Tag Archives: Westport Youth Commission

Distracted Driving Event Set For Saturday

It’s a recent, and potentially fatal, phenomenon: a car crashes into a tree or telephone pole. It’s the middle of the day — often in fine weather — and there are no other vehicles around.

The cause is almost always distracted driving. And the driver can just as easily be an adult as a teenager.

Meanwhile, for decades, many other accidents — at all times of day — have been caused by impaired drivers. Those under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be any age too.

Staples High School’s Teen Awareness Group wants to do something about it.

This Saturday (October 13, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Staples football field), the club hosts a Distracted Driving event. It’s free, and open to all high school students.

Plus their parents, and any other interested people.

Drivers can be distracted by texting, as well as by alcohol or drugs.

The State Police will be on hand with a simulator. Attendees can experience first-hand the power of an impact by a moving vehicle — this time, fortunately, in a safe, controlled environment.

Westport police officers will create an obstacle course and other simulations. Using special goggles, participants can experience the effects of substances on depth perception, coordination, decreased reaction time and impaired decision-making.

You can also take a field sobriety test.

TAG has organized this Distracted Driving Day with support from the Westport Youth Commission and Westport Police-Youth Club.

It’s an important event. Drive safely — there, back and always.

(NOTE: Attendees should park by the Staples fieldhouse and pool. Staples boys soccer’s 60th anniversary celebration will fill the parking lot by the soccer field and baseball diamond.)

Staples Students Create A Market

Staples High School students take a heavy course load. Local graduation requirements are even more onerous than state ones.

Yet our teenagers also participate in clubs; play music and sports; act; volunteer in the community, and hold jobs.

Somehow, some of them even find time to create jewelry, clothing, artwork, greeting cards and more.

This Saturday (June 9, 12 noon to 4 p.m., Bedford Square), the public gets a chance to see some of their most creative work.

And buy it.

Hillary O’Neill creates and sells terrariums through her company, Pebbles + Posies.

The Westport Youth Commission is sponsoring the 2nd annual  Student Creation Market.

Here’s some of what you’ll find among the dozen businesses:

  • Hillary O’Neill’s unique, hand-made terrariums (Pebbles + Posies)
  • Zoe Barnett and Kai Dasbach’s beaded and woven necklaces, rings and bracelets
  • Kayla Bilotti and Tabby Burke’s hand-painted jeans jackets

Two alumnae from last year’s market are back too:

  • Channing Smith’s custom college logowear
  • Marta Clanton’s custom crochet products.

There’s entertainment too. It’s a special event — one day only.

Because when it’s over, our teenagers go back to work.

Hannah Roseme will sell her jewelry at the Student Creation Market.

Pics Of The Day #218

Don’t mess with these girls.

Police and teenagers threw balls at each other’s heads — and cheered for each other — at tonight’s annual Dodge-a-Cop tournament in the Staples High School fieldhouse.

Sponsored by the Westport Youth Commission, Staples’ Teen Awareness Group, the Westport Police Youth Collaborative and PAL, it’s a chance for a couple of hundred kids and a couple of dozen cops to play dodgeball, eat pizza, win trophies, raise money, and hang out.

Teams came in costume. Police took off their holsters and cuffs. It was a great night for all.

Whether it’s Staples Wrecker blue, or the men (and women) in blue, the message was clear: Blue lives matter.

A typical team — with actual cops on the far left and far right.

Youth Commission Creates A Market

Staples High School students take a heavy course load. Local graduation requirements are even more onerous than state ones.

Yet our teenagers also participate in clubs; play music and sports; act; volunteer in the community, and hold jobs.

Somehow, some of them even find time to create jewelry, clothing, artwork, greeting cards and more.

This Sunday (May 21, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saugatuck Rowing Club), the public gets a chance to see some of their most creative work.

And buy it.

A terrarium by Hillary O’Neill…

The Westport Youth Commission is sponsoring a 1st-ever Student Creation Faire.

