GPS District Digest (v4, i18)
Stories, news, and updates from Greenwich Public Schools
We Won't Step on Your Toes
All of us in the newsroom would like to welcome back all of our loyal readers, along with everyone else in the GPS community for this, a very special issue of the GPS District Digest [applause please].
Why is Issue No. 18 so special? Is it because we need to remind you that time is running out to complete your GPS Family Survey? It should take just five minutes to complete, so let's go! What are you waiting for? Don't you want your voice to be heard? Judging from all of the great feedback we receive at the Digest, we know you do! And we know you love to ask questions.
The survey covers home/school connection, school fit, school safety, and student experience. You should have received an email with the subject line “Greenwich Public Schools Family Survey” from Superintendent Dr. Jones, via k12insightllc.
Let's get back to regular scheduled programming. This issue of the Digest is LOADED with all good things GPS. All good things are busting at the seams. Student achievement, staff accomplishments, and smiling faces of happy well-fed students are all over this issue. If those things do not fill you with community pride, the Digest is not for you. This is what we have to offer you.
To conclude, we have one question and one question only. Where's Winston?
Enjoy issue No. 18. Tell a friend!
GPS District Digest
Where were you on October 24, 1985? If you were a teacher at Greenwich Public Schools, maybe you attended the very first Distinguished Teachers Awards Ceremony. And to think, 38 years later, you could have also been at Central Middle School on May 4 celebrating six more teachers.
It truly is an amazing tradition that all GPS District Digest loyal readers should be a part of, whether it is nominating your favorite educator or cheering on the awardees at the May ceremony.
This year, New Lebanon’s Erin John, Western MS’ Gaspare Lipari, Central MS’ Aaron Lofaro, Greenwich HS’ Joan O’Day, New Lebanon’s Carol Pugliano-Martin, and Central MS’ Maria Woodward were honored.
We invite you to watch, or rewatch, the ceremony on the District's YouTube channel and come by next year! It's a gas.
It is never too early to start working on nominations for next year.
I Gave a Letter to the Postman
Over at the University of Connecticut, the Neag School of Education, its Department of English, and the Connecticut Writing Project (CWP), co-sponsored the 30th annual Letters About Literature contest and recently announced the winners for the 2022-23 academic year.
Students in grades 4-12 were invited to read a text, broadly defined, and write a letter to the author (living or dead) about how the text affected them personally. Submissions were grouped according to grade level (grades 4-6, grades 7-8, and grades 9-12).
Parkway School's ALP teacher, Ms. Kate Miserocchi, alerted us that four fifth graders participated. 2023 GPS Community Service Award representative Mary Stowe wrote to Alan Gratz about "Ground Zero," and Maria B. Salvarredi wrote to Sharon Draper about "Out of My Mind" received honorable mentions. 2023 Community Service Award representative Ryan Chass wrote to Rick Riordan about "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," received a Silver medal. Oliver Bjerke also made a tremendous effort writing to Alan Gratz about "Refugee."
They submitted letters to authors of great interest to them and were included in the Level 1 submissions. Each of them will receive a certificate acknowledging their work.
In addition, GHS senior and 2023 GPS Community Service Award winner Erin McKay took away the top prize for Level III (Grades 9-12) for her letter to Joan Didion about "Slouching Towards Bethlehem."
For more information and a complete list of awardees, head to the University of Connecticut's website dedicated to this contest.
Last week, GPS welcomed three principals who will be joining their respective schools beginning on July 1. Everyone here at the Digest is delighted to welcome Mr. Marc Guarino to Eastern Middle School, Dr. Daniel Russo to New Lebanon School, and Dr. PJ Wax to Western Middle School. You are encouraged to read their impressive credentials located in the announcements on the GPS website.
The only thing we like in the Digest newsroom more than writing about food, is eating food. Food Services Director Mr. Dave Nanarello never disappoints with photos of smiling faces.
In this issue, Mr. Nanarello takes us into Glenville School with Lead Cook Sandy Bozzuto and Food Service Worker Christine Casuto. On this day, they served up whole grain chicken tenders, oven baked crinkle cut French fries, and unlimited fresh fruits and veggies.
As always, Mr. Nanarello encourages families to use the Food Service Department as a resource in setting up lunch accounts, navigating menus, and of course, any allergy concerns. He also reminds us that universal free lunch has returned through the end of the school year. Reach out anytime!
A Bulletin Board of Smiles
Eastern Middle School's Media Assistant Ms. Janet Ginise recently checked in with the GPS District Digest to make us aware that it is National Smile Month! Who knew? Not us, until now.
She shared EMS' bulletin board created by three of their talented eighth grade students: Kai McGeary, Nora Stern, and Lily Weaver. As you can see, the board includes a variety of jokes, pictures, and stuff that makes you smile.
