Tag Archives: Westport Public Schools

Roundup: BOE Conversation, WDA Instagram, I-95 Bridge …

One final reminder (it never hurts): Today is Election Day. Polls are open from now through 8 p.m.

Westport’s 5 polling locations are:

  • Districts 1 & 2: Saugatuck Elementary School
  • Districts 3 & 8: Coleytown Middle School
  • District 4 & 5: Greens Farms Elementary School
  • Districts 6 & 7: Long Lots Elementary School
  • District 9: Westport Library

Unsure of your voting district?  Click here.

Election officials will answer all your questions — at the Westport Library, and our 4 other polling places. (Photo/Dan Woog)


All residents are invited to a Westport Board of Education “community conversation” (Tuesday, November 14, noon to 1:30 p.m., Westport Library Komasky Room).

Any topics related to the schools can be raised. Former RTM moderator and educator Velma Heller will facilitate the discussion.


Adam Vengrow writes:

“Each year after our Veterans Day Town Hall service, VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 hosts all local veterans and supporters for food and drinks.

“It costs about $25 per veteran. We hope to have 100 people this year.

“We want our great men and women who have served to enjoy the day. Anything ‘06880’ readers can donate is appreciated — via Paypal @vfw399ct, or email me (a.vengrow@ven2port.com) for Venmo and other options. The VFW is a 501(c)3.”

To learn more about VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399, click here.


The Westport Downtown Association’s Instagram was hacked.

To follow them — and get information about upcoming events, promotions, and everything else downtown-related — click on their new Insta: @WestportDowntownOfficial.


Hard to envision this past weekend’s bridge slide?

Check out Sunday’s great drone video from Rick Giunta (sent by Andrew Colabella):

(Drone photo/Rick Giunta)

The view — looking west — shows traffic squeezed into 2 lanes. The bridge has been slid into place on the southbound side, with that entrance/exit ramp closed.


John Richers writes:

“There are 2 days each year — one in spring, one in fall – when the sun sets directly down the Longshore entrance road.

“I was lucky enough to catch it this afternoon, as I biked through Longshore. Call it ‘LongshoreHenge.'”

(Photo/John Richers)


DNR — Westport’s favorite almost-all-physician rock band — takes the stage on Saturday, November 18 (7 p.m., Westport Library).

Of course, there’s a medical hook: “Rocking for the Cure” is a benefit for pancreatic cancer research at Nuvance Health. Dr. Richard Frank is chief of cancer research there — and DNR’s sax player.

Tony Award-winning actor and great local friend James Naughton will emcee.

Tickets are $35 each, and include wine, beer, soda and snacks. Click here to reserve, and for more information.

Oh, doctor! The DNR band.


More entertainment: “Rock, religion and Westport’s homeless shelter” may never have appeared n the same sentence.

But they all come together this Saturday (November 11, 3 p.m.,) when the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport welcomes the Fairfield School of Rock House Band for a family-friendly concert.

It’s free — but donations to Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center are welcomed. Concert-goers are asked to bring food and toiletries for the Homes with Hope pantry too.

Complimentary refreshments will be available, thanks to merchants like Trader Joe’s.


Also on stage: Jaden Myles Waldman — one of Westport’s most gifted young performers — plays one of his most important roles this Sunday (November 12, 7 p.m., Symphony Space, New York City).

The Bedford Middle School 8th grader is part of “Lyrics for Life.” The goal is to break the stigma surrounding mental health through the power of music.

Jaden will sing with a star-filled lineup of performers from Broadway, TV and fil. All are between 6 and 25 years old. Hosts are Swayam Bhatia (The Mighty Ducks and Succession) and Devin Trey Campbell (MJ The Musical, Kinky Boots, Single Parents).

Jaden was on Broadway in Caroline, or Change. He recently performed a solo at Carnegie Hall’s “We are Here” concert, honoring Holocaust victims and celebrating Jewish history.

