Tag Archives: Staples High School graduation

Roundup: Cavalry Road Bridge, Staples Graduation, Sharkey’s Cuts …

Residents in the Red Coat Road/West Branch neighborhood, straddling the Westport/Weston border, were thrilled earlier this month when the Cavalry Road bridge reopened.

For a year during the project, they’d faced long detours, constant traffic pattern changes, even property damage. They seldom complained.

But now they’re mad.

Suddenly, a large chain link fence has been installed on both sides of the new bridge. Residents call it an eyesore — and not part of the original plan. They wonder how safety measures more appropriate for a state road became part of their bucolic landscape.

Guardrail and fencing on the Cavalry Road bridge.

Resident Gery Grove — who says it is a Weston project — wrote to officials of both towns:

“This is a low speed bridge (now with extensive guardrails in place) with probably a limited to nonexistent history of injury or death. This is a pastoral residential neighborhood that people move to for quiet charms.

“Behind our backs at the dawn of a holiday weekend, it has been made to look like a downtown Manhattan parking lot with no warning. And likely no historical public record of this addition. No other small bridges that I am aware of (that don’t go over the Merritt or I95) have this extensive fencing.”

Westport 1st selectwoman replied quickly, promising to meet with residents there on Monday morning.

Weston town administrator Jnoathan Luiz said that he asked the engineering company that designed the bridge and provided construction oversight to respond.

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For the second year in a row — after a hiatus of nearly 40 years — Staples High School held its graduation ceremony outdoors.

“06880” provided photos of the 135th commencement. But those were only from ground level.

Staples sophomore Charlie Scott adds a new perspective, thanks to his drone:

(Drone photo/Charlie Scott)

The stage is at the north end (bottom of photo). Board of Education and other dignitaries are at the lower left. The 450-plus graduates are massed on Coach Paul Lane Field. The 2,000 spectators fill the bleachers on the right.

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Scalp dramatically reduces chemotherapy-induced hair loss in cancer patients.

But it’s expensive.

Scott Sharkey — founder of Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids, the Westport-based haircut chain – has jump-started a fund to support patients throughout New England who cannot afford the treatment.

Each Sharkey’s salon donates a percent of every haircut to charity. “Hair to Stay” will be one more beneficiary of the company’s generosity.

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Jillian Elder has a new line of Westport-themed tank tops, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and tumblers.

Some are actually more specific: They say “I’d rather be in Saugatuck” and “I’d rather be at Compo Beach.” There are also red-white-and-blue Minute Man items.

Click here for “I’d Rather Be …”; click here for the Minute Man stuff.

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Artists Collective of Westport member Lee Walther curated a new exhibit, “Sculptural Dimensions,” at the Fairfield Public Library. It features Collective artists Sooo-z Mastropietro and Louise Cadoux, plus international artist Alan Neider.

The show runs through August 6. Click here for more infromation.

Art by Sooo-z Mastropietro.

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Marie Coppotelli — one of Westport’s first girls “soccer moms” — died peacefully on June 9. She was 92 years old.  .

Stuart McCarthy — a founder of Westport’s girls soccer program, and former Staples High School coach — says:

When we started the first girls travel team in 1977, Marie took charge. She did all the great organization and coordination that comes with the job (but she had no 3-ring binder left behind by the last manager). I will always remember how she was such a sweet lady — until someone fouled one of ‘her girls.’ Marie was fiercely protective, and they were all ‘her girls.’ We were all lucky to have Marie on our team.

Marie was preceded in death by her husband Donald Coppotelli and brother Anthony Cuda. She is survived by her sister Patricia Nole, sister-in-law Lynn Cuda; children Michele (Pat) Solis, Lisa Coppotelli, Alan (Nancey) Coppotelli, Renee (Mark) Dixon, and Claudine (Lee) Martin; grandchildren Emma and Reed Tso, Oliver and Madeline Dixon, Devon Mayhew, Dylan and Eileen
Martin, Ghislain and Mary Melaine, Jeff and Jessica Doerner, and great-grandchildren Molly and Benjamin Doerner and Georges Melaine.

Services will be held privately at a future date. In lieu of flowers,
everyone who knew Marie knows she loves to feed people. Donations may be made online to Connecticut Foodshare, Memories and condolences may be sent to the family: ACoppotelliNY@aol.com,

The Coppotellis, at Marie and Don’s 50th wedding celebration. From left: Renee, Claudine, Donald, Marie, Michele, Lisa, Alan.

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This “Westport … Naturally” wren seems right at home in Paul Delano’s birdhouse.

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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And finally … sure, Jillian Elder’s gear and mugs say “I’d rather be in Saugatuck” (or “at Compo Beach”).