Ms. Ginise tells the Digest exclusively that the bulletin board is a big success, enabling students and staff to walk by and smile. 👍
Art is Long, Life is...
The Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (CT COLT) recently announced the winners of the 2023 CT COLT Artwork Contest and Greenwich High School brought their amazing creativity to the table.
The competition is a wonderful way to promote the study of world languages and encourage students to share their enthusiasm with peers throughout Connecticut. This contest is open to students K-12 and includes a wide variety of mediums to encourage student creativity and participation. CT COLT members submit selected student artwork that incorporates the chosen yearly theme, "Discovering the Joy of World Languages."
The Cardinals ran the table in the 3D category with Hilary Gouvea e Silva taking first place (teacher Ms. Lisa Fancher), Zabita Syangbo finishing second (teacher Ms. Ann Anderson) and Maddie Driscoll (teacher Ms. Fancher) and Mary Carmen Carrera (teacher Ms. Anderson) tying for third place.
In the Dynamic Digital category, Dedra Annakie (teacher Ms. Dana Romanello-Flynn) took first place and Emm Maasbach (teacher Ms. Fancher) finished second.
In the Still Digital category, Sarah Boside (teacher Ms. Romanello-Flynn) finished third.
...And I Didn't Even Know It
Do you know GHS junior Ziyi Yan? She is an accomplished poet, and we didn't even know it.
Recently, Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development announced the 2023 State of Connecticut Youth Poet Laureate and our very own Ziyi was a state runner up. She also tells us that she earned second place in the Connecticut Office of the Arts "Poetry Ourselves" contest for slam poetry and creative writing.
But wait, there is more!
She started her own magazine last summer called "The Dawn Review" during her time at the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. On her site, a team recently reviewed over 500 submissions for the site's "The Dawn Prize" for poetry, a new annual contest for emerging writers
Read more about Ziyi Yan on her website or read one of her favorite works, "moving/dream."
May the 4th
No one celebrates May the 4th like Principal Gavin at Cos Cob School. That is it. We have nothing else to add.
More Postcards Headed Our Way
GHS Social Studies Teacher Mr. Joe Williamson is one of 16 teachers from across the United States to be selected for participation in a Fulbright-Hays Teacher Fellowship in Brazil and Argentina this summer.
The Fulbright program is administered by the Bureau of Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State and sponsors scholarship and exchange programs for students and educators.
For five weeks, teachers will travel to cities and regions throughout the two countries to study its history, culture, geography, and education systems. During that time, the teachers will develop lessons and curricula to be implemented in their classrooms upon their return.
"I am looking forward to learning about a part of the world where I have never been," Mr. Williamson said, who is a graduate of Greenwich High School and has taught there since 2015. "This experience will greatly enhance my teaching about these countries and will help me better understand and support my students who come from there."
We have a feeling that the Digest’s postcard collection will grow by leaps and bounds this summer.
Did you thank your school nurse on May 10 on National School Nurse Day? The folks in the newsroom at the Digest called the District's Supervisor School Health Nurse Mary Keller first thing in the morning, expressing gratitude for all she does for our community!
Since 1972, National School Nurse Day has been set aside to recognize school nurses and was established to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.
We hope that next year, some of our amazing nurses will not be so camera shy!
And Even More Ambika News!
GHS Senior Ambika Grover was named a 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholar, one of the nation’s highest honors for a graduating high school senior.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. The Scholars represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in young people. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars.
In a press release, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said, “I am so proud of Ambika and Lukas [Lukas Koutsoukos of Wilton High School] on being named U.S. Presidential Scholars and receiving this extraordinary national recognition in acknowledgement of everything they’ve achieved in their academic careers. They represent some of the very best of Connecticut, and I applaud their perseverance and drive. Connecticut is home to some of the best schools in the nation, and that is due in large part to the incredible teachers and faculty we have in our state who dedicate themselves to providing our students with the highest-quality education possible.”
Ambika is the third U.S. President Scholar from Greenwich High School in the last four years, but only the fifth overall since 2003, joining William Yin (2017), Michelle Woo (2018), Cynthia Chen (2020), and Colin B. Speaker (2021).
“Ambika is an impressive and accomplished young woman who represents all that Greenwich High School offers,” GHS Principal Ralph Mayo said. “To be awarded this highest nationwide honor is a true testament to her hard work, dedication, and determination that permeates throughout our building. Not only am I extremely proud of Ambika and her many achievements during her time at GHS, but speaking on behalf of every GPS teacher, administrator, and staff member from her time in kindergarten through today that has helped her along the way, we are overjoyed and honored to be a part of her educational journey.”
Ambika, along with the 160 other U.S Presidential Scholars, will be honored for her accomplishments during the online National Recognition Program and awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion in June.