Here’s some of what you’ll find:

  • Hillary O’Neill’s unique, hand-made terrariums
  • Leigha Dear and Kate McCrohan’s necklaces and tie-dyes
  • Grace Shi and Amanda Cohen’s “bath bombs”
  • Mia Krishnamurthy’s customized necklaces, chokers, bracelets and anklets
  • Matteo Broccolo and Sophia Livecchi’s original design t-shirts and hoodies
  • Ellie Shapiro’s hand-drawn greeting, birthday and thank-you cards
  • Aishah Avdiu’s curated kombucha
  • Brody Braunstein’s customized shoes
  • Elizabeth Rhoads’ custom tees
  • Sebastian Avila’s oil paintings
  • Abby Suppan’s macrame wall hangings
  • Bianca Bicalho’s handmade jewelry
  • Zoe Barnett and Kai Dasbach’s woven bracelets, beaded necklaces and rings
  • Julie Kaplan’s jewelry
  • Channing Smith’s unique, trendy college logowear
  • Marta Clanton’s custom crochet products

There’s entertainment too, plus catering by the Boathouse restaurant.

It’s a special event — this Sunday only.

Because on Monday, our teenagers go back to work.

… and crochet by Marta Clanton.

Kids Dodge Cops At Staples

Across America, tensions are high between police and the communities they serve.

In Westport, cops and teenagers squared off tonight.

It was all in good fun — and for a good cause.

Westport Youth Commission member Colin Corneck sports a "Collaborative" t-shirt.

Westport Youth Commission member Colin Corneck sports a “Police and Youth Collaborative” t-shirt.

Staples’ Teen Awareness Group, Youth Commission, PAL and Westport Police Department sponsored the 5th annual Dodge-a-Cop tournament, in the high school fieldhouse.

A few hundred kids and a few dozen cops played dodgeball against — and with — each other. There had to be at least 1 officer on each team.

Cops and kids listen to instructions, before the massive tournament began.

Cops and kids listen to instructions, before the massive tournament began.

It was a great, bonding event. The money raised — from entry fees and food sales — went to the Chris Lemone Fund, in honor of the Staples outreach counselor who died last year.

It was a night to show off Westport’s finest.

And by that I mean: everyone who was there.

Police chief Foti Koskinas is flanked by dodgeball players Det. Sgt. Sereneti Dobson and Lt. Jillian Cabara. The referee (front) is Det. Sharon Russo.

Police chief Foti Koskinas is flanked by dodgeball players Det. Sgt. Sereneti Dobson and Lt. Jillian Cabara. The referee (front) is Det. Sharon Russo.

Stephen Rowland, Reid Rizack, Spencer Daniels and Max Zimmerman get ready to rumble.

Stephen Rowland, Reid Rizack, Spencer Daniels and Max Zimmerman get ready to rumble.

Dodgeball is not just for guys and cops!

Dodgeball is not just for guys and cops!

Police officers and everyone else: Watch out for Kenny Brill!

Police officers and everyone else: Watch out for Kenny Brill!

Everyone wants to know who's in the lead.

Youth Commission and TAG members keep score.

Ready! Aim! Fire!

Ready! Aim! Fire!

Kids Eat Free! (Well, Okay, 10% Off)

On the one hand, Westport teenagers always complain “there’s nothing to do here!”

On the other hand, they love to eat.

In an effort to convince hungry kids that there are things to do in Westport — like, go to a variety of local restaurants — the Youth Commission has created a Student Discount Partnership.

Working with the Downtown Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce, commission members have signed nearly 30 restaurants (and 2 businesses: Suited.co and Lux Bond & Green). They offer 10% off for Staples, Weston High and Greens Farms Academy students presenting a school ID. Only 2 places said no.

Participating locations sport a sticker. The eye-catching Minuteman design was created by Staples senior Julia Schorr. Baker Graphics printed 70, for free.

Student discount sticker

The program began just a couple of weeks ago, with low-key publicity. But participation — and feedback — has been great. Oscar’s, for example, has seen a definite bump in business, from groups of teens.