But as the Turtles knew years ago:

Staples Graduation: See It Now!

Missed Staples High School’s 132nd commencement exercises on Tuesday?

Or just missed that moment when your favorite graduate got his or her 15-seconds-of-fame diploma?

No problem!

Retired video production teacher Jim Honeycutt was in the fieldhouse, filming the entire ceremony.

It was a model of efficiency: just 1 hour and 45 minutes for faculty and students to walk in, a couple of choir numbers, a few quick speeches, 475 graduates to march across the stage, cap-tossing, and exit.

Still, even though it’s all here, you don’t have to watch every second.

Click below for Jim’s video. Including the fast-forward button.

ConGRADulations, Staples Class Of 2019!

Staples High School’s 132nd graduation ceremony took place this afternoon, in the fieldhouse.

475 seniors received diplomas.

They head to 163 different colleges, from Fairfield to Shanghai. A few will take gap years, join the military, or enter the workforce.

Those are the numbers. Here are the faces. Well done, Wreckers!

Anisa Prasad (left) is the salutatorian. Her sister Sirina Prasad is the valedictorian. Both will attend Harvard University.

Music teacher Nick Mariconda (left) retires this year, after a 41-year career with the Westport schools. He carried the mace as the longest continually serving Staples faculty member. James D’Amico leaves after 3 years as principal, and 18 in the school district. He’ll become the next principal of New Fairfield High.

Thumb’s up, for sure!

Maria Maisonet receives her diploma from interim superintendent of schools Dr. David Abbey. Board of Education chair Mark Mathias looks on.

Class speaker Victoria Cao offers words of advice.

Students decorate mortarboards in a variety of ways …

… and then, on a signal from Declan Byrne and Elle Fair, toss them joyfully in the air.

Then it’s on to photo ops …

… celebratory cigars …

… and graduation parties. This one honors A Better Chance of Westport scholars Darby Aurelien and David Li.

Every year, people ask why Staples graduation is not outdoors. Here’s why. (All photos/Dan Woog)

Staples’ 129th Graduation Is Nothing Like Its 50th. Or 1st.

Tomorrow afternoon, 483 Staples seniors graduate. For them, the high school’s 129th commencement ceremony is a time to look ahead.

The other day, Mary Schmerker looked back. She thought about her own graduation, in 1958. That was the first one held in the auditorium of the brand new North Avenue campus.

But Mary was thinking much further back. She found a graduation program from 1937. Her mother, Ramona Otis, was in that class — and her grandmother, Mrs. Arthur Otis, was the musical accompanist.

That long-ago event — when President Roosevelt was just beginning his 2nd term, the Golden Gate Bridge opened and the Hindenburg crashed — took place at Bedford Junior High School (now Kings Highway Elementary). Staples (the current Saugatuck El) had no auditorium of its own.

SHS 50th grad - cover

The graduating class of 88 students was divided into 3 groups: college course, general course and commercial course.

There were just 14 teachers. Among them: Staples legends Eli Berton, Gladys Mansir,  Rhoda Merritt (later Rhoda Harvey), Walter Stevenson and Roland Wachob.

The graduation ceremony included several awards. The PTA gave one for highest 4-year average in English. The honoree (not listed) received $5.

The printed program was highlighted by a letter from Connecticut governor Wilbur Cross. It was more than a formality.

Governor Cross wrote:

I shall never forget the pleasant year I spent in Westport as the second principal of Staples High School. It was the academic year 1885-86. During that time I was very closely associated with Mr. Horace Staples who was then 85 years old.

Cross was not just the 22-year-old principal. He also taught Latin, Greek, English literature and geometry. One student memorized the entire first book of “Paradise Lost.”

“I still have a warm heart for the Staples High School,” Governor Cross concluded.

Governor Wilbur Cross' letter in the commencement program -- with a photo of Staples High School.

Governor Wilbur Cross’ letter in the commencement program — with a photo of Staples High School.

Cross did not preside over a graduation ceremony. That was still a year away. The school had opened a year earlier, so the 1st 4-year graduates did not receive diplomas until 1887.

There were only 6.

So — as Staples prepares for its 129th commencement ceremony — let’s give a shout-out to its 1st-ever class of graduates: Nellie Elwood, Florence Fyfe, Hope Lewis, Bessie Marvin, Lena Morehouse and Josephine West.

Yes, that 1st graduating class was all girls. The boys had left school, to work on Westport’s farms.

A mere 33 years later, those 6 graduates won the right to vote.

Ten years after that, they might have voted for their former principal, in his race for governor of Connecticut.