Tag Archives: Staples High School guidance department

Roundup: Pre-Apprentice Program, Library Studios, More

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Staples High School students have many possibilities.

Here’s one most have not heard of: the Connecticut Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program.

The free state Department of Transportation project offers work-based opportunities through Staples’ guidance department — and after graduation.

Virtually, students learn about real-life trades: carpentry, electricity, ironworks, masonry and engineering.

Students will be placed in Westport Department of Public Works internships — with the possibility of paid employment later.

They earn OSHA 10-hour, flagger and CPR/First aid/AED certification. They’ll be eligible for resume review, interview preparation, and to receive employment opportunity notifications.

The program is aimed at seniors who want to enter the workforce after graduation, and juniors hoping to explore the workforce and/or an engineering trade after high school.

The program runs Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m., from March 3 to May 5.

“This is perfect for kids who don’t want to spend their work life behind a computer, or who are unsure about college,” says Staples counselor Victoria Capozzi. “It’s great too for potential civil engineers.”

For more information, email vcapozzi@westportps.org.

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Former State Senator Toni Boucher’s husband, Henry “Bud” Boucher, died on Sunday, suddenly and peacefully.

An Air Force veteran who worked as an energy, finance, insurance and healthcare management consultant, he was very involved in Wilton organizations like American Legion Post 86, Wilton Rotary and Knights of Columbus.

A socially distanced wake will be held this Saturday (January 30) from 9:30 to 11 a.m., with a limited seating service to follow at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wilton. The service will be livestreamed on YouTube and the church website.

For a full obituary, and to leave online condolences, click here(Hat tip: JC Martin)

Henry “Bud” Boucher

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Just a few months after its Transformation Project was complete, COVID forced  partial closure of many services.

But the recording spaces have been as active as ever.

Verso Studios — the new name for its media studios — was used recently by Ports of Spain. The cutting-edge New Haven band recorded, mixed and mastered a music video, “All You Can Carry.” It includes a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a professional recording studio. Click below to see.

Verso Studios offers training programs and virtual drop-in clinics on podcasting and video production. For more information, email dbibbey@westportlibrary.org.

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Westporter Dave Briggs continues to score great interviews with on Moffly Media magazine Instagram feed.

Tomorrow (Thursday, January 28, 2 p.m.) the former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor chats with ABC News chief White House correspondent and “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

Search @ncdmag for the livestream.

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Yesterday’s snowfall was just a dusting.

But it was enough for Doug Fierro to make a snowman in his backyard. It sits — literally — “on top of the world.”

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And finally … today is the 136th anniversary of the birth of Jerome Kern. He composed over 700 songs, for more than 100 stage works. Nearly a century later, many still endure.

 

Say Thank You. Please.

Right after graduation last year, I posted this story on “06880.” I’ve had requests to run it again — this time a bit earlier. Done!

It’s a big, important — and time-consuming — part of a Staples guidance counselor’s job: writing college recommendations.

With 45 to 55 seniors a year — and each one taking 30 minutes to 2 hours to compose, based on feedback from the student, teachers, coaches, music and drama directors, community members and others — that’s a lot of work.

Because their school days are full, counselors often write recommendations on their own time, at home.

However, writing college recs is not part of a Staples teacher’s (or coach’s, or other staff member’s)  job description.

Officially, that is.

But students often ask. And — because their job is helping teenagers succeed — those teachers often oblige.

On their own time.

The most popular teachers are asked to write dozens of recommendations (and other references — for scholarships, summer programs, etc.) — a year.

You’d think that students would show their thanks with a note — or at least a heartfelt email.

You’d also think that students would eagerly share their acceptances — and final college decisions — with the folks who played at least a tiny role in helping them get in.

Some do.

But nowhere near as many as you think.

Victoria Capozzi

Victoria Capozzi — a longtime Staples guidance counselor, who like her colleagues works hard to craft every recommendation to each student’s personality, accomplishments and goals — describes the ins and outs, ups and downs, rewards and disappointments of college rec writing.

“Kids may not realize, but adults are truly invested in them, throughout the entire process,” she said.

“The teenage brain doesn’t see it that way. They just see it as a checklist item on their college application.”

