Tuesday, December 07, 2021

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Education

For Staples Students, An Unprecedented Challenge

By Jarret Liotta

Though they’re all being forced to literally live separate lives, the junior class of Staples High School is likewise sharing a life-changing experience, coming of age in a uniquely different world.

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Adam Kane, 16, a Staples junior, is coping well, enjoying time with his family, but really misses direct social action. Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

“It’s definitely been unique,” said Adam Kane, 16, who’s seen the plug pulled on his social and athletic activities and, like his classmates, is learning to make due with a range of changes.

At first it seemed like it was going to be a fun, short-lived experience that began with the closing of Westport schools last month, he said.

“Kids were so excited,” Adam said, at first expecting a sort of out-and-out vacation, replete with lots of good times together.

Staples Names Students of the Month

Staples Principal Stafford W. Thomas, Jr. has announced Staples High School’s recipients for April’s Student of the Month:

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Honored students: (top, l-r) Anna Dorio, Jared Leonard, George Nelson (bottom) Sydney Newman, Sidney Seide, Lilly Sutter. Contributed photos

Lilly Sutter, Grade 10; George Nelson, Grade 12; Sidney Seide, Grade 11; Anna Diorio, Grade 9; Jared Leonard, Grade 10, and Sydney Newman, Grade 11.

The Students of the Month award program recognizes students who help make Staples a welcoming place for their peers and teachers alike. 

Students of the month are nominated by their teachers, who are asked to think of those students who come to school regularly, are friendly to the staff and to fellow students, and make positive contributions in class as well as the Staples community.

Awards for Bedford Student Writers

Two Bedford Middle School Students have won awards in this year’s Connecticut Student Writer Contest, sponsored by the Connecticut Writing Project at UCONN.

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Bedford winners: Alexia Ninios (l) and Samantha Henske (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photos

Seventh Grader Samantha Henske won the top prize of Platinum in the Fiction category for her piece, “Life in a Different Key,” the story of a teenage girl trying to find herself when she is suddenly transplanted to a foreign country after the death of her mother.

As the Platinum winner, Samantha’s story will be published in this year’s Connecticut Student Writer’s magazine.

Another seventh grader, Alexia Ninios, was the Gold Award winner, or first runner-up, in Fiction for her piece “The Traffickers,” a chilling cyber-suspense story.

Broadway Star Showcases High School Performers

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Broadway star and Westport mom Kelli O’Hara tonight hosted a one-hour, 45-minute Westport Country Playhouse streaming event showcasing 10 area high school students performing musical selections. Among them was Camille Foisie, 16, of Staples High School. O’Hara said she enjoyed it so much she hoped to do it again and ventured that perhaps a prom could be held with the singers. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Screen grab from YouTube.com

Staples Tuition Grants Launches COVID-19 Community Challenge

The Staples Tuition Grants has partnered with a small group of anonymous donors and launched the STG COVID-19 Community Challenge.

So far, it has raised more than $75,000 towards its $100,000 goal, an announcement said.

“These funds will be used to supplement this year’s grant allocation to students who applied for needs-based assistance from STG,” it said.

“Westport has a number of families who struggle to close the gap between the high cost of post-high school education and what they can afford. For more information or to donate, click HERE.

Student Artists Sought for Westport Calendar

Students stuck at home now have the opportunity to tap their artistic talents for the 2020-21 Westport School Arts Calendar, the Westport Public Art Collections (WestPAC) and Friends of WestPAC announced.

Digital submissions are open to kindergartners through twelfth graders.

“Looking for an art activity to do while safe at home?” the WestPAC announcement says. “How about creating some art or share something you’ve already painted, drawn, photographed or digitally created for the 2020-21 Westport School Art Calendar?”

The calendar, produced by Friends of WestPAC and sanctioned by the school system, is sold to parents and residents around town, the proceeds going to WestPAC’s displays and care for original artworks in school and town buildings.

BOE Refuses to Reopen School Start Time Debate

By Jarret Liotta

Despite a petition to get the issue back on its agenda, the Board of Education (BOE) Monday night roundly rejected a request by a parent to consider reopening the discussion on school start time.

On Feb. 10 the BOE voted to push school start times back 30 minutes, primarily to allow teenage students more early morning sleep in respect to their unique physiological needs — something districts around the world have been exploring.

But even after a School Start Time Committee (SSTC), composed of parents and educators, spent more than two years drawing up a unanimous recommendation to the BOE, a number of parents and educators of elementary-age children raised objections to the decision, saying their needs weren’t adequately considered and that the board didn’t properly vet the matter.

“Over 500 voters signed a petition that is not in favor of delayed elementary and middle school start time,” parent Joe Nader wrote in a request to have the matter placed back on an upcoming BOE agenda so it could consider reversing its 5-to-2 decision.

CMS Opening Now Likely Delayed

By Jarret Liotta

There will very likely be a delay in reopening Coleytown Middle School (CMS), Don O’Day, chair of the CMS Building Committee, told the Board of Education (BOE) tonight.

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Virus impacts construction schedule. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The management group, Newfield Construction, will be providing his committee with a revised timetable the first week of May, but O’Day said he was anticipating it might be at least Oct. 1 before students can return to CMS.

“My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that the delay could be a month, could be a little bit more, but not multiple months,” he said.

The BOE is now faced with deciding whether to schedule a move-in deadline for CMS staff and students, assuming the building does become inhabitable this fall, or whether it should plan on having all of Westport’s middle school students remain at Bedford Middle School (BMS) for another full year.

Lamont: Schools Closed at Least to May 20

Gov. Ned Lamont announced today that the state’s public schools, restaurants and bars will remain closed through at least May 20.

“May 20 will be the earliest to reconsider opening,” Lamont said. “Even though we are seeing a little bit of good news ... I don’t want us to get complacent and I wouldn’t be surprised if that May 20 date extends as well.”

Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said officials were planning for a closure that could last the remainder of the school year.

“We know we may need to cancel classes for the remainder of the year and, while we’re not announcing that today, we are planning for the worst case scenario,” Cardona said.

Despite Closures, School Fall Registration Underway

The Westport Public School today reminded parents that despite closures, registration for new students in currently underway for the 2020-21 academic year.

“As we navigate the ongoing challenges associated with the COVID-19 crisis during the 2019-2020 school year, the district continues its planning for the 2020-21 school year,” said John Bayers, the schools’ director of human resources and general administration.

“A crucial aspect of this work is registering new students, particularly those entering kindergarten on Sept. 1, 2020. “

Bayers stressed that even with the closure of school offices, secretaries and administrators can still process incoming student registrations.