Tag Archives: Westport Youth Commission

Roundup: Easter, Daffodils, Dragon …

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Westport is getting ready for Easter weekend.

A Sunday sunrise service is set for 6 a.m. at Compo Beach, between the cannons and the pavilion. It’s co-hosted by 4 churches: Saugatuck, Greens Farms and Norfield Congregational, and United Methodist. All participants are asked to please wear masks!

Also on Sunday, Saugatuck Congregational will hold a “drive-in” worship in the parking lot, at 10 a.m. The service — featuring live music, drama and Easter reflection — will be broadcast to car radios. Sit in the comfort of your car, or bring a beach chair and “tailgate.” The service will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Click here for details.

And tomorrow (Good Friday, 11:30 a.m., Branson Hall), Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church will screen the choral piece “The Last 7 Words of the Unarmed.” It will be followed at noon by an intergenerational neighborhood walk. Following a liturgy of Stations of the Cross, it will focus on racial justice and reconciliation. Participants will make a small loop around downtown Westport, stopping at various locations to pray and reflect.

Easter sunrise service, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Rev. Alison Patton)

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It’s April — and that means National Distracted Driving Month.

The Westport Police Department is joining with the Connecticut Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office in a month-long “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign.

So put down your phone — this month, and every month. The first offense will cost you $150. Then it’s $300 the second time. And $500 for the third and subsequent violations.

But if it gets to that point, you shouldn’t be driving at all.

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The daffodils all along Prospect Road are blooming beautifully.

And if you know someone who has been bullied — or helped prevent bullying — they’re yours for the taking.

Melissa Ceriale — the owner, with her husband John, of an 8-acre oasis midway down the street — invites anyone who knows people in the categories above to clip a bouquet, and give it to them.

NOTE: Please take them only from the roadway in front of #11, 13, 21 and 25 Prospect Road — and not from the gardens themselves!

Daffodils on Prospect Road. (Photo/Melissa Ceriale)

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In other nature news: Last night, a huge dead tree on the big hill at the south end of Winslow Park, not far from the North Compo parking lot, came crashing down — smack across the walking path.

Bob Cooper says: “I’ve had my eye on it for a couple years, but this was sooner than I expected. It appears the lower end was rotting inside.”

(Photo/Bob Cooper)

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The Westport Youth Commission is one of our town’s great, under-the-radar groups.

Thirty members — 15 students, 15 adults, all appointed by the 1st selectman — meet monthly. They talk about teen needs, plan projects and programs, and (this is huge) provide high schoolers with a great experience in leadership.

Of course, every year members graduate. So the YAC is looking for students now in grades 8-11 (and adult members) to serve for the 2021-’22 school year. Freshmen join a special committee, before joining the board officially as sophomoes.

The appointment process includes an application, and at least one letter of recommendation. The deadline is May 14. Click here for the application. For more information, call 203-341-1155 or email kgodburn@westportct.gov.

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The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge is the scene for just about everything. Political protests, Memorial Day parades, fishing — you name it, it’s happened there.

Though this scene Tuesday evening was probably a first:

(Photo/Barbara McDonald)

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Aquarion has announced its 2021 mandatory sprinkler irrigation schedule.

They say: “The schedule helps conserve water supplies by reducing overwatering of lawns and gardens through a maximum 2 days per week schedule. The purpose is to ensure that local water supplies remain sufficient for critical needs such as human consumption and fire protection.

“Lawns and gardens can thrive on reduced watering. By encouraging roots to grow deeper into the soil, they’re able to absorb more moisture and nutrients, even during dry spells. Customers may continue using drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand-held watering at any time.”

The schedule begins today, and is based on the last digit of your street address.

If your address ends in an even number, or you have no numbered address, you can water only on Sundays and Wednesdays, from 12:01 a.m. to 10 a.m., or 6 p.m. to midnight.

If your address ends in an odd, number, you can water only on Saturdays and Tuesdays, same times as above.

For more information, click here. NOTE: Some residents may qualify for a variance. For example, if you’ve installed new plantings or sod in the spring, you arw allowed to water more frequently to help get plants established.

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MoCA Westport’s new exhibit, “Smash,” is dedicated exclusively to the videos of
Marilyn Minter.

It opens to the public tomorrow (Friday, April 2). Reservations are available through the website, On Free Fridays, reservations are not required, and admission is free. Click below for a sneak peek:

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The Westport Library’s Verso Studios are certainly versatile.

Starting April 12 (7 p.m.), it’s the focus of a Video Production hybrid course. The instructor is the Library’s own Emmy Award winner, David Bibbey.

The first 4 sessions are virtual. The final 2 are in-person. Participants will learn how to use professional video and audio recording equipment, lighting, and live switching/recording/streaming equipment. Participants can also serve as live crew for video shoots.