Once a student completes the application, Capozzi explained, “the teenage brain shuts down. It’s done.”

It’s important, she noted, for adults to remind students of the importance of “a gracious thank-you.” Email is “the minimum.” The best option is a handwritten note, delivered in person.

Those are “old school values,” Capozzi admitted. But they exist for a reason.

She showed an example of a great note. It meant so much, she stuck it on her file cabinet.

But a thank-you like that is rare. Capozzi had 48 seniors last year — young men and women she started with as freshmen. Only 8 wrote notes.

“I don’t need accolades,” Capozzi stressed. “I’m their counselor. I know where they’re going. But teachers pour their hearts and souls into their letters. It’s just common courtesy to let them know where you’ve decided to go.”

She added, “I don’t want to sound negative. These are great kids, and great families. I just want to stress the importance of this.”

Staples’ guidance department tries to educate students and parents about the value of this courtesy. It’s in the PowerPoint presentation made during junior and senior years. Counselors also mention it in face-to-face meetings — including the senior “exit interviews.”

“Don’t forget to thank your teachers!” they say.

Sadly, many do.

Say “Thank You.” Please.

It’s a big, important — and time-consuming — part of a Staples guidance counselor’s job: writing college recommendations.

With 45 to 55 seniors a year — and each one taking 30 minutes to 2 hours to compose, based on feedback from the student, teachers, coaches, music and drama directors, community members and others — that’s a lot of work.

Because their school days are full, counselors often write recommendations on their own time, at home.

However, writing college recs is not part of a Staples teacher’s (or coach’s, or other staff member’s)  job description.

Officially, that is.

But students often ask. And — because their job is helping teenagers succeed — those teachers often oblige.

On their own time.

The most popular teachers are asked to write dozens of recommendations (and other references — for scholarships, summer programs, etc.) — a year.

You’d think that students would show their thanks with a note — or at least a heartfelt email.

You’d also think that students would eagerly share their acceptances — and final college decisions — with the folks who played at least a tiny role in helping them get in.

Some do.

But nowhere near as many as you think.

Victoria Capozzi

Victoria Capozzi — a longtime Staples guidance counselor, who like her colleagues works hard to craft every recommendation to each student’s personality, accomplishments and goals — talked recently about the ins and outs, ups and downs, rewards and disappointments of college rec writing.

“Kids may not realize, but adults are truly invested in them, throughout the entire process,” she said.

“The teenage brain doesn’t see it that way. They just see it as a checklist item on their college application.”

Once a student completes the application, Capozzi explained, “the teenage brain shuts down. It’s done.”

It’s important, she noted, for adults to remind students of the importance of “a gracious thank-you.” Email is “the minimum.” The best option is a handwritten note, delivered in person.

Those are “old school values,” Capozzi admitted. But they exist for a reason.

She showed an example of a great note. It meant so much, she stuck it on her file cabinet.

But a thank-you like that is rare. Capozzi had 48 seniors this year — young men and women she started with as freshmen. Only 8 wrote notes.

“I don’t need accolades,” Capozzi stressed. “I’m their counselor. I know where they’re going. But teachers pour their hearts and souls into their letters. It’s just common courtesy to let them know where you’ve decided to go.”

She added, “I don’t want to sound negative. These are great kids, and great families. I just want to stress the importance of this.”

Staples’ guidance department tries to educate students and parents about the value of this courtesy. It’s in the PowerPoint presentation made during junior and senior years. Counselors also mention it in face-to-face meetings — including the senior “exit interviews.”

“Don’t forget to thank your teachers!” they say.

Sadly, many do.

Tweetless Turkey Day

Today’s teenagers don’t know life without Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. Not to mention Twitter, Yik Yak, Whatsgoodly, streaming videos from Netflix, and — not incidentally — using laptops, tablets and smartphones for schoolwork, in class and out. Staples High School’s BYOD (“bring your own device”) policy ensures that students are connected — to the internet, and each other — 24/7.

(That’s not an exaggeration. Some kids today sleep with their phones underneath their pillows, so they won’t miss any 3 a.m. notifications.)

Technology is wonderful. But it’s also awful. It causes stress. It fragments attention. Social media in particular raises unrealistic expectations. It prevents people from actually being present — connected personally, not wirelessly — with real friends and family members, in real time.

