GPS District Digest (v5, i1)
Stories, news, and updates from Greenwich Public Schools
Here I Go Again
Guess who's back? The newsletter that you all have come to love and enjoy has returned for another school year at Greenwich Public Schools. It is a source for good news and a place to have just a little fun while you dive into your soup or sandwich every other Thursday at lunchtime.
We feature student achievements, school productions, and staff successes. Sometimes we throw in obscure movie quotes, pop culture references or slide in a song lyric where you least expect it. It is your new happy place, your safe space, for all good things GPS.
We get our leads mostly from you, our loyal readers. Want to see a story or give a shoutout in a future issue? You should just ask! Feedback? We love it.
Now, please know that we sent issue No. 1 to all families of students at GPS, but that will not always be the case. If you want to make sure you do not miss a single issue of this Greenwich goodness, make sure you subscribe online.
Have fun, be safe, and have a great 2023-2024 school year.
Enjoy Issue No. 1 and thank you for your support.
GPS District Digest
And the Emmy Goes To...
The Digest received some great news from Hortulus of Greenwich recently when they named our very own, Mr. Robert Conlan, a 2023 Emmy Ogden Mentoring Award winner for demonstrating outstanding mentorship by inspiring love for nature, fostering creativity, and displaying generosity of spirit. Mr. Conlan is a Greenwich High School science teacher with more than two decades of experience in AP biology, AP environmental science, marine biology, and biology.
“Bob has been leading by example and mentoring students for more than 20 years," Hortulus members Claire Werner O'Brien and Jeanine Behr collectively said. "Mr. Conlan goes beyond his classroom to show his students the impacts human actions have on the planet. He challenges his students to think about how they impact the environment, how they can affect positive change through speaking up, innovating solutions, and just by caring about each other and their community's and planet's health. Bob has fostered hundreds of budding biologists, community activists and scientists during his tenure at Greenwich High School."
Hortulus is an organization that stimulates the knowledge and love of gardening and creative design; to protect, restore and improve the quality of the environment through education, programs and action in the fields of conservation and civic improvement. For more information about Emmy Ogden and the award named after her, head to Hortulus' website.
Good Eats 2023
Get to know Food Services Director Mr. Dave Nanarello; here at the Digest we consider him a BFF. Each issue he gives us all an inside look at mealtime in our schools. His photos will make you smile from ear to ear, but if you do not, maybe the GPS District Digest is not for you.
Last week, Mr. Nanarello was on hand at GHS' ninth grade orientation and the Cardinal Café was open for business. Those hungry freshman were eager to try the fresh pizza station, Boar's Head deli counter, and tempura chicken with oven-baked French fries. As always, unlimited fresh fruit and veggies, milk and juices were available.
Also, the Connecticut State Department of Education has advised us that breakfast will be available for all students during the 2023-2024 school year free of charge. You are encouraged to visit the Food Services webpage to check if your children are eligible to receive free or reduced lunch. New for this school year, those families who qualify for “reduced” meal pricing will now be provided school lunch meals at no charge. Please complete the 2023-24 Application for Free and Reduced-price School Meals and addendum forms found on the Food Services webpage and submit them to your school’s main office.
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 breakfast is available. Reach out anytime!
Is a Nobel Next for Naomi?
Naomi Park. If you do not know that name yet, you will. She is a senior at Greenwich High School with a long list of achievements that the Digest loves to write about. Did you miss Issue No. 20 of the Digest last year? She is in there.
Most recently, we were alerted that Naomi won the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. This is at the same affair where the Nobel Prize for Water Research was awarded.
We encourage you all to read her interview regarding her scientific research where she addresses many facets of ocean pollution. In her research, Naomi developed a method where she would chemically alter Styrofoam waste into a unique sponge, that when placed in a floatation device on top of the ocean, can simultaneously remove both carbon dioxide and soluble oil contaminants.
And skip to the 1:08:00 mark of the video to see this amazing announcement. You will not want to miss it.