He was the voice of Peter in Pinkalicious and Peteriffic, Kun in Mirai, and TO-B1 Star Wars: Visions. his film and TV credits include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Give or Take.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Jaden Myles Waldman


Jazz at the Post celebrates Veterans Day 2 days early.

This Thursday (November 9; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner from 7 p.m.; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399), the popular series welcomes Tower of Power’s trumpeter Michael Bogart (a 20-year veteran of the US Navy Band), and drummer and US Army Band veteran Joe Corsello.

Also sitting in:pianist Mitch Schecter, bassist Brian Glassman and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

There is special Veterans Day pricing. Suggested minimums are $55 for the performance with dinner, $30 for music only. Funds raised will support VFW post 399, the longtime Jazz at the Post host (and a mainstay of the area’s veterans community).

Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.


Speaking of jazz:

Roger Kafuman’s “Speaking of Music” series returns to the Westport Library with a special program. Speaking of Jazz: What It Is, is set for this Saturday (November 11; doors open at 7 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.)

Performers include the Brian Torff Group, the Jones Factor Lite, and the Tim DeHuff Quartet.

A discussion panel includes includes author Bill Milkowski, saxophonist Rabbi Greg Wall; bassist Dave Anderson, and bassist, author and music educator Torff. Kaufman will moderate the discussion, which will include the long evolution of jazz, through multiple genres.

The grandson of ragtime songwriter Mel B. Kaufman, Roger — a 1966 graduate of Staples High School — has spent a lengthy career as a bandleader, bass player, producer, moderator and historian. He founded Old School Music Productions, which puts on the Speaking of Music series as a “cornerstone of musical education” combining narration, expert discussions and live performances.

In 2016 he helped the Smithsonian acquire, archive and exhibit donations by guitarist/composer/producer Steve Cropper (“Midnight Hour,” “Knock on Wood,” “Dock of the Bay”). He has worked closely with Smithsonian curators to archive musicians’ work, including Weston resident Jose Feliciano.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.


It takes a rare Staples High School athlete to play Big 10 football.

Jake Thaw is that rare Wrecker.

The 2020 graduate was an All-State football and basketball player here — and an FCIAC and NFL Foundation Exemplary Scholar Athlete.

At the University of Michigan, he’s a 2-time Academic All-Big 10 honoree.

On Saturday, Thaw’s great punt return helped the Wolverines to a 41-13 victory over Purdue. (Hat tip: Pete Wolgast)

(Photo/David Guralnick for Detroit News)


The shape of this tree at Haskins Preserve — and its heart-shaped leaves — caught Johanna Keyser Rossi’s eye.

It caught ours too. It’s exactly the right image for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … because we’re previewing so many musical performances today, including rock and jazz:

(“06880” is many things, to many people. Today it’s (mostly) music. If you appreciate these daily Roundups, please support your hyper-local blog. Click here — and thank you!)

Scarice: After Terror Attacks, Schools Care For All Students

Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel earlier this month is an international event.

But it has local implications.

At the beginning of last night’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice spoke heartfully about what the incident means, for our students — and for him.

I can speak on behalf of the Board when I reiterate that our hearts are broken for the unspeakable acts of violence and terror that occurred in Israel the weekend of October 7, and now the continued violence that is sure to engulf the region, and world, for the foreseeable future.

Together with the community, the Westport Public Schools stand against all forms of hate and violence, including of course the desecration of human life, the murder and the kidnappings of innocent citizens in Israel.

With the Board, we stand in solidarity in condemnation of these acts, and ready to support all those impacted by these atrocities.

This week I had the fortune of meeting with 4 of our local rabbis: Rabbi Wiederhorn, Rabbi Friedman, Rabbi Kantor and Rabbi Wall. This will be followed by a subsequent meeting with the Interfaith Clergy Association of Westport and Weston

I asked for this meeting in search of wisdom and knowledge … but also in search of thought partners in how to best support our Jewish students, and the Jewish community of Westport.

