Tag Archives: Westport PTA Council

Roundup: ArtSmart, Smart Students, Horace Lewis …


ArtSmart — a great community program — is back after COVID. It’s “reimagined,” and better than ever.

A joint program between the Westport PTA Council and Westport Library, the project bring arts education and creative arts programming in elementary schools.

The Library provides excellent resources to parents volunteers, to research a variety of artists and styles of expression. Parent volunteers go into classrooms to introduce works of individual artists or styles (street art, murals, cartooning, sculpture, etc.). Students then create their own art.

In the spring, each class exhibits their work. Every elementary school is transformed into an art museum for the night.

This year, 2 vaccinated parent volunteers will be in a class. Outdoor projects are strongly encouraged. Museum Night may have timed admission slots, or be virtual.

Interested elementary school parents can attend a kickoff event on the Library’s river steps this Tuesday (September 28, 10 a.m.). No experience as an artist or teacher is necessary.

A workshop for new volunteers will follow on October 13 (10 a.m.). For more information, email co-chair Danielle Dobin: danielle@apifeni.com.


Help for Horace Lewis — the popular Staples and Coleytown Middle School head custodian who suffered a devastating stroke this summer — continues to pour in.

Tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, September 26, noon to 4 p.m.),OneWestport will hold a bake sale in front of Savvy + Grace on Main Street.

All contributions are welcome. To help without buying delicious baked goods, click here.

Horace Lewis, in a typical pose.


Speaking of Staples: Congratulations to our high school’s 7 National Merit Semifinalists.

Emma Alcyone, Natalie Bandura, Zachary Bishop, Michael Brody, Chloe Nevas, Maxwell Tanksley and Julian Weng are part of the fewer than 1 percent of more than 1.5 million students who took the 2020 PSAT/NMSQT qualifying exam. They’re competing for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $30 million.

From left: Chloe Nevas, Emma Alcyone, Natalie Bandura, Maxwell Tanksley,
Zachary Bishop, Michael Brody, Julian Weng.


The Yankee Doodle Fair — in its new September slot — continues to draw big crowds.

It continues at the Westport Woman’s Club and adjacent parking lot on Imperial Avenue today (Saturday) from 1 to 10 p.m. The annual event ends tomorrow (Sunday), 1 to 5 p.m.

Action at last night’s fair. (Photo/Joel Treisman)


Who wants to be a victim?

Weston and Easton EMS host an “Active Threat Class” October 16-17. Volunteers at least 18 years old are needed to play “victims,” helping police, fire and EMS members — including those from Westport — train. Click here for details.


Richard LoCascio died on Tuesday. His wife, Cynthia Ann Lozyniak, LoCascio was by his side. He was 80 years old.

The Bronx native earned a master’s degree in History from Fordham University, and a master’s in special education from New Rochelle Teachers College. He taught for 35 years in the Bronx, and also served as a substitute teacher in Fairfield.

Richard loved to paint and draw, write poetry and play the saxophone, flute and keyboard. He was a 2nd degree black belt in judo. He also loved nature, and carefully tended to his garden. He and Cynthia traveled the world and had many adventures together, especially on their annual trip to the Maine coast.

In addition to Cynthia, Richard is survived by his daughters Michelle LoCascio of the Bronx and Andrea LoCascio of Greenwich; sister Helen LoCascio of Stuart, Florida; nieces Nicole and Laura Augenti; nephews Casey, Jack and Peter Lozyniak, and many cousins.

A service will be held Tuesday (September 28, 11 a.m.) at St. Luke Church, with a Mass of Christian burial. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to any cancer organization of your choice. Click here to leave online condolences.

Richard LoCascio


An early fall day brought Matthew Slossberg to the water. He captured today’s serene “Westport … Naturally” scene:

(Matthew Slossberg)


And finally … today is National One-Hit Wonder Day.

Where would the world be without groups and solo artists who roared onto the music scene with huge smashes, then faded just as quickly into obscurity?

Here are 3 of my “favorites” from the 1960s. All — improbably — reached #1. Click “Comments” below to nominate your own, from whatever years you choose.


