Tag Archives: Staples High School Class of 2022

Roundup: Remarkable Staples Video, WTF Food Rescue, WFM Young Shoots …

The Staples High School Class of 2022 is now part of history.

But tonight they live on — on the big screen.

The Remarkable Theatre screens a 60-minute film — created by the theater’s Staples interns — highlighting the graduating class.

There are interviews with nearly 2 dozen seniors, plus footage contributed by other students. It was produced over the past 2 weeks, so it is definitely timely.

Gates open at 8 p.m. tonight, for tailgating. The film begins at 8:45. Tickets are $20 per person or $50 per car, whichever is cheaper — with no limit on the number of passengers. Click here to purchase, and for more details.

Eamon Brannigan is one of the stars of the Class of 2022 Senior Night film.


If you’re a good gardener, you grow your own food.

If you’re a very good (and lucky!) gardener, you’ve got way more than  you need.

But there’s only so much lettuce, peas and zucchini you can give to your friends.

So chew on this: Wakeman Town Farm has partnered with Westport Grow-a-Row and Food Rescue US-Fairfield County on a new produce donation drop off site.

Bring your abundance to WTF’s farm stand any Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; coolers are set up there. Your fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs will help people struggling with food insecurity, throughout Fairfield County.

Questions? Email Haley@foodrescue.us. Follow @grow.a.row_westport on Instagram for updates.

The drop-off spot is hard to miss.


And speaking of gardens:

Westport Farmers’ Market‘s 6th annual Young Shoots Photography Contest. Snap!

There are 3 age categories: 5-9 years old, 10-14 and 15-18. Any photo taken at one of the Thursday Farmers’ Markets is eligible. Judging is by a panel of local artists, and the public.

The contest runs from a week from this tomorrow (June 23) through July 31. Winners — who earn a $100 cash, WFM swag and a gift card for a MoCA Westport class — will be celebrated at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, with catering by Sugar & Olives.

Ann Burmeister — Farmers’ Market board member and Who Grows Your Food photographer — will help youngsters as they take shots at the Market tomorrow. A WFM team member will be on hand throughout the contest to answer questions.

Click here to submit photos, and for more information.

“Starstem” by Calista Finkelstein was a previous “Young Shoots” winner in the 8-10 category.


Yesterday’s obituary of longtime Westport volunteer Tom Hofstetter included incorrect information about a memorial service at Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club. The family will hold a private burial only; there is no service.



On June 30, nearly everyone in Westport will watch the July 4th fireworks. (I know, I know …)

But if pyrotechnics aren’t your thing, you’ve got an artistic option.

The opening reception for MoCA’s new exhibition — “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” — is set for that night (6 to 8 p.m.; free).

The show explores how “female artists, utilizing textiles as their medium, subvert the social expectation of crafting by lambasting this soft medium with political and social awareness.”

It focuses on flags, as a symbol of solidarity for women of the suffrage movement, and an emblem of protest. Flags in “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” were assembled using mixed media and the fiber arts to ignite positive social change.

So — with those flags — there is a connection to Independence Day after all.

The exhibition runs through September 4. Click here for more information.

The MoCA exhibition logo is based on the original colors of the suffragist movement.


Another opening, another show:

Amy Simon Fine Art (123 Main Street), hosts an opening reception this Saturday (June 25, 3 to 5 p.m.) for the new “Visual Alchemy” show. Artists include Barry Katz, David Skillicorn and Louise P. Sloane.

Untitled #11– encaustic over plaster. (Barry Katz)


It’s not true that Benjamin Franklin wanted a wild turkey — not an eagle — to be America’s national symbol.

The actual story: In a letter to his daughter, he criticized the original eagle design for the Great Seal, saying it looked like a turkey.

Well, after a long period away, wild turkeys have returned to Westport. The other day, Carol Cederbaum saw 3 of them roosting on her back deck. She got this shot a female, before they spotted her behind the window.

Is it a handsome “Westport … Naturally” subject, or not? You be the judge.

(Photo/Carol Cederbaum)


And finally … in the past week we’ve given shout-outs to Staples grads, and Brian Wilson. Here’s one more — together — as the Class of 2022 gets ready for their “Senior Night” at the Remarkable Theater (story above):

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ConGRADulations, Staples Class Of ’22!

Every graduation is special.

This was Staples High School’s first with 3 valedictorians. Natalie Bandura, Zach Bishop and Julian Weng all had the same GPA — down to one-hundredths of a point.

This was the second straight outdoors — but the first since the football field was named in honor of former coach Paul Lane.

In many ways though, graduation is timeless. Staples’ 135th commencement exercises included all the traditions: “Pomp and Circumstance,” evocative choral music (“The Road Home”), the awarding of diplomas and (of course) the turning of the tassel.