As Rabbi Kantor pointed out to me, there are 15 million Jews in the world, and 7 million live in Israel.

It is not just a high likelihood … it is a fact that many of our Jewish students have a direct connection to family, friends and loved ones in Israel.

That puts our schools in a position where we must provide necessary school- based supports

As Rabbi Wiederhorn pointed out to me, Israel is at war with the terror group Hamas. Collectively our local rabbis want, and pray for, peace with all neighbors, here, and internationally.

I also had the opportunity to connect with former executive director of the Connecticut ADL, Steve Ginsburg.

I had the chance to work with Steve in confronting a very public issue a couple of years ago. We became friends. And as a friend, Steve shared some wisdom with me that I would like to share with the community.

As the local rabbis cautioned me about historical increases in antisemitism following international incidents such as October 7, they noted concern for all students.

Steve also wisely advised that we remain on high alert for incidents of Islamaphobia. He indicated that historically, incidents of Islamaphobia rise following international incidents such as October 7.

We are a public education system.  We have a lane.  Although I am comfortable expressing my moral clarity on violence directed towards innocent children, elderly, families, etc. anywhere, I am mindful of my professional lane when speaking publicly on these matters. And I am quite confident that my comments will not be received with unanimous support.

That said, in my lane, I am the same exact superintendent for each and every one of our approximately 5,400 students.

Our job as public educators is to support the growth and development of our students.

That work is optimized in an environment marked by physical and emotional well-being, one in which students feel safe, and an abiding sense of belonging and affiliation. This is the foundation of all learning.

As I said in my message to the community, as much as we try, the chaos and evils of the outside world penetrate the walls of our schools. When this happens, we respond to the best of our abilities.

Rather than divide and scatter, as chaos and evil can do, we work to pull closer together as a wider Westport school community to serve our students.

This means every student. We won’t be perfect, but it will not be due to a lack of caring.

Unsung Heroes #300

The first day of school was yesterday. But Staples math teacher Maggie Gomez already has a Westport Public Schools nomination for “06880” Unsung Heroes. She writes:

The whole Westport Public Schools IT (Informational Technology) crew are unsung heroes.

I can’t testify to what goes on in other buildings. But at Staples on Monday, all sorts of computers needed updating. Printers were not connecting. If things were not up and running, opening day would be a mess.

The whole IT department was more than helpful. They individually helped teachers endlessly, all day long. And they did it with smiles on their faces.

After helping one teacher, instead of ducking out they went around and asked if anyone else had issues.

They even helped unlock my own son’s account. because he had entered a wrong password too many times.

The IT staff is very deserving Unsung Heroes. They keep us running all year long, totally behind the scenes — especially before school starts. We would be lost without them. 

Staples High School math teacher Maggie Gomez — at her computer. (File photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Emil 06880blog@gmail.com)

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Scarice Challenges School Staff: Listen. Grow. Make A Difference.

The Westport Public Schools employ nearly 1,000 people.

And every one — teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, nurses, psychologists, social workers, cafeteria workers, custodians, secretaries, security guards — impacts every one of its 5,300-plus students.

Every adult impacts every other one, too.

That was superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice’s message yesterday, at the opening convocation of the 2023-24 year.

The high-energy event in the Staples High auditorium marked the only time all year the entire staff gathers together.

They heard the 4th-year superintendent speak in intensely personal terms about his family, his life, and his vision for the district.

It’s ranked 17th nationally, out of all 13,452 school districts, by Niche.

Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice, at yesterday’s district-wide convocation.

“I dismiss the value of rankings, and their methodology,” Scarice said. “But they mean something to a community.”

More important than rankings, he noted, is that the school experience be valuable and meaningful to every single student.

For that to happen, Scarice said, every staff member, at every level and position in the district, must understand that every interaction with every student matters.