LWV Wants Your Candidate Debate Questions

With Connecticut teetering on the brink of financial disaster — and education, housing, transportation and infrastructure issues clamoring for attention too — the stakes are high in next month’s election.

So besides sponsoring their usual candidates’ debate, Westport’s League of Women Voters is taking one more step to ensure citizen involvement.

The October 29 event (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) will include questions from community members — and they can be emailed ahead of time.

To ask State Senate candidates Toni Boucher, Will Haskell, Tony Hwang and Michelle McCabe, and House hopefuls Gail Lavielle, Stephanie Thomas, Greg Kraut and Jonathan Steinberg anything, email LWVWestportct.org.

Screeners — 1 Republican, 1 Democrat and 1 unaffiliated League member — will ensure that all questions are nonpartisan.

Can’t be there? The debate will be televised live on Cablevision Channel 79 and Frontier channel 90, and posted thereafter on the town website.

Whether you ask questions, attend the debate or miss it complete, don’t forget to vote! Election Day is November 6.

(The League of Women Voters is co-sponsoring this debate, with the Westport PTA Council.)

PTA Thanks Cops

In a show of appreciation, the Staples High School PTA and Westport PTA Council treated the Westport Police Department to lunch today.

The card below says it all:

A Very Artsy Weekend Ahead

Who says Westport isn’t still an “arts colony”?

Oh. I did. Never mind.

Two upcoming events put the A-word front and center.

The first is this Saturday (October 26). The Westport Arts Advisory Committee and Westport PTA Council co-sponsor a guided tour of the Westport Public Schools Permanent Art Collection. A bus leaves the Westport Historical Society at 12:45 p.m., stopping at 4 schools and the firehouse.

Wheeler House, by Stevan Dohans. It's now the site of the Westport Historical Society -- where Saturday's tour begins.

Wheeler House, by Stevan Dohans. It’s now the site of the Westport Historical Society — where Saturday’s tour begins.

It’s a phenomenal treasure, ranging from WPA murals created by Westport artists during the Depression, to galleries by the likes of Alexander Calder and Roy Lichtenstein.

At Kings Highway Elementary School, tour-goers will see John Steuart Curry’s “Tragedy” and “Comedy” frescoes. Green’s Farms School features works by Andy Warhol and Robert Motherwell, plus the intriguing “Fountain” installation.

Bedford Middle School hosts murals from Ralph Boyer’s “History of Fire” series, while Staples High is filled with paintings, photos, etchings, watercolors and lithographs by Westporters like Stevan Dohanos, Leonard Everett Fisher, Howard Munce, Lynsey Addario and Miggs Burroughs. There are also 40 student-curated works, with recorded audio commentary.

Igor Pikayzen. master violinist.

Igor Pikayzen. master violinist.

The next day (Sunday, Oct. 27, 2 p.m.), Town Hall is the site for the 20th anniversary celebration of the Arts Advisory Committee. There will be readings from works by John Hersey, Evan Hunter, Sinclair Lewis and Peter DeVries; film selections by Ring Lardner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Howard Fast and Max Shulman; performances by John Corigliano Jr. and Igor Pikayzen, and appearances by Scott Bryce and Joanna Gleason. All are Westporters or former residents.

Afterwards, everyone is invited to a reception across the street. The Westport Historical Society hosts an exhibition honoring former Visual Arts Awards recipients.

It’s an arts-filled weekend. Just like back in the day, when Westport was definitely an “artists’ colony.”

(For more information on the bus tour, call 203-222-1424 or email bbrauner@westporthistory.org. For more information on the Westport Arts Awards, click here.)


Vintage Virtuosa

As a California native, Karen Ellman might be expected to have little regard for anything old.

Karen Ellman

But she always loved “things with past lives.”  When she moved East, had 2 kids and stopped working, she went to estate sales.  She found herself digging through closets — and found a new passion.

“The fabrics and colors are so different from today,” Karen says.  “These clothes aren’t ‘made’; they’re constructed.  You can’t find that now.”

