May 26, 2023
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
Monday, May 29, schools will be closed in recognition of Memorial Day. It is likely that the long weekend will be filled with athletic tournaments, barbecues, picnics, family, and friends—a nice welcome as we close the Month of May. Most importantly, this day is about remembering those who served our country—we ask our students to give time and thought to why our schools are closed…and of course, enjoy all the special events. A big thanks to 8th-grade students, Anahit Abernethy, Grace Pepin, and Georgia Anderson who stepped in at the last minute and sang the National Anthem at the Board of Education meeting on Monday evening. Thank you!
On the topic of holidays, we will be in school on Juneteenth. During this week's Board of Education Curriculum Committee meeting, Ms. Gillette, Dr. Tucci, and Ms. Johnson shared the District's plans to support students' understanding of this day. On Monday evening, I gave the Board of Education and the public a sneak peek of a beautiful song that will be shared with our PK-12 students in recognition of Juneteenth. “Woke Up This Morning” was created in 1961 during the civil rights movement by Reverend Robert Wesby of Aurora, Illinois. This song was inspired by a gospel song called “Woke Up This Morning with My Mind on Jesus.” This is a recording of our RHS, ERMS, and SRMS combined choir performing at the January 12 Middle/High school Choir festival alongside their choir teacher Lauren Verney-Fink.
Have a wonderful weekend, and see you on Tuesday.
Dr. Susie Da Silva
Photo Caption: Veterans Park fifth-grade student council members with RPS staff, First Selectman Rudy Marconi, and RPS parent Mike Jackson, Lieutenant Colonel in the FIrst Marine Corps District on Long Island. Mr. Jackson spoke at the Veterans Park Memorial Day Ceremony in memory of Jenny (Captain Jennifer Harris, USMC) who died fighting for our country.
More Memorial Day photos below!
The RPS Gay Straight Alliance clubs are hosting the Fourth Annual Ridgefield Pride in the Park Celebration on June 3 from noon -3:00 pm at Ballard Park. As a fundraiser for the event, they are selling Pride Perks cards for $5. The card allows the holder to receive discounts from area merchants. New offers are being added all the time. A perk that many families enjoy is the Martin Park Beach pass discount. People can order them by going to the website ridgefieldctpride.com.
NOTE: ALL GROUPS WILL MEET AT THE BOE CONFERENCE ROOM AT 90 EAST RIDGE RD.
Erin Pepin Is Paraeducator of the Year
RPS Paraeducator of the Year is Erin Pepin at Farmingville Elementary! Ms. Pepin wasn't the only one shedding tears (of joy) as Personnel Director Karen Dewing presented her with flowers, Principal Nancy Caron gave her balloons, and her students and colleagues gave her hugs. Congratulations to Erin and thank you to all the RPS paraeducators who play a vital role in our schools, classrooms, and lives.
See more photos below!
Kerin Tighe Joins RPS as Branchville Elementary Supervisor
This week, RPS announced the appointment of Kerin Tighe as the new Branchville Elementary Supervisor. Ms. Tighe, known as Keri, has worked in Westport for the past 21 years, currently as the elementary Math Coach and Principal of the Westport Extended School Year.
Ms. Tighe writes that she looks forward to bringing her experience from Westport to Ridgefield. “During my 21 years as an educator within the Westport Public Schools, I have had the privilege of working with outstanding students, collaborating with dedicated colleagues, and being part of a dynamic and nurturing educational community. I am honored and excited to continue this work at Branchville and contribute to the development of our students’ curiosity, resilience, and achievements.”
Branchville Elementary principal Keith Margolus also expressed unbridled enthusiasm over the veteran leader. “I am thrilled to welcome Ms. Tighe to the Branchville community! Throughout her career as an elementary classroom teacher, math coach, and extended school year principal, Ms. Tighe has a track record of unwavering commitment to all students and to creating communities that foster lifelong learning.”