He illustrated his point by mentioning 2 recent graduates. Both had uneven paths during school; both are now successful and happy.

Scarice asked anyone in the auditorium who ever had any interaction with those students — no matter how small — to stand.

Dozens did.

Scarice expanded on that idea by describing his family’s summer trip to the Grand Canyon. As majestic as it is, it was formed very slowly — changing only the depth of a single piece of paper, a year at a time.

“Everyone should see the Grand Canyon,” superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice said, to appreciate both its grandeur and the importance of change.

“Change is inevitable,” he said. “But it’s important that as we change, we also progress.”

Scarice quoted Jacob Riis: “Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps 100 times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the 101st blow it will split in 2, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

He related that quote to his own family — particularly the experiences of his father, who grew up in a New Haven divided strictly by race and ethnicity.

It was big news when Scarice was 9, and a Black family moved next door in their suburban neighborhood.

His father’s relationship with Calvin — the man next door — grew slowly over the years. When Calvin died of cancer in 2003, Tom’s family attended the evangelical church service.

Scarice will never forget his father’s words about Calvin: “He was a good man. He was one of the best friends I ever had.”

That was only the third time in his life that Scarice saw his father cry.

“That is how we change over time,” he said, tying the story back to his earlier comments.

Scarice challenged every district employee to change and grow. The way to do that, he added, is to listen to every student and colleague’s stories.

Every day, he said, “is an opportunity to strike at that stonecutter’s stone.” Every interaction — no matter how seemingly small or unseen — matters.

Soon, the convocation was over. The nearly 1,000 attendees headed back to meetings, planning and preparation.

A new school year — filled, as always, with excitement, anticipation, and countless chances for growth — begins Tuesday.

(The opening convocation also included the announcement of Westport’s Teacher of the Year: Bedford Middle School social studies instructor and team leader Lou DeFichy. A full story will appear later on “06880.”)

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Roundup: RTM’s Saugatuck Vote, Josh Koskoff & Alex Jones …

By an overwhelming majority last night, the Representative Town Meeting affirmed the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent decisions to allow text and map amendments in Saugatuck.

There were 33 RTM members in favor, 1 against (Sal Liccione) and 1 abstention (Matthew Mandell). The vote — following similar margins in the RTM’s Transit and Planning & Zoning Committees — means that planning can proceed for the Hamlet at Saugatuck.

That project could bring new retail, restaurants, residences, and a hotel and marina to the area near the train station.

The RTM vote was required, based on a petition from voters. Twenty-four members had to vote to overturn the P&Z decision — but only 1 did.

Next up: A site plan for the Hamlet project, and approval from the P&Z.

Artists’ rendering of an interior courtyard of The Hamlet at Saugatuck.


What’s the newest hot place in town for teenagers?

The Westport Library.

It’s been filled all week long, with Staples High School students studying for midterms.

The Trefz Forum — and the rest of the building — has been a place where friends can work together, but where others can find space to be alone. It’s serious, but also social — perfect for teens’ needs.

The other night, library officials surprised the students with 25 pizzas.

They were gone quicker than you could say “good luck with exams!”

Where do Westport teenagers head at night? The Westport Library. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


Speaking of the Westport Library: The Trefz Forum will be packed tomorrow morning too (Thursday, January 19, 10 a.m.).

Local attorney (and Staples High graduate) Josh Koskoff will discuss his latest victory: the largest verdict in history in a defamation suit. Koskoff led the case against Alex Jones, who used his Infowars website and daily radio show to present counter-factual information about issues including the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Koskoff’s talk will also be livestreamed. Click here for the link.

The event is co-sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

Josh Koskoff


Speaking still of the Library:

It was packed in November, for the Board of Education’s first “Community Conversation.”

Plenty of topics were discussed — but others, like challenges to books in the high school library, and diversity, equity and inclusion planning — did not have time for exploration.