These are not Staples students. But they could be.

These are not Staples students. But they could be.

No one knows this more than Staples’ guidance counselors. They’re on the front lines, watching students battle with the demands of social media, along with the usual stresses of sky-high expectations in a very competitive community.

The guidance department’s Resilience Project is a way to help teenagers find balance, strength and direction. Counselors regularly share videos, stories and ideas with students, teachers and parents, offering strategies to ease anxiety.

This week, they’re doing more. The Resilience Project proposes a Thanksgiving technology break. For 24 hours — any 24 hours during the holiday — Staples students (and staff!) (parents too!) are urged to step away from all social media. Including (aaargh) texting.

(Graphic/Cameron Lynch, Carla Eichler's Beginnign Design and Tech class)

(Graphic/Cameron Lynch, Carla Eichler’s Beginnign Design and Tech class)

The technology break coincides with another Resilience Project initiative: Teachers are encouraged to not give homework over Thanksgiving weekend, and to delay long-term project due dates to later in the following week.

Without that obligation, and with family and friends nearby, the hope is that for 24 hours, Stapleites can engage — really, truly, not sporadically or half-heartedly — with other human beings.

The Resilience Project suggests that teachers and students discuss the technology break during Communication Time, a 15-minute period on Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

It’s a great idea. Give it a try.

And if you can’t go 24 hours without technology, at least don’t tweet during Thanksgiving dinner.

Hearing Stories, Healing Hearts: An Educator’s Astonishing Story

The moment Staples High School guidance counselors heard about Friday’s shootings in Newtown, they offered to help.

Two days later, the entire staff — including the school psychologist and social worker — took shifts at the crisis and counseling center, in John Reed Intermediate School. They worked with students, teachers, family members and first responders to process the horrific tragedy.

Deborah Slocum, interviewed on "Good Morning Staples" today. (Photo courtesy of Mike Zito)

Deborah Slocum, interviewed on “Good Morning Staples” today. (Photo courtesy of Mike Zito)

This morning, on the student TV show “Good Morning Staples,” junior Marla Friedson interviewed several staffers about their experiences. Long-time guidance counselor Deborah Slocum told an especially riveting tale.

She sat with a woman who taught kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary School for 15 years. This year, she transferred to a different building.

Five of the children killed on Friday were hers last year.

She felt a tremendous range of emotions, Deb said. There was “survivor guilt,” for not being at the school when the tragedy occurred. There was “deep sorrow” for the youngsters she had taught.

And she worried about her own 11-year-old children. They know how close their mother was to her students. And they themselves are close in age to the boys and girls who were killed.

The woman wore a bracelet. “#1 Teacher,” it said. It had been a gift from her kindergarteners — and they’d made it themselves.

The woman told Deb more stories. She’d just called a close friend — still teaching at Sandy Hook but now in a hospital, recovering from injuries. She’d stepped into the hallway, and been shot in the foot. She went right back into her classroom, locked the door, and told her students she’d “stepped in red paint.”

She added, “Everything will be okay. You just have to do what I tell you to.”

Hannah Foley and Marla Friedson, hosting today's "Good Morning Staples." (Photo courtesy of Mike Zito)

Hannah Foley (left) and Marla Friedson, hosting today’s edition of “Good Morning Staples.” (Photo courtesy of Mike Zito)

It was an emotionally wrenching day. But as she helped the former Sandy Hook teacher process all that had happened, Deb realized something too. The teacher Deb was talking to kept referring to her students as “my kids.”

“Everyone I know in education talks about ‘my kids,'” Deb said.

“Teachers everywhere feel personal responsibility for students they encounter. It’s almost like being second parents.”

It was a gripping interview. But — like the great teachers in Newtown, and the wonderful counselor she is — Deborah Slocum took the opportunity to turn it into a teachable moment, for the students riveted to “Good Morning Staples.”

“Treasure the relationships you have with your teachers, and everyone else in education,” she said.

“You may not even realize how much you mean to them.”

(Today’s “Good Morning Staples” TV show also featured an emotional interview with 2 Newtown High School students, and insights by several guidance counselors. Click here to view the entire program.)