District Priorities, AI, and Other Highlights from BOE
Kindergarten Is Under-Enrolled! Please Sign Up ASAP
Kindergarten registration for the fall of 2023 is open. Please remind your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances to register their children for kindergarten ASAP so they can take full advantage of all the orientation programs and so RPS can plan to welcome our youngest students. Parents of RPS students, please as it affects the number of classes we have and teachers we retain.
Curriculum Committee Recap
Hope in Humanity Assembly at RHS
Students Talk to Ukrainian Teens and Listen to Holocaust Survivor
"I don't wish this on anyone," said one of the Ukrainian teens during a powerful Hope in Humanity assembly for RHS sophomores on Thursday. “It’s really scary because people are dying, there are bomb shelters, sirens, and my family is going off to fight,” another teen said.
RHS junior presidents of the Interact Club, Shelly Ofer and Sima Goldberg asked the Ukrainian teens questions from RHS students via an International zoom. RHS students wanted to know about the Ukrainian’s daily lives, their mental health, and coping strategies. The teens said that they cope and find hope through streaming Harry Styles concerts, scrolling social media, and studying to prepare for a different future.
This programming is part of RHS' No Place for Hate initiative through the Anti-Defamation League, and the RHS administration worked with local organizations Ridgefield Responds and KidsKonnectUkraine to make this assembly happen. The purpose of the day is for students to understand that they can make a difference and affect change.
After the Zoom with Ukrainian peers, Holocaust survivor Judith Altmann addressed the students. As many generations of RPS students, staff, and families can attest, Ms. Altmann is a captivating witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Ms. Altmann was just 14 when the Nazis invaded her home in Czechoslovakia, killing most of her family and neighbors, and sending Ms. Altmann to a camp. At 99, Ms. Altmann sends a message of positivity, vigilance, and action to anyone lucky enough to hear her message.
After these powerful exchanges, RHS students Zoe Munoz Rojas and Hannah Gilland issued a call to action—a Human Rights Initiative. Then, students broke into groups to begin to process the many stories they heard on this day about hope, humanity, and perseverance
Security Reminder, Ethan's Law
On a recent episode of Tiger Talk, Ridgefield Public School’s new Director of Safety and Security, Josh Zabin touched on Connecticut's gun laws, including Ethan's Law and other important safety reminders. Ethan's Law, named for Ethan Song who died at 15 years old while handling a firearm at a neighbor's house, covers the safe storage of firearms and ammunition with minors in the house. Please review the law here and join RPS in keeping schools safe and secure.
Photo Caption: Kristin Song holds photo of her son, Ethan
Credit: MARK PAZNIOKAS / CTMIRROR.ORG:
Check the e-Backpack for New Flyers
In (and Out of) the Classroom
American Studs at Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty
RHS American Studies juniors toured Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Extra credit for any one who can spot two RPS Teachers of the Year.
Mandarin Students Travel to the Hammond Museum
On Monday, Yu-Wei Hsu's Mandarin students visited the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden in North Salem, New York, for a Calligraphy Demonstration and Workshop. Accomplished and experienced artist Wang Mansheng, who holds a BA in Chinese classics from prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai, gave a talk about and demonstration of the various script forms and historical background of Chinese calligraphy and the connection between calligraphy and painting in Chinese tradition. Students tried calligraphy under Mansheng's guidance with assistance from Elizabeth Hammer, executive director of the Hammond Museum, who has an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Yale University and previously worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the Chinese Paintings department of Christie's auction house. Then, students strolled the grounds and enjoyed lunch.
More photos below!
French Students Get to the MET
Question: What's better than a trip to the Metropolitan Museum on a spring day?!
Answer: A scavenger hunt about French art as part of a field trip to the MET on a spring day.
French students enjoyed a trip to the world-famous museum, a scavenger hunt, and some saw the new Van Gogh exhibition.