A second open discussion — picking up where last fall’s left off — is set for next Tuesday (January 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Westport Library). All residents are invited, for a “back-and-forth exchange) with Board of Education members, and school administrators.


Spiga is a popular New Canaan restaurant, specializing in handmade pasta, brick oven pizza and other Italian fare.

Soon, they’ll add a Westport location. They’re replacing Tarry Lodge on Charles Street. The target date for opening is late March.

It’s one more Italian business in a line that began with Esposito’s gas station, and continued through Abbondanza. (Hat tip: Maria Funicello)


Speaking of Saugatuck: Mackenzie Winner Berman has a question that’s on the minds of many other Westporters. She writes:

“On Saugatuck Avenue, roughly across the street from the old Westport Chinese/ new Lomito restaurant, is a home with a small storefront on street level.

“The home is being renovated. I assumed the storefront would go, but recently it has been improved with new windows, among other things.

“Does anyone know the plans for that space? It has always interested me. Every time I drive by, I try to imagine what sort of activity used to take to place there.”


Sacred Heart University’s beautiful new Martire Family Arena is drawing raves. And fans.

Those spectators are helping the Pioneers’ men’s ice hockey program raise funds for great causes.

The January 21 game (7 p.m., vs. Holy Cross) will benefit the Chad Jacobs Hockey Foundation — run by Westporter Karen Jacobs — and the CT Hockey Foundation. The Jacobs fund was a major supporter of education for Charlie and Will Capalbo, grandsons of Westport writer Ina Chadwick. Charlie fought a long, courageous battle against several cancers.

A February 4 game (7 p.m., vs. American International) for CapalboStrong will benefit Dana Farber Cancer Institute, specifically pediatric research. That date is the anniversary of Charlie’s life-saving bone marrow transplant from his brother Will, in 2019.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)


The bad news: There was plenty of trash at the I-95 Exit 18 commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector.

The good news: A crew of dedicated Westporters picked it up last weekend.

The bad news: There will always be more garbage in need of collection.

To find out what’s next for our civic-minded citizens — and help — email Andrew Colabella: acolabellartm4@gmail.com.

Town employees haul away the trash collected at the commuter parking lot. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)


“Surface Alchemy” — a new exhibition featuring Donald Martiny and Stuart Disston — opens this Saturday (January 21; reception from 5 to 7 p.m.) at Amy Simon Fine Art (123 Post Road East).

The exhibit runs through February 25.

“The Picnic” — Acrylics, encaustic and photo transfer on canvas mounted on panel (Stuart Disston)


You can teach an old dog new tricks. Or — in the case of Bobo — a new dog can enjoy old tricks.

Either way, here’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, from (naturally) Compo Beach:

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)


And finally … today is the birthday of David Ruffin.

One of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964-68, and later a solo star, was born on this date in 1941. He died in 1991, from an accidental overdose of crack cocaine.

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Unsung Heroes #260

Last Friday was tough.

Phone calls from a demented human being to police departments around the state — while many were honoring 2 slain officers at a Rentschler Field ceremony — forced high-level security measures.

At Staples High School, nearly 2,000 students and scores of staff members went into lockdown. At nearby Bedford Middle School, a “shelter in place” order was given.

Nearly an hour after Staples High School went into lockdown Friday morning, an ambulance and police car sat outside the building. (Photo/Jim Honeycutt)

Officials — rightly — erred on the side of caution. Before the lockdown was lifted, armed officers checked every room.

With police weapons visible to students and staff, superintendent of school Thomas Scarice asked teachers were to focus the rest of the day on the social/emotional needs of students. Emotional support was available for anyone who needed it.

Welcome to America, 2022.

That afternoon, longtime Westporter (and Staples High School graduate) Stacie Curran wrote:

“Once again (and sadly), please publicly recognize all of our teachers, staff, administrators, and our incredible police force for their attention, their dedication, their care and brave protection our children through this lockdown.”