The Class of 2022 is part of history. They join 134 others, in a chain of high achievement and great honor. They move on to the next stages of their lives: college, jobs, making their marks on the world.

But in the words of principal Stafford Thomas: “This will always be your home.”

Posing for photos, before the ceremony.

Standing out in a crowd.

Assistant principals James Farnen and Penny Proskinitopoulos march in.

Soon-to-be graduates (from left): Jack Murphy, Matthew Genser, Jack Foster.

Proudly showing off the next stage in life.

A scoreboard salute to the Class of 2022.

Mazel tov!

Tri-valedictorian Zach Bishop did not give a traditional speech. Instead he played a farewell song on his viola.

Presenting diplomas (from left): superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice, Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein, and principal Stafford Thomas.

Every graduate was photographed, with his or her diploma.

Newly minted grad.

(All photos/Dan Woog)

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To The Staples High School Class Of 2022 …

Today is graduation, for the Staples High School Class of 2022.

It’s a day of pomp and circumstance. The ceremony takes place outdoors, at Paul Lane Field — a welcome change from too many years in the stifling, cavernous, hard-to-hear fieldhouse.

Three valedictorians — they earned the same GPA, down to hundredths of a point — will share the stage. Two will address them; one will play the violin. That’s as it should be: It’s the students’ day. 

But this is my blog. So I’ll take today to deliver my own graduation address. If I had the mic, I’d say:

You did it.

I have no idea how, but you did it.

I went to Staples too, back in the last century. I know that if I faced what you faced, I could not have done what you did. And my friends and classmates — many of whom still look back very fondly on our days here — could not have done it either.

We could not have coped with COVID the way you did.

One day, you were in school, living normal teenage lives. The next day you were home, isolated by a virus that ricocheted around the world.

School became a screen. Sports, drama, music, your social lives — all screeched to a halt. You were isolated at home, with parents who were terrified and teachers who struggled to find the “unmute” button.

What did you do?

You delivered meals (at a safe distance) to elderly neighbors. You sewed masks, created informational websites, and painted inspirational slogans on rocks. Every day, patiently, you reminded your teachers where the “unmute” button was.

You returned to school in the fall as juniors, but things were far from normal. You followed hybrid schedules and one-way arrows. In the cafeteria, Plexiglas shielded you from your friends. Your sports seasons were a shell of what you’d expected. Your Candlelight Concert was online.

Senior year has been better. You’re back in the classroom, on the fields and on stage. Plexiglas is gone; masks are optional.

But you have been forever changed by COVID. You have learned that the world is a dangerous place; that close human contact can be deadly; that the science you’ve learned since elementary school means nothing to some people.

The Depression left its mark on everyone who grew up then. Long after, living comfortable lives, adults ate everything on their plates; they still worried about their next meal. They switched off lights when they left rooms, to “save the electricity.”

I don’t know what the residual effects of the coronavirus will be on you. Yet it’s marked your lives in a way unimaginable when you entered Staples as freshmen.

But cast COVID aside. I know that when I was a teenager, I could not have dealt with all the pressures you face, with as much grace as you do.

It was hard enough being a teenager before Instagram offered instant, idealized versions of everyone else’s life; before a barrage of notifications demanded constant attention, responses and concern; before every photo was scrutinized, every text examined for clues to where one stands on the social ladder.

At all hours of the day. And night.

I know I could not have dealt with the academic pressures of a school like Staples. It was high-achieving then; now it’s exponentially tougher. We knew our grades four times a year: at the end of each quarter. Our parents knew only if we showed them our report cards.

As for college, it was a part of our thinking — but only a part. It did not consume our lives (and our parents’ lives) from middle school on. We visited a few (maybe); we applied; we got accepted; we went. And we did not worry about being in debt for the rest of our lives.

For many of you, this year’s college process was brutal. It’s tough to get into any school these days; it’s tougher still when there is so much focus on “the right” one.

I hate it when commencement speakers give advice, but WTF — I’ll do it anyway. Trust me: Wherever you go, you will do fine. Your Staples education has given you a huge advantage; so has growing up in this town (despite its many faults). You are smart, creative, persistent. You are well-prepared. You will rock whatever school you attend.

So stop worrying about college decals on the car, or what you think others think. Take courses that interest you, make interesting friends, then rock the next steps in your life.

You are a wonderful class, filled with talented, accomplished, energetic, caring and compassionate young men and women. You have given of yourselves in so many ways.

You have been Best Buddies and SLOBs (that’s a good thing). You have coached youth sports teams, taught religious school, and shown elementary and middle school kids that they should be proud of whoever they are.

And you’ve done it all — well, most of the time — quietly, with generosity and smiles.

I have spent much of this speech telling you that back in the day, I could not have done what you did, in your time at Staples.

This school served me well. I am proud of many things I have done.

I am not proud, however, of the world my generation is leaving to you. It’s a mess. We’ve broken many things: our climate. Our political system. Our faith in each other.