Oscar's owner Lee Papageorge gives thumb's-up to the Youth Commission's Student Discount Program.

Oscar’s owner Lee Papageorge gives thumb’s-up to the Youth Commission’s Student Discount Partnership.

A girl reported that she and her friends had a great time at Spotted Horse. They gave everyone a discount, even though a couple of kids forgot their student IDs.

Outside the Spotted Horse, with student IDs from Staples, Weston and Greens Farms Academy.

Outside Spotted Horse, with student IDs from Staples, Weston and Greens Farms Academy.

“We wanted to concentrate on home-owned places, where kids could have an impact,” says Youth Commission member Reece Schachne, discussing why members selected restaurants instead of chain stores.

Publicity has come mainly through Instagram (“wycstudentdiscounts” is the handle). Youth Commission co-chair Kyle Ratner is helping coordinate an official launch this week, with announcements on the “Good Morning Staples” TV show, a story in the school newspaper Inklings, and the website westportyouthcommission.org (launching February 9).

You’re probably wondering: Why do Westport students need a discount for anything?

Lower prices are not the main aim, Reece and Kyle say. It’s more about making sure teenagers know they have plenty of things to do, and many places to do it, all around Westport.

Especially if it involves food.

(For more information, click here. Participants in the program include 323, Acqua, Angelina’s, Arezzo, Bartaco, Black Duck, Blue Lemon, Border Grill, Da Pietro’s, Finalmente, Freshii, Garelick & Herbs, Jeera Little Thai Kitchen, Joe’s Pizza, Lux Bond & Green, Mumbai Times, Oscar’s, Planet Pizza, Rizzuto’s, Señor Salsa, SoNo Baking Company, Spotted Horse, Suited.Co, Sweet Frog, The Boathouse, Tutti’s, Villa del Sol, Viva Zapata and Westport Pizzeria. Any restaurant or business interested in joining the program should email kyle.ratner1@gmail.com or matthew@westportwestonchamber.com)

Dozens Of Students Dodge Cops

Occasionally, Westport kids run from cops. Earlier this week, they ran toward them.

And threw dodgeballs at their heads.

The cops threw them right back.

In fact, cops and kids were on the same team. They played with and against each other, in the Westport Youth Commission’s annual “Dodge a Cop” event.

The Dodge-a-Cop winners! Standing from left: Deputy police chief Foti Koskinas, "coach" Mac Barecca, Sam Ahlgrim, Jason Nelson, Noah Staffa, Joe Pravder. Front: Grant Sirlin.

The Dodge-a-Cop winners! From left: deputy police chief Foti Koskinas, “coach” Mac Barecca, Grant Sirlin, Sam Ahlgrim, Jason Nelson, Noah Staffa, Joe Pravder.

Staples’ Teen Awareness Group co-sponsored the event. Students paid to play. It was a fundraiser for the Chris Lemone College Fund. Lemone, Staples’ outreach counselor and longtime TAG advisor, died earlier this fall.

The dodgeball tournament — held in the Staples fieldhouse — drew over 100 students. They came from every social group: athletes, actors, robotics team members, you name it.

An all-girls team high-fives their cop. (Photo/Caroline O'Kane)

An all-girls team high-fives their cop. (Photo/Caroline O’Kane)

Each of the 26 teams had at least 1 police officer.

A cop fires in the line of duty. (Photo/Caroline O'Kane)

A cop fires in the line of duty. (Photo/Caroline O’Kane)

As they hurled dodgeballs at each other — and shared pizza — it was hard to tell who had a better time, the cops or the kids.

There was plenty of action all night at the Dodge-a-Cop dodgeball event. (Photo/Caroline O'Kane)

There was plenty of action all night at the Dodge-a-Cop dodgeball event. (Photo/Caroline O’Kane)

Striking a pose. (Photo/Caroline O'Kane)

Striking a pose. (Photo/Caroline O’Kane)

 

Dozens Of Staples Students Dodge Cops

Occasionally, Westport kids run from cops. Tonight, they ran toward them.