Stacie is right. Scarice, his staff, and administrators at Staples and Bedford acted swiftly and decisively. Police officers were on the scene quickly. Working with Staples’ school resource officer, they believed soon that the call was a hoax.

Still, they made absolutely certain that the school was safe. Meanwhile, Westport’s Emergency Medical Services were on hand, standing by if needed.

The response and collaboration of all involved was impressive. As Stacie notes, we owe thanks to all of Friday’s Unsung Heroes, for keeping our community secure.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com)

(“06880 celebrates an Unsung Hero every Wednesday. To help support this and all other featus, please click here.)


Update: Threatening Call To Schools Believed To Be “False Alarm”

“06880” has learned that Westport police have every reason to believe the lockdown at Staples High School is a false alarm.

Multiple schools across the state received the same threat. As a precaution, police are conducting a room by room search. 

A source told “06880” that SWAT teams had been sent to schools in Stamford and Bridgeport earlier today.

Lockdown At Staples; “Shelter In Place” At Bedford

Westport superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice says:

“This morning, a call was made to the Westport Police Department that warranted a lockdown at Staples High School.

“As a precaution, Bedford Middle School was placed in a ‘shelter in place.; The WPD is on scene at this moment investigating and the building is secure.

“When a school is in a lockdown or ‘shelter in place,’ no visitors are allowed on campus. All district schools have implemented safety procedures until this matter is resolved.”

Back To School!

This story ran last August, as the new school year began. Several readers asked to see it again. It’s just as timely — and timeless — today. Have a great year!


Forget January 1. Pshaw, Rosh Hashanah. Today — at least for Westport parents and students — is the real start of the new year.

It’s the first day of school.

Whether you’re a kindergartner heading off on your own, a Staples senior already counting the days to graduation, or a mom or dad feeling pride, trepidation and the warp-speed passage of time — or anyone else, who has ever gone to school — this story is for you. It was first published a few years ago, but is back by popular request.

Summer vacation ends with a thud tomorrow. Each year it’s the same: One day a kid’s free as a cat; the next he’s trapped, chained to the rhythm of the school calendar for 10 long months.

Greens Farms Elementary School.

Some youngsters love this time of year; they’re eager to greet old friends, and meet new ones. Or they can’t wait for the smell of newly waxed floors, the security of assigned seats, the praise they know will be lavished on them day after day.

Others abhor it. The thought of entering a strange building filled with strange faces, or trying to be part of a group of peers who won’t accept them, or sitting for hours at a time, doing work they can’t stand, is excruciating — even physically sickening.

Around this time each year, I think about the entire school experience. I wonder which kindergartner will hate school for the rest of the year because his teacher makes a face the morning he throws up in front of everyone, and which will love school because an aide congratulates her the afternoon she almost puts on her coat all by herself.

Which 1st grader will invent any excuse not to go to gym because he can’t throw a ball, and which will get through the school day only because he knows gym is coming soon?

Saugatuck Elementary School

Which 4th grader will walk meekly into class each morning with just one ambition — to get through the day without anyone noticing how ugly, or stupid, or poorly dressed she is — and which will look back on 4th grade as a turning point in her life because a guidance counselor took the time to talk to her, to show her how to comb her hair better, to make her feel good about herself?

Which 5th grader will have a teacher who does nothing when she catches him cheating on a test — too much effort to raise such a touchy issue — and which will have a teacher who scares him so much when he’s caught that he vows to never cheat in school again?

Which 6th grader will enter middle school intent on making a name for himself as the best fighter in his class, and which with the aim of never getting a grade lower than an A?  Which 6th grader’s ambition will change, and which will remain the same?

Bedford Middle School.

Which 9th grader will temper his fledgling interest in current events with the feeling “it’s not cool; no one else in class cares,” and which will visit the New York Times website every day because her class is working on “this really neat project”?

