 11 they’ll take part in a car parade.

But one Westporter wants to make sure they know the entire town is thinking of them. She’s created a “Wall of Wishes.”

She delivered blank posters to ASF Sports & Outdoors and Saugatuck Sweets. Everyone is invited to write a message, quote, or words of encouragement to the graduates (bring your own sharpie!).

“Let them know they are not alone, and there is so much more out there,” Kelly — whose son AJ is one of those seniors — says.

“It will get better. They will to be stronger from this — even though it doesn’t seem so right now.”

Kelly will post the messages along the route for the grads to see. She and I will find a way to share them on “06880” too.

If you have any questions — or prefer to email your wishes — send them to wallofwishes2020@gmail.com. The deadline is next Friday (June 5).

COVID Roundup: Yarn Bombing; Minute Man Flowers; Masks; Movies; More

Anne Craig is familiar to Westporters. She spent 15 years on TV, as an entertainment and features reporter for Fox 5 in New York, and evening news anchor on New Haven’s Channel 8.

These days Anne is home in Westport with her husband and young kids. But  she still loves telling stories — and tells them very, very well.

This one is about Westport’s mysterious “yarn bomber.” We’ve all seen her (or their) (or his?!) work. Now Anne tries to unravel the mystery.

Two weeks ago, Staples senior Lillie Bukzin learned that Oprah Winfrey was organizing a Facebook Live graduation event — and was looking for videos.

Lillie and her friends Sofie Abrams, Meher Bhullar, Reilly Caldwell, Kate Enquist and Cassie Lang went to work. They wrote a mini-script, and Lillie recorded them all saying “Hi! We are from the class of 2020 from Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut and this how we graduate.” They also threw their Staples baseball caps in the air.

On Thursday, they learned they’d be part of Oprah’s event — which aired yesterday. Click below to see their 15 seconds of fame! (Okay, it’s more like 1.5 seconds. But the video is very cool!

PS: In other Staples/national graduation/famous people news, tonight (8 p.m., multiple platforms) is when former president Barack Obama gives a speech to the Class of 2020. It’s the direct result of a social media campaign spearheaded by Lincoln Debenham, who grew up here and spent 2 years at Staples before his family moved to Los Angeles.

The Class of 2020 may graduate virtually, but together they rock!

The Westport Garden Club had to postpone their annual flower sale. But the 96-year-old organization is growing new roots, with their “Friday Flowers” project. All around town, they’re brightening our days. Here’s one example — at the gateway to our newly opened beach.

(Photo/Ellen Greenberg)

Here’s another interesting shot. David Squires calls this “our new (ab)normal.” Personally, he says, “I prefer the fuzzy dice.”

In month 3 of COVID, you’ve gone through nearly every Netflix, Showtime and Disney title available.

But you may have missed “Batsh*t Bride.” Filmed locally — including Christ & Holy Trinity church, Longshore and Pearl restaurant — the comedy stars Meghan Falcone as a bride who pranks her fiance by saying they should break up. Unfortunately, he feels the same way. Everything spirals out of control from there.

It’s available just about any way you can watch: Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Xbox, FangangoNOW, Hoopla, Sony Playstation Video Application and console, AT&T, DirectTV, Dish, iN DEMAND (Comcast, Spectrum) and Vubiquity (Verison Fios). Enjoy the trailer below; then click here for the direct links.

There’s not a lot to laugh about these days. But people walking past Saugatuck Congregational Church have to smile when they see the signs below.

Too young to know the reference? Google John Cleese and Monty Python.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

And finally … the beach parking lot reopening was timed perfectly with the arrival of actual spring weather. Well done, Westport!

COVID Roundup: “Artists In Residences”; Alice In Wonderland; Class Of 2020 Signs; More

Among the many features of the transformed Westport Library, there was this: continuing exhibitions of local artists, in the Sheffer Gallery and other prominent spots.

The library is closed. But thanks to exhibits director Carole Erger-Fass, artist/ designer/jack-of-all-trades Miggs Burroughs, and modern technology, they’re getting even more exposure now than they would have had hanging on the walls.

“Artists in Residences” is the library’s cleverly named, wonderfully executed project. Miggs and Carole conducted 30-minute Zoom visits with Artists Collective of Westport members.

Part interview, part studio tour and part demonstrations of their techniques, each episode is as different as the artists themselves.

So far, 6 of these rare, intimate looks at artists in their “native habitats” have been completed. They feature Nina Bentley, Susan Fehlinger, Emily Laux, Joan Miller, Nancy Moore and MaryEllen Hendricks.

Click below for Nina’s; click here for all, via the YouTube channel.

Staples High School’s Class of 2020 will make history in at least 2 ways.

They’re the first to have senior year disrupted by a coronavirus pandemic. And they’re the first to have free lawn signs distributed to every graduate.

Signs are being picked up this week by all 437 seniors. You may already have seen some around town.