The cost is $150. To register, click here.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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With all the talk about vehicular traffic on a renovated or rebuilt William F. Cribari Bridge, no one has thought about what would happen if a super tanker got caught nearby.

Evan Stein has it figured out:

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And finally … today is April 1.

 

Roundup: Kids’ Grief, Senate Parliamentarian, More

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Kids are resilient.

We say that a lot. Partly, it’s true. Partly, we want to believe it.

But COVID has caused grief for many youngsters. They’ve lost relatives. They fear others may suffer and die. They’ve lost so much of their own normal lives. And there’s so much uncertainty, day after day after day.

Experience Camps knows a lot about grief. The national, no-cost program for grieving children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver runs great summer camps for children and teens.

When the coronavirus derailed last year’s programs, they focused instead on raising awareness of the many facets of childhood grief.

A key part of that effort is a Zoom panel discussion next Tuesday (March 2, 2 p..m.). Experts from a variety of perspectives will discuss “How the Pandemic of Grief is Impacting Kids.”

Experience Camps founder Sara Deren says the audience is “anyone and everyone. Everyone is grieving now. This is not just for professionals. If you have or know kids, it’s important to understand COVID’s impact on them.”

Click here to register, and for more information.

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There’s always a Westport connection to national news.

When the US Senate parliamentarian ruled against yesterday that raising the minimum wage to $15 violated budgetary rules limiting what can be included in the legislation, at least 2 “06880” readers wondered: Who exactly is this parliamentarian.

Google (and Wikipedia) provided the answer: She is Elizabeth MacDonough. And although she grew up near Washington, DC, she graduated from Greens Farms Academy in 1984.

The New York Times reports that MacDonough — the first woman in the post — has “retained both the position and bipartisan respect under the leadership of both parties since she was named in 2012.”

Not much else is known about her local ties. If you’ve got more — or her remember her from GFA — click “Comments” below. (Hat tip: Clark Thiemann)

Elizabeth MacDonough:  (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

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One of the town’s most important — and least publicized — honors is the James S. Bacharach Service to the Community Award.

Presented annually for the last 32 years by the Westport Youth Commission to one or more high school seniors who live in or attend school in town, it recognizes significant service to Westport. Bacharach founded and served as president of the Youth Adult Council. He was also deeply involved in the organization that is now Homes with Hope.

Any Westporter — adult or student — can nominate a high school senior. Nominees should have a strong record of community service within Westport. Click here for a nomination form.

Submissions must be accompanied by 2 references. A maximum of 2 letters of support can be uploaded to the application or emailed separately to kgodburn@westportct.gov. The deadline is March 26.

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Last night’s nearly full moon was big.

But not as big as it was as seen through the Westport Astronomical Society’s telescope, at Rolnick Observatory.

Franco Fellah sends along this shot, and points out the prominence of the Tycho impact crater on the right.

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

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And finally … there are some red-letter birthdays today. Johnny Cash was born February 25, 1932. He died in 2003.

Fats Domino was born on this date in 1928. He died in 2017.

And of course Victor Hugo, born today in 1802. He died in 1885.

Roundup: Winter Sports, Papal Prayer, Youth Survey, More


Staples High School’s winter sports season moved a step closer to a (long-delayed) reality yesterday.

The state Department of Public Health told the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference — the organizing body for high school sports — that low- and moderate-risk sports (basketball, ice And fnahockey, indoor track, swimming and gymnastics) can begin practicing a week from today (January 19).

The CIAC will meet Thursday to approve the plan. The first games could be played February 1, though that date may be pushed back.

Safety protocols include masks at all times, including competition, social distancing on the sidelines, and perhaps no spectators other than parents. There can be no multi-team indoor track meets.

High-risk sports (wrestling and cheer) will be allowed only small-group practices, with no competitions.

Still, for winter athletes and coaches — whose seasons were canceled abruptly last March, when COVID first struck — the fact that abbreviated seasons may begin soon was welcome news.


Janine Scotti writes:

I was almost home yesterday morning, my heart still heavy from the events of the last week, when I saw what appeared to be a bag’s worth of garbage strewn along Riverside Avenue.

I knew that if I had called Public Works, they could not arrive before some of the trash ended up in the Saugatuck River. With no other option, and inspired by the images of Congressman Andy Kim on his hands and knees cleaning the floor of the Capitol, I hurried home to grab gloves and a trash bag.

When I returned, a passerby walking a beautiful golden retriever said the garbage had probably fallen from a vehicle on its way to the dump.

As I loaded the mess into the bag I had brought, I realized it had been collected from the nearby church. Amid the papers were handfuls of small cut-out hearts.  As a collector of hearts of all shapes and sizes, I smile as I continued my work.