East Ridge Celebrates the Culture of India
Last Friday, East Ridge sixth graders celebrated the end of a unit on India with a cultural celebration. Social studies teacher Andrea Donigian reports, "Multiple parents visited East Ridge classes and shared their culture in engaging ways. Students participated in dancing, yoga, dressing up in Indian attire, making mandalas, traveling to India via VR, learning about India's rich history, and hearing personal stories of what life is like in India today. It was a wonderful opportunity for students to look outside Ridgefield and consider the global community!"
Students Engineer Playgrounds to Teach Science, Communication, and Compassion
Ridgebury library and media specialist Ellen Paradiso reports that second graders in Elizabeth Crabbe, Toni Murdock, and Chris Kane's classes learned about phases of matter in Integrated Studies. Students then visited the library and makerspace to design models of teaching playgrounds where children could learn about solids, liquids, and gases. Using the Engineering Design Process, students empathized with potential playground users of all abilities, brainstormed and narrowed down their ideas, constructed and adjusted their models, reflected on the process on Flipgrid, then presented their designs to first graders at our Matter Matters playground fair! One visitor was overheard saying, "I wish your playground was real so I could play on it!"
The HeARTS of RPS
RHS Literary Magazine Brings Art and Words Together
Lodestar, RHS's literary magazine hit the shelves and email inboxes this week. One of the editors, Damien Pichardo explained the year-long process he and his three co-editors,
Hannah Caudill, Sophie Shen, and Gabriel Uceda-Sosa, go through to select some of RHS's most creative work. Every week, the Lodestar editorial team meets to consider work submitted. Some work they return to students asking them to make changes, some submissions the editors reject, and some they select right away. Then, at the end of the year, they match selected writing with selected art to make for a visual feast. Please view Lodestar here. To receive a print version for $5, please reach out to faculty advisors, Tara Ceresa or Kevin Higgins. Congratulations to all the students selected, especially prize-winners Hudson Podielsky, Sophie Shen, and Hannah Levine:
Juliette AxenHarrison Beckenstein
Hannah Levine (Winner of the Allard Labin Award)
Hudson Podielsky (Winner of the Laviano Award)
Sophie Shen (Winner of the Robert Cox Award)
Hello, Halo, Halo!
The Halo Award Nominations are in: Please see individual, dynamic duo, and ensemble nominations for the two RHS plays below. The ceremony will take place at the end of May. Break a leg, RHS.
2022 Fall Production - The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940
-Best Performance by a Cast in an Ensemble Production
-Best Male Standout Performance: Lloyd Mills
-Best Performance by a Couple or Dynamic Duo in a Play: Lloyd Mills & Frankie Belden
-Best Comic Female Performance in a Play: Evie Briody
-Best Stage Management: Asterix Lombardo
-Best Incidental or Original Music in a Play: Nate Cohen
-Best Program Art: Ryan O'Connor
-Best Scenic Design and/or Execution: Frankie Belden, Martha Huitron, Shelby Lewis, Kate Llanos, Asterix Lombardo, Lloyd Mills , Leyna Preston, Elizabeth Rogers, Elisabet Sigurdsson
2023 Spring Musical - Into the Woods
-Best Contemporary Musical
-Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical: Nate Cohen
-Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Musical: Millie Altopp
-Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Musical: Lloyd Mills
-Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical: Dean Trevisani
-Best Performance by a Couple or Dynamic Duo in a Musical: Nate Cohen and Millie Altopp
-Best Comic Male Performance in a Musical: Hudson Podielsky
-Best Comic Female Performance in a Musical: Abigail Black
-Best Hair and/or Makeup Design and/or Execution: Ella Sigurdsson and Shelby Lewis
-Best Sound Design and/or Execution: Caroline DelGiudice , Lauren Ciuffetelli, Kaite Estabrook, Kayla Jacobowitz, Lachlan Maloney, Angelina McCue
-Best Props Design and/or Management: Shelby Lewis and Asterix Lombardo
-Best Running Crew
OMG! Branchville and Farmingville Art Shows
Above are just a few of the great photos from the Branchville Elementary Art Show. Thank you to art teacher Jennifer Zeyer (sporting the Converse, beret, and Mona Lisa socks in the upper right photo) for putting on an amazing showcase of student talent.
