GPS District Digest (v4, i19)
Stories, news, and updates from Greenwich Public Schools
You're the Bee's Knees
Every GPS District Digest loyal reader gets that warning every other Thursday that our issues are packed with all good things GPS. Some are more packed that others. But believe you me, issue No. 19 of the Digest is bursting at the seams. Just take a quick look at the new fancy table of contents. We have it all, including a musical interlude.
With the school year quickly coming to an end, our community sources and tipsters are reaching out to the Digest more than ever. And our readership? Would you believe that since September, we have more than 100k views worldwide and are on pace to double our 2021-2022 numbers. Make sure to hit that "subscribe" button at the end of the newsletter to never miss an exciting issue.
So sit back, enjoy that soup or salad, and see what all of the fuss it about.
Keep an eye on that sly foxhound. He might have snuck in twice this time!
Enjoy issue No. 19. Thanks for reading!
GPS District Digest
More Essay Contest Winners
The GPS District Digest loves to write about essay contest winners almost as much as GPS students love to enter essay contests. The League of Women Voters of Greenwich recently announced the Fourth Annual Student Essay Contest winners. The contest was open to students who either live or attend school in Greenwich.
Eastern MS eighth graders Youhan Liang ("Federal Voting Age") and Sara Rahimtula ("Why Sixteen and Seventeen-Year-Olds Deserve the Right to Vote") took home honors in the middle school division.
In the high school division, GHS junior Aubrey Niederhoffer took first place for his essay, "Puerto Rico: America’s Last Colony," while senior Carina Adams-Szabo received an honorable mention for her essay, "Breaking the Chains: A Constitutional Deprivation for Democracy."
Twenty volunteers judged the essays; all essays were anonymous both by individual and by school. Every submitted essay was read by at least two judges. The grading rubric included assessments of the essay’s organization, of the persuasiveness of the argument, and of whether the author documented their research. The essays submitted by all winners were checked to ensure original work. Each of the essays represents dedication and a commitment of time to research, to write, and to submit.
The award winners will be recognized at the LWV Annual Dinner on Wednesday, June 7 at the Riverside Yacht Club.
Niamh's Crowning Achievement
Western Middle School's eighth grade student Niamh O'Donovan included Hamilton Avenue School preschoolers in her Capstone Project. The Digest was alerted that the students loved having her read to them and would love for her to come back again.
The Capstone Interdisciplinary Project allows students to exhibit skills they have learned during their educational experience in middle school. Students explore a real-life issue or problem in the context of how it impacts our community. The Capstone Project proposes a plan for the future based on the evidence researched.
Here is what Niamh had to say: "For my eighth grade Capstone Project, I researched the correlation between low income status and reading success. After researching about the topic, I found that students from low income households struggle with reading because they do not have the resources, like books, to promote early literacy. So to combat this problem, I was able to contact a publisher and got 70 books donated to provide to every preschool student [regardless of family income] at Hamilton Ave School to help promote early literacy for all students. Thank you so much for welcoming me to read to the preschoolers at Hamilton Ave School."
Way to go Niamh!
Bring it Back Old School
Greenwich High School seniors are giving back to their elementary and middle schools as teacher assistants in the classrooms this spring through the senior internship program.
"As teachers, seeing these developmental milestones with former ISD students to seniors at GHS is positively awe-inspiring," second grade teachers Mrs. Sandra Millspaugh and Ms. Chelsea Sciarretta collectively said. "Two of our high school volunteers, Daisy Decker and Sydney Flock, share a sense of kindness, gentleness and willingness when working with our seven and eight-year-olds. They capture the needs of these young students and offer a helping hand. They laugh, have wonderful conversations, and share their academic expertise with them. They have shared that the recipe for success is to embrace our failures and successes.
"And the most important part to learning is to be open-minded as everyone goes through their own life journey. We are so honored to have them as interns."
GHS, in partnership with the Town of Greenwich, began the Internship Program in 1997 by placing 23 senior interns in jobs throughout town offices. Since then, many companies and organizations have joined to help students experience the world of work before they begin their post high school plans. This year, 450 seniors are currently on internship for the last four weeks of the school year.
"Getting to reunite with the teachers," GHS senior Piper Loveless said when asked what was the best part of the internship. "It is also been so interesting coming back to the school with a completely different perspective."
The College and Career Center at GHS coordinates the internship program. Seniors in good academic standing and meeting behavioral and attendance standards are allowed to participate each spring. Faculty and staff at GHS volunteer their time to mentor each intern throughout the course of the internship.
Food Services Director Mr. Dave Nanarello gave us an insider's view of North Street School this issue with Lead Cook Adrian Ciocoiu and Food Service Worker Monique Brennan. And just look at that spread: sliced fresh oranges, local apples, broccoli bites, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, baby carrots, a selection of chicken Caesar salads, and oven baked crinkle cut French fries.
Did You Know that their Hummel Brothers All-Beef Frankfurters are uncured and nitrate free? They are served on a whole grain hot dog bun. Fat free and 1% milk, orange juice, apple juice, and baked whole grain snacks are available, too.
Adrian exclusively told the Digest, "The pictures are of the first graders and almost everyone takes the fresh fruits and veggies on their plates. They are not picky, very well behaved, and always excited for lunch service!"