Which 10th grader will hate English because all she does is read stupid books assigned by the stupid teacher from some stupid list, and which will go to Barnes & Noble on his own for the first time because his teacher suggests there are more books by the same author he might enjoy?

Which 12th grader will have the brains to apply to 3 Ivy League schools, but lack the common courtesy to thank a teacher who wrote glowing recommendation to all of them? And which will slip a note in a teacher’s box the morning of graduation that says, “Thanks.  I’m really glad I had you this year”?

Staples High School

It’s easy to wrap our school years in nostalgic gauze, or try to stuff the bad memories down our mental garbage disposals.

We also tend not to think in concrete terms about what goes on inside school walls every day. Learning, we assume, happens. Kids read, write, use laptops, draw, eat and see their friends.

We seldom realize how much of an impact this institution we call “school” has on our kids.

Or how much it has had on us.

Unmasked Monday

Today, the masks come off.

Since August 2020, Westport schools have been under a mask mandate. For 18 months, everyone — students, staff, custodians, cafeteria workers, the few visitors allowed in — has spent every minute inside with half their face covered.

Seniors in high school, kindergarteners, principals — it did not matter how old or young you were. If you were in school, you wore a mask.

Students watching lessons at home via Zoom saw their teachers covered (and heard their voices muffled). Chorus members sang and actors acted with masks. Indoor athletes practiced and played with masks (though this winter, they were generally worn around the neck).

Masks at this year’s Candlelight Concert. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Today, teachers will see this year’s students’ faces for the first time. And vice versa.

It will be different. Odd. For some it will be liberating. For others, scary.

It’s a major step on the road back to normalcy — or at least, to the Before Times. It’s a significant indicator that although COVID is still with us, we’re now figuring out how to live with it, rather than be ruled by it.

We’ve come a long way from just 6 weeks ago, when Omicron stunned us with its sudden surge. Just as the experts predicted though, it ebbed as quickly as it flowed.

A new variant no doubt awaits. It may be more or less transmissible than others. It may target a different population. It may affect people in different ways, or be a more or less lethal version of what we’ve seen.

We may go back to masks, temporarily. Some people will continue to wear them, everywhere or in certain places. But I can’t imagine we’ll go back to another 18 months of masks in schools.

Just as we won’t go back to washing our hands like OCD sufferers, for 2 “Happy Birthday” stanzas at a time. Nor will we once again quarantine our food outdoors for 48 hours, after wiping down every piece of fruit, carton of milk and box of cereal.

Still, we’ll take some lessons from the 18 months of masks. We’ve learned that they prevent more than COVID. It’s been a long time since I’ve had even a cold, and this flu season has been a breeze. The next time something is “going around,” we’ll see masks again — and no one will think twice about them.

Another lesson: We can do this. If you had told me in March of 2020 that 2 years later we’d still be battling COVID — and that, despite a vaccine developed in record time, huge swaths of Americans refused to take it — I’d have said, “No way can we hang in that long.”

But hang in we did. We had to. The coronavirus hung around too. We had no choice.

So now we look ahead. Restaurants are filling back up. The newcomers who flooded into Westport over the past 2 years — families that loved discovering their new community, even during a lockdown — are starting to see just how great this place really is.

The biggest party in town — the 4th of July fireworks — is back on. (Actually, they’re June 30th. That’s just 4 days fewer to wait.)

Fireworks return on June 30th. (Photo/David Squires)

But back to the start of this story: the kids.

There may be collateral damage from the past 18 months. The youngest children — those who have never known a mask-free school — may carry this with them forever.

I think about everyone who grew up in the Depression. For the rest of their lives — no matter how well-off and secure they were — they ate everything on their plate. And they turned off every light when they left a room, to “save the electric.”

But I also know that kids are resilient. They’re adaptable. They’re flexible.

And they’ve complained far less about masks than adults.

There may be some strange moments today, when the masks come off in school. Soon enough though, it will be back to normal.

Or whatever passes for the New Normal these days.