Turn Back the Clock 🕰️
All loyal Digest readers know how much we in the newsroom love antique postcards. We collect them, write about them, and admire them. We keep our researchers busy. The latest "Turn Back the Clock" involves this amazing Havemeyer School card, postmarked February 3, 1912, received by 14-year-old Newtown resident, Gordon Gale, from his self-proclaimed little friend, Corbett, a student in Greenwich.
While we do not know much about Corbett, we do know that Gordon lived what most would consider a full life until his passing on August 1, 1994 at the age of 96. Born in Calais, VT in 1898, Gordon spent much of his childhood in Fairfield County and much of his adulthood in the Danielson and Killingly areas of Windham County as a newspaper copy editor for The Transcript.
Gordon would spend 22 days in the U.S. Army, enlisting on November 1, 1918 and quickly discharged on November 23. Extra credit to those American history buffs that give us their best guess why his service was so short.
Gordon and his wife of 75 years, Dorothy, had three children: Barbara, Witson, and Gertrude. Gordon and Dorothy's final resting place is in Westfield Cemetery in Danielson.
We would like to thank Corbett for his correspondence and Gordon for his sentimentality by holding onto this postcard for so many decades. Do you know Corbett or Gordon? Let us know!
And while the stack of postcards grow in the newsroom, we would like to ask you, the reader: What should we do with them? What is your favorite way to display antique postcards?
There was a Takeover - Summer Edition
Surely you saw the amazing Twitter Takeover of the district's X account in July. Loyal social media followers received a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at GPS Summer School for two days with a balance of academics and fun in a safe learning environment. In case you missed it, take a look a just a sampling of what we offered.
Greenwich High School's Ms. Karen Boyea has been named the 2023 Connecticut History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K–12 American history education. Ms. Boyea has been a teacher at GHS since 2002 and was recognized in 2011 as a GPS Distinguished Teacher.
Inaugurated in 2004 and now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the History Teacher of the Year award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K–12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US Territories.
“Knowledgeable and impassioned teachers bring our country’s history to life for students, allowing them to understand that engaging with history is about more than a series of facts,” GLIAH President James G. Basker said. “Teachers are the lifeblood of our students’ education, and these are the best of the best.”
In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Ms. Boyea receives a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at a local ceremony. She becomes one of 53 finalists for the 2023 National History Teacher of the Year Award. This year’s National History Teacher of the Year will be announced in fall 2023 and celebrated at a ceremony in New York City.
Additional information can be found on the Gilder Lehrman Institute website at the National History Teacher of the Year landing page, a full list of all 2023 state winners, and a press release about this year’s award.
And the Violins Played
Congratulations to newlyweds Hamilton Avenue School Assistant Principal Ms. Annamarie McCarthy and husband Angelo Simonelli. Their recent wedding featured an amazing surprise performance from the school's Suzuki program violinists.
The Suzuki teachers held volunteer practices at end of the school year and throughout the summer. Parents of the violinists provided encouragement and transportation. At this special performance, Ham Ave alum Joshua Grijalba, an older sibling of one of the performers, supervised.
The Suzuki program was started at Hamilton Avenue to give students in our community some of the musical opportunities that their peers in other parts of town had been afforded by their families. The program provides intellectual, social, and artistic benefits to the students.
Watch or listen to a portion of the performance and let us know what you think!
Waste Not, Want Not
Did you know that each year American public schools generate an estimated 530,000 tons of wasted food, costing $1.7 billion annually? Greenwich Public Schools is one of the largest generators of municipal solid waste in the Greenwich community. Wasted food composes a significant proportion of the district's waste stream, an estimated 191,700 pounds annually.
In the fall of 2022, New Lebanon relaunched the cafeteria waste reduction program and diverted a total of 3,570 pounds (1.8 tons) of organics from the cafeteria waste stream during the pilot period, reduced 37.6 pounds of organics daily, diverted an estimated 23 pounds of organics per student per year, and mitigated 748 pounds of CO2 equivalent.