Beyond the Classroom
Sophomores Play "College Admission" Game
This quarter, RHS sophomores have been meeting with school counselors to explore how their interests can influence future career options and college majors. Today's seminar helped students understand what factors influence a college admissions decision. Students played a game where the front of their card had a potential candidates's GPA and the back had additional information about their extracurricular activities, athletic involvement, family circumstances, and academic history. Students were challenged to decide what they thought mattered most to a college. Throughout this activity, they learned that there is more to an application than their grades...and they got to enjoy a beautiful day.
A Good Investment...RHS!
Is it considered insider trading if we tell you to invest in RHS? Business teacher Kelly Predham reports that students participated in a Stock Market Competition against all high schools in Connecticut. Out of the 600 teams competing, RHS won first and second place!
First Place Winners:
2nd Place Winners:
RHS Senior Earns Tri-State Scholarship
Adapted from Tri-State Press Release
RHS Senior Devon Noonan is one of the first recipients of the Kathleen Reilly Tri-State Consortium Scholarship. This scholarship, established to honor Kathleen Reilly's remarkable 25-year tenure as the Director of Training for the Consortium, recognizes Devon's exceptional achievements, dedication, and community involvement. We are confident that Devon has a bright future ahead in the field of education, and we extend our warmest wishes to her.
Devon was honored during the Tri-State Consortium's annual Spring Conference, held on Monday, May 22, at UConn-Stamford. This significant event provided a fitting platform to celebrate Devon's accomplishments among esteemed educators and professionals from the region.
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Kathleen Reilly for her extraordinary contributions to the Tri-State Consortium over the past quarter-century. Through her tireless efforts, she has made a lasting impact on the lives of countless students and educators, leaving behind a remarkable legacy in the field of education.
Photo Caption (left to right): Mackenzie Noonan (Devon’s sister), Maureen Noonan (Devon’s Mom), Devon Noonan, and Dr. Kevin Smith (Wilton Superintendent of Schools)
The Logan Bowl: Gaming for Good
RHS Teacher Is Climate Science Education Leader
Recently, SoundWaters hosted an important panel discussion about implementing climate science education in Connecticut’s public schools. Moderated by Ira Flatow, host of NPR’s Science Friday, a panel of education leaders, including RHS science teacher Arlyn Kilduff addressed the benefits and challenges of preparing the next generation to understand and take on the challenges they will face globally from a rapidly changing climate.
Photos from the Week
Town-Wide Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Park
Veterans Park welcomed back veterans, retired staff, senior interns (many of whom were Veterans Park students), parents, and town officials for its annual Memorial Day Ceremony. RHS Valedictorian Ryan Williams addressed the crowd with a speech written by fellow senior Skylar Kleinman. The speech asked the students to think about democracy and sacrifice as they walk in the Memorial Day parade, barbecue, swim, and enjoy a day off with friends and family. Each grade sang a patriotic song, including Ray Charles's classic Fifty Nifty United States. RPS parent Mike Jackson, Lieutenant Colonel in the FIrst Marine Corps District on Long Island spoke in memory of Jenny (Captain Jennifer Harris, USMC) who died fighting for our country.
I'm Not Crying...
Here are some more photos from the announcement of the RPS Paraprofessional of the Year, Erin Pepin of Farmingville Elementary.
The Finland Five
Teachers and administrators who spent the April break touring Finland presented to Sacred Heart University teacher leader program. Left to right, Scotts Ridge English teacher Jen Bray, Director of Elementary Education Linda Johnson, Assistant Superintendent Cory Gillette, Scotts Ridge science teacher Charlsie Vanderrest, and Veterans Park music teacher Ryan Dunne.