Saturday, October 23, 2021

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Muktavaram Retires from BOE

By Jarret Liotta

Republican Vik Muktavaram announced his retirement from the Board of Education (BOE) tonight after four-and-a-half years.

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Vik Muktavaram: thanked his “comrades in arms”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

Muktavaram, who told colleagues he had increasing work commitments, was appointed to the BOE in February 2016 to fill a seat vacated by Paul Block. He ran for the seat and won in November last year.

“It’s a sad day, Vik,” said BOE member Karen Kleine. “I’m going to miss you.”

“I think you left your mark on this board and it’s going to be tough to fill your shoes,” she said.

Roadmap Issued for Reopening Schools

By Jim Welch

www.ctmirror.org

UPDATE The state released requirements and guidance today for local districts to open schools this fall as hospitalizations in the state due to COVID-19 fell under 100 for the first time in months.

The Department of Education released its plan Thursday to return students to schools this fall with an option for parents and guardians to choose to keep students home temporarily. The state introduced the possibility to rehire retired teachers and teachers who voluntarily identify as “high risk” or have other health concerns to lead continued distance learning programs.

Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said today at a virtual news conference with Gov. Ned Lamont that the state education plan leaves many decisions with local school boards, superintendents and school principals.

“We know that one approach is not always best in all communities so we are listening to how districts consider this and trying to share best practices there to mitigate not only the distance learning and not only making sure that children can learn remotely but also balancing the responsibilities of teachers who will also have students in front of them“ Cardona said at the news conference,

State Officials: Schools to Reopen in Fall

Public schools in Connecticut will fully reopen in the fall with costly new safety measures, including full-time mask-wearing and smaller classrooms, state officials announced today.

Gov. Ned Lamont and state Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said the return to school will come with drastic changes to the classroom environment.

Districts will likely have to hire more teachers to reduce class sizes in order to maintain 6 feet of separation between students. Classrooms might move outside or into spaces like a gymnasium retrofitted to accommodate social distancing.

Lunch in the cafeteria will be a thing of the past, with students eating in their classrooms or outdoors.

Distance Learning Survey Discussed

By Jarret Liotta

Getting the youngest students back into school first for live learning could become the priority if even a partial opening becomes possible in the fall.

Tonight, Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, presented results of a districtwide survey to the Board of Education (BOE) on how last spring’s distance-learning experience was viewed by parents, teachers and students.

More than 2,000 families responded to the survey, which Buono said was geared toward getting feedback on how to improve distance learning, as it will likely be at least partially necessary in the fall.

There were also 1,425 students in grades 4 through 12 that shared their opinions in the survey, as well as 210 Westport teachers.

Woman’s Club Awards Scholarships

The Westport Woman’s Club has announced it is awarding college scholarships totaling $40,000 to deserving Staples High School seniors who are graduating this spring. 

Awardees and their chosen college:

Tamikah Boyer (University of New Haven, “Emily Duvoisin” Scholarship),
Nicole Caiati (Georgia State University),
Victoria Caiati (Marist College),
Alyssa Chariot (Penn State University),
Anna Fuori (Penn State University, “Emily Fuller” Scholarship),
Audrey Kramer (California Polytechnic State University),
Ian Kramer (Penn State University),
Katherine Meszaros (College of the Holy Cross, “Lea Ruegg” Scholarship),
Niyhive Michel (Morgan State University)
and Tomaso Scotti (University of CT), who was awarded the “Most Active Member” Scholarship in honor of this year’s most active WWC member, Mira Auxier.

The Westport Woman’s Club, organized in 1907, is a nonprofit philanthropic organization dedicated to volunteerism and the raising of funds in support of the educational, charitable, cultural and public health services in Westport and surrounding towns. 

One does not have to be a Westport resident to join The Westport Woman’s Club.  To join, call the WWC office at 203-227-4240.

Disappointment Then Praise for SHS Graduation Ceremony

By Jarret Liotta

There was some initial disappointment when it looked like the shutdown and subsequent restrictions generated by the pandemic looked to squash hopes for a traditional graduation ceremony for Staples High School (SHS).

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Sammy D’Anna got a rousing car ride from her family, as well as from relatives along the Staples graduation parade route. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

Yet as one graduate so acutely stated, maybe it’s been something of a blessing in disguise.

“It’s never a bad thing when you’re the least traditional ceremony to graduate,” said Roxy Augeri, 18, who is bound for Ithaca College in the fall to study communications.

Augeri was one of the first students in line when the first leg of the graduation parade of cars assembled on Hyde Lane

Making Staples Commencement ‘Fun and Creative’ Amid COVID

By James Lomuscio

Forget the red carpet. This one was blue and framed with white hydrangeas, the school colors.

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Staples class of 2020 graduates were escorted to the ceremony by family members. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

In a historic first, Staples High School’s Class of 2020’s 133rd commencement today amid the COVID-19 shutdown celebrated its 437 graduates outdoors in a way that was, well, distinctly Westport.

With the pomp and ceremony of police escort and under crisp azure skies, the first four graduates in cap and gown and holding their diplomas arrived at 10 a.m. driven to the front of the school by their parents in colorfully festooned vehicles.

“Let’s roll seniors,” said an elated Principal Stafford Thomas when the first four cars arrived.

Staples Students Return Books

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Staples High School sophomores (rising juniors) today returned school books used in conjunction with online classroom courses conducted during the stay-at-home months of COVID-19 pandemic. Sophomore Jessica Qi (foreground) was among those turning them in. According to Staples Assistant Principal, Chase Dunlap, juniors and seniors returned their books earlier in the week. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com