Plans are underway for many more activities for this year’s hard-luck, but resilient and wonderful, class. Hindsight is always “20/20” — but with a bit of foresight, this year’s Class of graduation will be both memorable and great.

Speaking of Staples: The “Seussical” show did not go on this spring. But another great one is on tap — er, on radio — this Thursday.

At 6 p.m. (May 14), Players director David Roth’s Theatre 3 class will broadcast their annual radio play. It’s “Alice in Wonderland.” And if it’s anything like past productions, it will earn a first-place national Drury High School Radio Award. (Staples has won every year since their inception in 2011.)

Entire families will enjoy this production. It uses the same 1952 script that was broadcast nationally, coinciding with Walt Disney’s release of his animated feature. And it features several stars from last fall’s “Mamma Mia!” mainstage.

The class has rehearsed 3 times a week since the school shut down. On Thursday you can hear them live: 90.3 FM, or streamed here.

Speaking of education: Westport Continuing Education has launched Online Learning classes and workshops for adults, teens and kids. Virtual “after school” programs include sports, babysitting, arts, film, horticulture, theater and more. Those for adults include business, cooking, gardening and personal finance. Click here for details.

They were all there at last night’s “Rise Up New York!” telethon: Tina Fey. Andrew Cuomo. Barbara Streisand. Ben Platt. Bette Midler. Jennifer Lopez. Bill de Blasio. Chris Rock. Danny Meyer. Eli Manning. Idina Menzel. Jake

Gyllenhaal. Jimmy Fallon. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Robert De Niro. Salt-N-Pepa. Spike Lee. Julianne Moore. Trevor Noah. Bon Jovi. Billy Joel. Mariah Carey.  Sting.

And Gold’s.

Momofuku’s David Chang said, “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of New York’s restaurant industry. It’s also impossible to overstate the crisis it’s currently facing.”

And then — first, among a number of dining spots — Westport’s popular deli appeared on screens, all around the nation. Chip Stephens captured the moment on camera:

And finally … listen to Peter Gabriel!

COVID-19 Roundup: Staples Class of 2020; Sherwood Island; Dr. Scott Gottlieb; Ron’s Barber Shop; More

It’s increasingly unlikely that Staples High School seniors will have a traditional graduation. That includes everything from caps and gowns, to coming together as a class in the final weeks, reveling in each other’s achievements.

To stay connected and celebrate, a group of seniors created an Instagram account (@shsgrads2020). Everyone in the Class of 2020 is invited to direct message a baby picture, and post-graduate plans.

The admins will create a post, with information about what’s ahead and congratulations on their decision.

Seniors can also send any major achievements from this year — awards, accomplishments, whatever.

COVID-19 has taken away many things. But it can’t stop the spirit of Staples’ soon-to-be graduates!

Sherwood Island was busy yesterday — so busy that rangers turned people away. It was reopened later in the afternoon.

Most people practiced social distancing. Two state parks — Kent Falls and Seaside in Waterford — have already been closed, because of overuse and lack of social distancing.

This morning, Amy Schneider spotted members of the National Guard based in Connecticut, and representatives of the estate Department of Public Health, handing out essential equipment to nursing homes and emergency workers:

Meanwhile, the Compo Beach area was busy yesterday, with runners, walkers and joggers along South Compo, Hillspoint and Soundview. The sand itself wsa empty. Many people — though not all — practiced social distancing.

Over in Fairfield, Sasco Creek Beach closed weeks ago. However, a number of people yesterday broke the yellow caution tape, and parked there. Police cleared them out.

Compo Beach, earlier this spring. (Photo/Sarah Menninger)

Several times in the past few weeks, Westporter/former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has appeared on Sunday morning talk shows.

Yesterday — newly appointed to President Trump’s Opening Our Country Council — he and publishing executive/former presidential candidate Steve Forbes appeared on the Ben Shapiro Show.

The hour-long “Sunday Special” format allowed Gottlieb to speak in depth about consequences of the lockdown, the risk of returning to work, the effectiveness of testing and contact tracing, how asymptomatic carriers affect others, and more.

Click below to view:

Ron Provenzano is the lively, talkative and very popular owner of a Westport barber shop, in the space previously occupied by Sally’s Place.

He’s the father of 6 — including newborn twins — and great friend to many. His shop is closed by the pandemic. He was unable to get a small business loan before that program’s funds ran out.

Currently, he’s $18,000 behind in rent. A GoFundMe page has been started to help Ron. Click here to donate.

Kim Penwell spotted this on the I-95 overpass, at the Sherwood Island Connector:

You’re never too old for Kermit.

He knows the importance of staying healthy. Rachel Halperin keeps him at home, reminding her constantly to be safe and stay positive.

And finally … back in 1967, Jim Morrison predicted the future:

BONUS WESTPORT CONNECTION: The back cover of the Doors’ “Strange Days” — released just 4 days after they played at Staples High School — featured model Zazel Wilde. She grew up across the street from me here, and had graduated from Staples a few years before. She’s on the left below, obviously.