When I was at Staples, my friends and I were sure we would change the world.

We did. Just not in the way we planned.

So, Class of 2022: Congratulations on an astonishing 4 years. You have made your school, and our community, very proud. Thank you for navigating a very difficult time, in your own very special way. It’s not something I — and very few of your parents or grandparents — could have done.

The universe is yours. Go rock it.

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Roundup: Lacrosse, Blood Drive, Dog Licenses …

Tyler Clark’s dramatic goal 3:45 into overtime gave Staples’ boys lacrosse team a 9-8 victory over Ridgefield in last night’s state tournament semifinal.

The victory vaults the Wreckers — ranked #2 in the state L (large schools) division — into the final. They’ll face perennial powerhouse Darien, ranked 1st and 16-9 victors over Fairfield Prep in the other semi.

Coach Will Koshansky’s Staples squad is shooting for their first-ever state crown. The game is set for 3 p.m. this Sunday (June 12), at Sacred Heart University.

Tyler Clark’s winning goal for Staples, in yesterday’s state tournament semifinal. (Photo/Chris Greer, courtesy of The Ruden Report).


The next Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399 Red Cross Blood Drive is Tuesday (June 14, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). It’s sponsored by the Charley With A Y Foundation, in memory of Marine lance corporal Charles M. Rochlin USMC.

Click here for an appointment, or call 800-733-2767, Use this sponsor code: VFWWestport.

LCPL Charley Rochlin


Allison Russell is the latest performer signed to the Levitt Pavilion’s “Stars on Tours” series.

The Grammy-nominate artist/activist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/founding member of Our Native Daughters and Birds of Chicago Allison Russell will appear on Sunday, August 21.

Allison made history at the 2022 Juno Awards as the first Black artist to win for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year.

The record was named the #2 Best Album of the Year by the New York Times after its release in 2021, and Allison’s song “Nightflyer” made Barack Obama’s annual list of favorites.

The member pre-sale is live now. The public sale begins tomorrow (June 10) at noon.

Allison Russell


Congratulations to Music Theatre of Connecticut.

They’ve been nominated for 11 Connecticut Critics Circle awards. Four are for the musical “Falsettoland” — and 2 have a Westport connection. The father-son team of Dan and Ari Sklar are up for “Outstanding actor, musical” and “Outstanding debut.” Both live here.

Though based in Norwalk, MTC has strong Westport roots. Broadway actors Mia Gentile and Jacob Heimer, plus noted songwriter Justin Paul, all performed there often.

Dan Sklar


Speaking of theater: Summer is almost here. Which means the Westport Country Playhouse annual gala is not far away.

The event returns live — after a 2-year COVID hiatus — on September 17. The guest artist is Renée Elise Goldsberry: the original Tony Award-winning Angelica Schuyler from “Hamilton.” She’ll perform a high energy concert of Broadway, pop and soul.

Ticket details will be announced soon. t’s sure to sell out quickly.

Renee Elise Goldsberry


June is dog license month.

Licenses good from July 1 to June 30, 2023, may be obtained online from the Town Clerk’s department, starting now. All dogs over 6 months old must be licensed.

Click here to license your dog online (desktop only; no mobile devices allowed). Have your spay/neuter and rabies certificates available to upload as a PDF. If these are not available, contact your veterinary office to obtain digital copies.

Paper applications accompanied by a check payment are also accepted. Mail or the drop box at the rear of Town Hall are preferred methods of delivery. Dog licenses can be processed in the Town Clerk’s offfice for those who need in person assistance.

Mail the application, payment, and required certificates (all certificates will be returned with license), and a self-addressed stamped return envelope to: Westport Town Clerk, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06881. Click here to download the application. Visit Westportct.gov/dogs for all information related to dog licenses in Westport.

For more information, call 203-341-1110 or visit Westportct.gov/dogs.

“Before we play: Send in my license, please!” (Photo/Amy Schneider)


“Senior Night” at the Remarkable Theater has been moved to has been moved to June 22 (8 p.m.). It’s a special showing of a 70-minute video, highlighting the Class of 2022’s unique 4 years at Staples High School.

Click here for tickets.


Speaking of animals: The Gorham Island swan has not abandoned her nest. She was spotted sitting pretty yesterday morning, enjoying the sunshine and her motherly duties.

(Photo/Mary Stewart)


Today there are 2 of these “Westport … Naturally” rabbits.

Tomorrow there will be many more. Naturally.

(Photo/Mark Mathias)


And finally … did you know that the inspiration for songwriter Paul Vance’s classic “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” came from his 2-year-old daughter?

Neither did I, until I read his obituary. He died May 30 in Florida, at 92.

I also did not know that singer Brian Hyland — who recorded the #1 song — was just 16 at the time. Go figure

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