As I was getting ready to head home, I found one last item: a 3 x 3 laminated card. On the front was an image of Pope John XXIII. On the back, was this prayer:

I am certain it was no accident that the litter caught my attention yesterday, as a way for me to find this message and share it.

After this tragic week in our democracy, this unexpected find gave me the reassurance I was looking for. I hope that no matter what your political party or faith, it also brings you comfort and hope, today and in the future.


Bullying. Lack of non-car transportation. Lack of affordable activities. Vaping, drinking and drugs. Apathy. Gender issues.

Those are some of the things Westport youngsters deal with.

How important are they to kids, and adults? The Westport Youth Commission wants to know.

They’ve developed a needs survey, broken down into elementary, middle, high school and post-high school/college ages. Anyone can take it; you can identify yourself as a student, parent with kids in schools, adult without students in schools, or a professional working with Westport youth.

The goal is to understand what the community wants, to better cater to those needs. Click here for the survey.


A multiracial, intergenerational cat of more than 60 performers — including Westporters — celebrates Martin Luther King Day every year, at Bridgeport’s Klein Auditorium.

COVID changed those plans. This year’s event next Monday (January 18, 2 p.m.) is virtual

Connect-Us — the non-profit suburban and urban partnership that provides after-school opportunities for Bridgeport youth, which sponsors the celebration, notes:

“Dr. King had a dream that inspired the world to create more harmonious, developmental, and humane communities, cities, and countries.” Each year, the Connect-Us community creates performances and writes letters to Dr. King letting him know what their dreams are — or why they don’t have dreams.

This year’s show is called “Bridgeport Has a Dream: Building Bridges Across Fairfield County.” It will be streamed for free on Facebook and the Connect-Us website. It will also be available on those platforms after the event.


And finally … today is National Kiss a Ginger Day. Unfortunately the world’s most famous ginger — Baker — died in 2019.

Pics Of The Day #952

Over 100 Staples High School students spent 3 hours last night dodging the police.

It was hard to tell who had more fun: the kids or the cops.

These dodgeball players are actually Players: Staples Players. Two days after closing “Mamma Mia,” they (and a graduated ringer) headed to the fieldhouse for the time of their lives.

The event was the annual “Dodge a Cop” dodgeball tournament. Organized by Staples’ Teen Awareness Group and the Westport Youth Commission, in collaboration with Westport’s Police Department — and held in the dodgeball-friendly fieldhouse — it raises scholarship funds for Chris Lemone’s children. The founder of TAG died 4 years ago, age 49.

Some teams were coed. This one was loaded with Staples athletes.

Nearly 2 dozen teams competed. Each included at least one police officer. Staples staff and community members served as referees.

When Dana Seymour is not a referee, she is a Staples security guard.

Despite an evening of hurling balls at each other, no arrests were reported.

Like athletes everywhere, there was some fidgeting during the national anthem …

… and then the games began. (Photos/Dan Woog)

Youth Commission’s Student Market Pops Up Saturday

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 make custom items. Others paint and bake.

This Saturday (June 8, 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 their 3rd annual  Student Creation Market.

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

  • Custom posters and stickers (Tomaso Scotti)
  • Paintings (Evie Dockray)
  • Custom dog treats (Lina Singh)
  • Limited edition custom shoes (Mitch Price)
  • Homemade terrariums (Hillary O’Neill)
  • Baked goods (Cate Casparius)
  • Creative cookies and desserts (Hailey Nusbaum)

The past 2 Student Creation Markets have drawn hundreds of attendees. Many have become huge — and continuing — customers of the young entrepreneurs.

It’s a special event — one day only.

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

Kids Dodge Cops

Over 100 Staples High School students spent 3 hours last night dodging the police.

It was hard to tell who had more fun: the kids or the cops.

This group of dodgeball players was going for the win — and the Best Costume award. (Photo/Lily Williams)

The event was the annual “Dodge a Cop” dodgeball tournament. Organized by Staples’ Teen Awareness Group and the Westport Youth Commission, in collaboration with Westport’s Police Department — and held in the dodgeball-friendly fieldhouse — it raises scholarship funds for Chris Lemone’s children. The founder of TAG died 3 years ago, age 49.

Police chief Foti Koskinas (2nd from right) joined in the fun. (Photo/Lily Williams)

Twenty-four teams competed. Each included at least one police officer. Staples staff and community members served as referees.

Staples’ popular resource officer Ed Wooldridge (far left) also joined a team. (Photo/Lily Williams)

Despite an evening of hurling balls at each other, no arrests were reported.

Lefty Pendarakis (center) gathers his team (including a police officer, right) for pre-game strategy. (Photo/Lily Williams)

Hey, girls play dodgeball too! (Photo/Lily Williams)

It wasn’t easy dodging these cops. But it sure was fun. (Photo/Westport Police Department)

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.