Welcome Mr. Steven Groccia!
Recently, GPS announced Mr. Steven Groccia was appointed as assistant principal at Cos Cob School, effective July 1. Mr. Groccia will support the entire Cos Cob community, assisting in the development and achievement of school goals and objectives, while advocating on behalf of all students.
“Steven Groccia is a highly qualified school administrator who will be a great addition to the Cos Cob School team,” Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones said. “We offer our deepest gratitude to Ms. Karen Vitti who, with tremendous dedication and commitment, has been on special assignment to cover the assistant principal role since September.”
Mr. Groccia comes to GPS from Consolidated and Meeting House Hill School in New Fairfield where he currently serves as an elementary assistant principal. While there, Mr. Groccia has been instrumental in helping to guide the smooth transition of a newly constructed school building supporting over 950 students in grades PreK-5 and more than 150 certified and non-certified staff members. He is known to be an outstanding instructional leader, having taught early childhood and upper elementary grades, while also chairing Special Education Planning and Placement Teams (PPT) and 504 meetings.
For more information on his background, head to the GPS website to read the entire press release.
The Mall Has it All
Congratulations to the Greenwich High School team that participated in New York Federal Reserve Bank's "High School Fed Challenge." The Cardinals' work has been selected as one of just 12 to be published in the 2023 issue of the Journal of Future Economists.
The High School Fed Challenge offers the opportunity for students to develop skills in teamwork, research, data literacy, and analytical writing by creating a podcast script. It is an educational program that aims to encourage students in grades 9-12 to learn more about economics and promote interest in economics as a subject for study and the basis for a career. Previous study of economics is not required, only intellectual curiosity and interest in exploring an economic theme.
This year's competition theme was, "Economics of Globalization," and GHS' submitted work was entitled, "It’s a (s)Mall World: Globalization, E-Commerce, and Shopping Malls."
The GHS Economics Club students that worked together on the podcast script included seniors Elliott Gordon, Ambika Grover, Charles Andrew Miranda, and Nicole Orlofsky and juniors Ryan Kaufman, Cindy Li, Maximillian Lu, and Amrutha Nandakumar.
The History Club Impresses Again
Do you remember reading about the Connecticut History Day Competition back in Issue No. 14 of the Digest? We told you about two student groups from the GHS National History Club finishing in the top spots in the Fairfield Regional competition and were advancing to the statewide round this month at Central Connecticut State University.
On May 8, it was announced that the team of (pictured below, l to r) Nicole Orlofsky, Charles Andrew Miranda, Avery Imp, Jane Stempien, and Hanna Klingbeil who took second place in the Senior Division's group documentary category for their work, "Women's Fashion in World War II: A Frontier in Female Identity School."
We know that our loyal readers watched the doc back in March, but go ahead, watch it again!
With the support of the Greenwich Alliance for Education, students in the GHS eSports Club are thriving in the world of competitive gaming.
The eSports Club was spearheaded by three sophomore students in 2018 who wanted to have a formal program at GHS that supported competitive gaming and that was sanctioned by the Student Activities Office.
An advantage of having an organized club is that after tournaments, Club Advisor Mr. Richard Baxley coaches students to review their games and shares insights on how to practice to improve outcomes. He works with students to manage disappointments and creates a safe space for the students to be gaming.
Mr. Baxley recently shared some photos and playoff news regarding the three different eSports games that are endorsed by CIAC: Smash Bros Ultimate, Rocket League, and League of Legends.
Be sure to reach out to them for more information.
Around the GPS Twittersphere 📱
Did you hear the amazing news? Our Twitter account, @GPSDistrict, recently surpassed 2k loyal followers. Are you one of them? If not, you should be, but only if you are one of our families, students, staff, or community members that want to see all of the good things happening around the District. No negativity from us!
On social media, we will keep our community informed of breaking news and all good things GPS. We love to show you some of our favorite posts from around the GPS Twittersphere. Do you have a favorite social media account? Let us know!
To Our Readers...
- Does your dog just saunter through a photoshoot like it's all about him? Winston is one such canine. He is a good boy, so let's play Where's Winston? It is a game sweeping Greenwich. Look for the most confident American foxhound because he is somewhere, maybe where he should not be, in this newsletter! That was fun. That was easy.
- Have you figured out that the first headline of each issue of the Digest this year contains a body part? Really, go back and check, but do not step on our toes.
- If you have a great story or photograph to share from our schools inside the District, alert the good folks in the GPS District Digest newsroom. We want to know!
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- Katherine? We love hearing from you. Thanks for reading!
- Why do we show Karen and Linda this much love? It is because they are awesome.
- Is this the first time you read the newsletter until the very end?
Location: 290 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT, USA
Phone: (203) 625-7415