Staples High School’s senior class has endured a year unlike any in the school’s 136-year history.
But the Class of 2021 faced down challenges and adversity — everything from remote learning and quarantines to shortened sports seasons, canceled plays and concerts, and Plexiglas barriers in the cafeteria — with maturity, resilience and grace.
Yesterday evening, they got their reward. Under a bright sky, in perfect temperatures, they graduated.
All together, as one.
Seniors file onto the stadium field, past a memorial bench dedicated to Tamari Rivera. Their classmate — a beloved member of the basketball team — died in January.
They continue on to their seats of honor, in front of the stage.
In the first outdoor ceremony since 1994 — not counting last year’s drive-thru affair — they were honored by family and staff.
Assistant principal James Farnen leads staff members into the ceremony.
The crowd was smaller than usual; COVID limited the number of tickets. But unlike years past in the fieldhouse, everyone could see.
Bleachers are decorated with signs from departments, clubs and teams, honoring the graduates.
And hear. Principal Stafford Thomas hailed the newest graduates as “respectful, optimistic and bold.”
Principal Stafford Thomas delivers warm, upbeat remarks.
Salutatorian Hannah Even talked about black holes (a metaphor for the past year?). Valedictorian Konur Nordberg gave shout-outs to many classmates, and — alluding to the silver lining of the past year — quoted a 17th-century samurai: “My barn burned down, but now I can see the moon.”
The 469 graduates’ names were called. Proudly, they walked onto the stage and acknowledged the cheers.
James Jennings receives his diploma. From left, assistant principal Pat Micinilio, Board of Education chair Candice Savin and principal Stafford Thomas do the honors. James later joined Marley Lopez-Paul, leading the class in the traditional turning of the tassel.
It was a warm, wonderful ceremony. Quickly and efficiently, it was over. Just as quickly, the Class of ’21 became part of history.
For once, that’s not a cliché.
Benny Zack solos with the Choralaires and senior choral members on “The Road Home.”
Senior soccer players march in together.
Some graduates decorate their mortarboards …
… while others have a snack and water.
The Staples High School Class of 2021: winners in every book. (Photos/Dan Woog)
Her book Lifelines, and digital support community of the same name, has raised awareness even further.
Now, throughout May — which is Mental Health Awareness Month — LifeLines is hosting free activities and workshops. There’s a different one each day.
The goal is to help people “dive inward and discover their true selves,” LifeLines says. They range from “Breaking Up With Your Inner Circle” to “Tracing Your Triggers.” Click here for the full schedule.
Plans have been announced for Staples High School’s graduation. It will be … outdoors.
“Pomp and Circumstance” will ring out at the football stadium, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 17 (rain date: June 18). All seniors will be together, and will be allotted 2 guests each. The ceremony will be livestreamed, for family and friends who cannot attend.
This is the first time the football stadium has been used for graduation in 27 years. The previous 26 events were held in the fieldhouse. Last year’s graduation was a “drive-by,” with each graduate having a special moment in front of the school.
Staples High School graduates gather outside the fieldhouse in 2018, before the ceremony. This year they’ll march instead to the right, onto the football field.
The Westport Domestic Violence Task Force just completed a very successful collection for baby items, for 2 area safe houses and local clients.
Westporters donated 4 strollers, 7 car seats, 3 booster seats, multiple car seat bases, 5 cases of formula, over a dozen cases of diapers, countless packages of wipes, baby washes, new baby clothing, 18 bottles, and over $500 in cash.
The Task Force thanks the entire community, and the men and women of the Westport Police Department, who helped collect and transport the donations.
Talent from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight kicks off Friday, May 14 (7 p.m.), with pianist/composer Isaiah J. Thompson. The young artist leads his jazz quartet in what MoCA promises will be a “powerful, mind-blowing performance.”
On May 28, The Alexa Tarantino Quartet debuts music from their new album “Firefly.” Their performance last summer sold out.
A third Lincoln Center artist will perform later this summer, followed by the Samara Joy Ensemble on August 20.
Tickets are available in a variety of formats, including individual concert tickets, a 4-concert Jazz Package, or a Season Pass with all 13 Music at MoCA concerts. Click here to purchase, and for more information.
As Westport opens up, the May issue of Westport Magazine examines “the good life.”
Stories include personal reflections on Christopher Plummer; Dave Briggs on Lou Gehrig Day; Center Stage producer Andrew Wilk; super-organizer Meredith Triscott; home design shops; creating the perfect patio, and the advantages of private aviation.
Westport Magazine is available at Barnes & Noble, Balducci’s, Whole Foods and CVS.
It’s spring, which means you’ve been thinking about raising chickens.
Or maybe you already have a flock, but want to learn more about organic nutrition or chicken swings.
Cluck — I mean, click — on a link next Monday (April 12, 7 p.m.).
Bruce Benedict (Benedict’s Home and Garden) and Mackenzie Chauncey (Kent Nutrition Group) will tell you (virtually) everything you want to know about starting and raising your own backyard flock.
Bruce will walk you through the best coops, breeds and feeders to keep your birds happy and healthy. Mackenzie will guide you through feeding, from baby chicks to laying hens, and all their nutritional needs along the way. You’ll also see how see how WTF is raising their own chicks.
Click here to register. NOTE: Like raising chickens, this is a family affair — suitable for all ages.
In June, 19 Staples High School students will graduate with High Honors. That’s the top 4% of the graduating class.
Principal Stafford Thomas says, “the most astonishing aspect of this accomplishment is that these students were involved in a number of extracurricular activities and various aspects of school life, which took a great deal of time, focus and concentration outside of the classroom as well. We were lucky to have had them for 4 years. We will no doubt be hearing about their next great achievements in the years to come.”
High Honors students are listed below, under the photos.
From left: Assistant principal Patrick Micinilio, Gary Lu, Principal Stafford Thomas, Carolyn Everett, Emma Dantas, Claire Redmer, Claire Lee, Sophia Lauterbach, Hanna Even, Simon Rubin
From left to right: Samantha Webster, Nasir Wynruit, Andrea Bautista, Henry Portman, Charlotte Zhang, Rishabh Mandayam, Teagan Smith, Alexander Toglia, Elana Atlas, Konur Nordberg.
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