And threw dodgeballs at their heads.

The cops threw them right back.

In fact, cops and kids were on the same team. They played with and against each other, in the Westport Youth Commission’s annual “Dodge a Cop” event. Staples’ Teen Awareness Group co-sponsored the event.

Dodgeball kids 2

The dodgeball tournament — held in the Staples fieldhouse — drew over 100 students. They came from every social group: athletes, actors, robotics team members, you name it. The English department had a group of teachers.

Each of the 31 teams had at least 1 police officer. Talk about someone having your back!

Each player paid $5 to participate. The money goes to Homes With Hope.

That’s a big 10-4.

Basketball players...

Basketball players…

Staples Players (the actors) ...

… Staples Players (the actors) …

teachers...

… teachers…

... and police officers all had a great time tonight, at the Youth Commission's annual "Dodge a Cop" event.

… and police officers all had a great time tonight, at the Youth Commission’s annual “Dodge a Cop” event.

 

 

 

Playing In The Sand

“Make hay while the sun shines,” farmers say.

In Westport, we translate that as: “Go play at the beach when it’s nice out.”

Castles in the Sand — a fundraiser for Homes With Hope — drew a great crowd today. Teams, ranging from 2 or 3 people to a dozen — representing civic organizations, businesses or just friends — paid money for a pile of sand. Two hours later, they’d created clever (and very temporary) sculptures.

A group of Staples students celebrated National Train Day by building this locomotive below — hauling cargo behind it. Eric Essagof took this photo, tweeted it, and got a quick shout-out from National Train Day organizers.

Wakeman Town Farm built a hand holding a seed. There were animals, surfers and the Taj Mahal. The Saugatuck Congregational Church built, well, the Saugatuck Congregational Church.

And — this being the beach — “Jaws.”

Beth Carter sent these 2 photos:

Nearby, the 2nd annual Westport Youth Commission-sponsored volleyball tournament was underway.  The group has worked hard all year to bring police and teenagers together. This event was one result.

The cops wore orange t-shirts. The teenagers and 20-somethings wore everything else.

Westport Teens Dodge Cops

It’s not often a kid can whip balls at a cop’s head — and get away with it.

And vice versa.

But last night in the Staples fieldhouse, 100 teenagers and a dozen Westport police officers did just that.

The event was Dodge-a-Cop — the Westport Youth Commission‘s 1st-ever dodgeball tournament. It’s hard to tell who had more fun: the guys (and gals) with guns, or the kids who run from them.

Actually, that was the whole idea: getting police and teenagers to interact somewhere other than at a traffic stop or house party.

A small part of the large "Dodge a Cop" crowd. The police wore tie-dyes.

The Youth Commission — whose 15 teenage and 15 adult members include police officers Ned Batlin and Sereneti Dobson — and Staples’ Teen Awareness Group have been examining ways to help teenagers see cops as human beings who care about kids. And ways to help Westport policemen and women — most of whom do not live in town — see teenagers as more than just stereotypes too.

Police officer Ned Batlin proudly poses with players.

Staples dodgeball players — who came from a broad swath of the student body — formed their own teams. At least one officer joined each team.

The only qualifications to play: an arm. Guts. And $20 per team.

Because Dodge-a-Cop also served as a fundraiser — for the Toys for Tots drive, the Westport Police Department’s annual collection.

It was a great evening. Competitive dodgeball was played. Funds were raised. Pizza was eaten. Cops and kids hung out together. No one got arrested.

And the winners got t-shirts.

Which said: “I Dodged a Cop.”

Four members of the Goons Inc. team (from left): Guerric Vornle von Haagenfels, Jack Dobrich, Thomas Cirillo and Colin Davis.

Police officers Howie Simpson and Eric Woods take time out from their warmup throws.

Isaac Stein is all business before the tournament.