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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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