We encourage you to read the entire report.
There is No Beginning & There is No End
Eastern Middle School students Even Bielensen, Ford Paulson, Eliana Orlosky, Soleil Meehan, and Ena Savovska were recently honored as 2023 winners of the 18th annual "eesmarts" student contest where students were invited to answer grade level-specific prompts regarding how they would promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and reduce carbon footprints to their families, fellow students, and schools.
The Greenwich group competed in the sixth-grade category and won second place for their persuasive 55-second social media video called, "Trust Yourself. You Can Do This." It provided tips on how people can save energy. Students from 18 schools in 15 Connecticut communities submitted their work for consideration.
The contest is sponsored by Energize Connecticut, an initiative dedicated to empowering Connecticut to make smart energy choices, now and in the future. They provide Connecticut consumers, businesses, and communities with the resources and information they need to make it easy to save energy and build a clean energy future for everyone in the state.
Way to go EMS!
The Digest newsroom got a great tip at the end of the last school year that GPS' communication department came away with three (THREE!) 2022 Bonnie B. Carney Awards of Excellence for Educational Communications from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) in the categories of social media, newsletters, and websites. This year's bounty featured 2022 Distinguished Teacher Awardee Ms. Tyler Mecozzi and her amazing Twitter Takeover.
CABE has been honoring school districts with the Award of Excellence for Educational Communications since 1975 with the goal to identify and honor the hard working people in school districts for their continuing effort to communicate effectively.
In the past two school years, GPS has added a total of five plaques to its collection. Congratulations!
Postcard Delivered, As Promised
In Issue 17 of last year's GPS District Digest, we told you all about North Street School's Mrs. Shannon Beckley heading to French Polynesia with her husband, a teacher in Norwalk, after receiving Fund For Teacher 2023 Fellowships. And you know we asked her to send us a postcard.
Well, Ms. Shannon Beckley delivered! As promised, she sent the Digest a digital postcard, SCUBA style!
A big thanks goes to Ms. Beckley for thinking of us!
Ambika, We Have Not Heard The Last Of
Every Digest loyal reader knows about recent GHS grad and Harvard University freshman, Ambika Grover. She must be one of the most all-time mentioned students in GPS District Digest history.
This past July, Ambika was a member of the national USA Debate Team that came away with top place at the World Schools Debating Championships in Vietnam. It was the first championship for the U.S. in this competition since 1994. Last year, the proud Cardinal was selected for the team out of about 140,000 applicants.
In the Grand Final, Team USA defeated our neighbors up north in the Great White Way from Canada with the topic: This House Prefers a world ruled by a benevolent AI programmed to maximize utility by calculating the actions most guaranteed to reduce the greatest global suffering. Proposition: USA; opposition: Canada.
If you scan to the 1:12:45 mark of the closing ceremonies video on Facebook, you will get to see and hear the moment for Ambika and her teammates that will last a lifetime.
GPS X-Cellent Adventures 📱
We love sharing good news with our 2,022 closest friends on the GPS X (Twitter) account, @GPSDistrict.
We never want to tell you what to do, but if you are not following us, maybe you should be. This feed is only for our families, students, staff, and community members that want to see all of the good things happening around the District. No negativity from us, but maybe a little sarcasm and loads of fun.
At the Digest, we love to show you some of our favorite posts from around the GPS social media world.
Do you have a favorite social media account? Let us know!
Fun in the Sun
Sometimes, it is good to get out of the office, even for a short time. Some staff members at the district office were lucky enough to jump on the ferry to Island Beach on their lunch break recently.
To Our Readers...
- 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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- Karen and Linda? The best!
It is the Mission of the Greenwich Public Schools to:
- • Educate all students to the highest levels of academic achievement;
- • Enable them to reach and expand their potential; and
- • Prepare them to become productive, responsible, ethical, creative and compassionate members of society.