She began buying vintage clothing — “rescuing it from landfill.”  In one house she discovered 1950s dresses.  Her research into items like these led Karen to “vintage websites.”

In 2004 she set up her own sales site.  She called it Vintage Virtuosa (the word means “female virtuoso”; Karen likes the reference to creativity and aesthetics).

As the site grew, she was asked to personally view estates.  “It was an adrenaline rush to be invited by a niece or granddaughter who had saved these things,” Karen says.  “I heard their stories.  It was like a lesson in history or sociology.”

Now — in a reversal of the trend that saw brick-and-mortar stores add  online presences, and defying an economy that has seen many Westport businesses fold — she is setting up a vintage clothing shop in Colonial Green.   Vintage Virtuosa — the same name as her website – will open “any day now,” Karen says.

“I want to see these items on people,” she explains.  “I look forward to seeing people try them on.  I want to connect with the people who buy vintage clothing, and share it all with the community.”

Karen sees the store as a natural extension of her longtime volunteer work here.  She was president of the King’s Highway PTA, and co-president of the townwide PTA Council.

“I met so many smart, motivated, capable women in the PTAs and on town boards,” she says.  She learned a lot about business from them.  Now, with a sophomore at Staples and an 8th grader at Coleytown, Karen has time to put her knowledge and talents to work.

In addition to dresses, Vintage Virtuosa will feature handbags, jewelry, and items like place settings.

Karen sees her store’s customer base as “everyone from high school and college girls up through moms who want something different, and appreciate good design.”

Vintage clothing does not mean looking like “a museum piece,” Karen notes.  She is concentrating on the 1940s through ’80s.  There’s plenty of color; there’s day and evening wear, cocktail dresses, sweaters, and much more.

“I want to listen to what people like, and what they want — and I’ll respond.  This is all about the thrill of the hunt.”

It’s a thrill for Vintage Virtuosa customers — and for Karen Ellman, its founder, owner and new storekeeper.

“Race To Nowhere” Heads Here

Audiences in Chappaqua, Bethesda, Winnetka — high-achieving, high-pressure Westport-type towns across the country — have flocked to “Race to Nowhere.”

The film — fueled largely by word of mouth (internet-style) — has drawn so many SRO crowds at schools, churches and town hall auditoriums around the country, it’s already the 20th most successful documentary ever.

Parents, educators, clergy, physicians — and teenagers — are drawn by the theme:  that years spent building resumes, being tutored and seeking perfection may not produce perfect, healthy, high-achieving kids.  The result, rather, could be “unhealthy, disengaged, unprepared and stressed-out youth.”

After screenings, audiences stay for facilitated discussions.  Recently, in New Canaan, a few high-achieving fathers took issue with the film’s premise that intense pressure is bad.

That’s the way the world works, they said.

Two Staples students disagreed.  They’d gone with Chris Lemone — the outreach worker who runs the school’s Teen Awareness Group — and stuck around to talk.  (Most of the New Canaan kids left — maybe too much homework?)

The Stapleites refuted the dads — strongly and eloquently.  Their words made a tremendous impact on the adult audience.

Now, “Race to Nowhere” is coming to Westport.

The PTA Council is sponsoring a Feb. 15 viewing at Bedford Middle School.  In 2 days — and with virtually no publicity — 600 free tickets sold out.  It happened so quickly, the Staples student and parent communities had not even received details.

The screening cost has already put the PTA Council over their measly budget of $1000.  They hope to recoup some of the money from audience donations that night.

A scene from "Race to Nowhere." A typical Westport scene too?

The Council plans a 2nd screening in March.  They need someone to fund the  $2500.  In a high-achieving community like this, someone should write a check today.

In the meantime, Westporters can click here to find details on other local screenings — including January 28 at Town Hall. Tickets to that show cost $10 each; it’s sponsored by the Learning Community Day School.

Are Westport students engaged in a “race to nowhere” — or do we avoid many of the traps that snare youngsters in similar communities?

Those questions — and others like them — will be explored here this winter.  Whatever the answers, it’s clear — by the race for tickets — that “Race to Nowhere” is important to run.