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!
Out There in the Spotlight
The Digest has learned GHS student Amrutha Nandakumar was recently accepted as one of 30 high school juniors in the country into the United States Senate Page Program that will start in July and last for three weeks. She is sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal and will assist in the day-to-day operations of the Senate which include delivering correspondence and legislative material within the Capitol and Senate office buildings, preparing the Chamber for Senate sessions, working on the Senate floor providing assistance during roll call votes, supporting senators and staff during debates, and carrying bills and amendments to the desk.
“I have known for the longest time that I want to do something with my life that makes a positive change for the people around me, and I think laws have a really powerful ability to make that possible,” Amrutha told the Digest. “About a year ago, I found out about the opportunity to see laws being made up close and I knew that it was absolutely perfect for me."
Pages are expected to demonstrate maturity, personal responsibility, and time management skills. They maintain a rigorous schedule, including early mornings and late nights. Pages are employees of the Sergeant at Arms and are required to abide by policies and expectations established for all employees. Additionally, pages must abide by a strict code of conduct and guidelines established by the Page Program.
While the application process was extensive, Amrutha stayed with it.
“I am super grateful to Senator Blumenthal and his office, particularly Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kanick, for sponsoring me and guiding me through the application process,” Amrutha added. “I am incredibly excited to go to Washington and get to work in the Senate.”
“We are very excited about Amrutha's recent acceptance to the Senate Page Program,” GHS Social Students Teacher Mr. Dan Silkman said. “She is an incredible student and a strong leader of our high school community. Amrutha will have a wonderful time in DC this summer representing our state and high school in this prestigious program.”
This Way is United
It is a big day in the Digest newsroom when we hear from District partners. Recently, the Greenwich United Way checked in to let us know what a successful and productive academic year they had with GPS and the Greenwich Alliance for Education.
Their Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions (ECAGS) program serves families in need with children ages birth to five and focuses on strengthening family bonds, social emotional learning, and kindergarten readiness in homes and in classrooms. Their preschool instructional coach, who collaborates to provide teacher-centered coaching, worked in 14 GPS classrooms, supporting over 50 teachers and paraprofessionals, and helped approximately 200 students this year.
This year marked the 15th year of their Reading Champions program. With the support of 120 volunteers, the program helped 350 students in all 11 GPS elementary schools in the areas of reading fluency, literacy, and comprehension. Any family with children in the Reading Champions program can attest to the benefits students gain from the dedicated one-on-one support that our volunteers provide.
Their Math Champions program at Cos Cob School worked with a core group of 17 students in K-5 with the support of eight volunteers. Fun and interactive math games helped instill greater student confidence and improve math skills.
The United Way made sure to thank their partners, GPS staff, faculty, families, and volunteers for helping to make an enormous educational impact on Greenwich students and they look forward to their continued partnership with GPS in the 2023-24 school year.
To learn more about the Greenwich United Way, head to their website.
Please enjoy watching and listening these New Lebanon School fourth graders with Ms. Nina Dryer practicing for the Spring Concert. An audience of third graders really enjoyed it.
PTAC Essence Awards
Congratulations to the winners and nominees named at the PTAC Essence Awards ceremony in late May. The PTA Council is the umbrella organization formed by the 15 GPS PTAs and a vital group of parents who make our students’ educational process more fulfilling.
Cate Elliott-Bocassi was named the 2023 Essence Award winner, while Valerie Rimmer was given the prestigious Lifetime Award. We also congratulate the other nominees for all of their dedicated work for the students and staff at GPS: Carey Brisbee, Cristina Broderick, Kerri Gruss, Angie Hartofilis, Leila Horn, Anne Rockel, Dawn Wistrand, and the Washington D.C. Fundraising Committee.
How the West Was Won
By Gemma Hardwick
Special to the Digest
In mid-May, the Greenwich HS Girls Outdoor Track & Field Team continued their winning streak against an undefeated Staples team at the final regular season meet. With a final score of 80-65, the Cardinals became the overall FCIAC Western Division Champions, a title not earned since 1992!
When Coach Peter Watson announced to the team that Greenwich HS had not won this title in 31 years, it was truly an amazing feeling, especially because the team knew they ran their best.
Many of the athletes had run in multiple events that day and there were several personal records set. After many weeks of hard work in practice, it had paid off for the final event as a team. I was proud to share this accomplishment with my friends and teammates and it was especially sweet for the seniors. Cardinal first-place finishes included victories in the 4x100m relay, senior Kaitlyn Fay in the 100m, junior Esme Daplyn in the 800m, 1600m and 3200m, senior Fallon Martin in the 300m hurdles, and senior Haley Townsend who recorded a season-best 17.01 in the 100m hurdles.
This win positioned the team as a top contender heading into the FCIAC Championship at the end of May at Danbury High School. Those results were not available at press time, so look out for it next issue.
Gemma Hardwick is a current Greenwich High School freshman and member of the Cardinals' Track & Field team that voluntarily submits track & field reports exclusively to GPS District Digest.
Turn Back the Clock 🕰️
A favorite GPS District Digest feature in the newsroom has returned after a long hiatus. Loyal readers know about our extensive antique postcard collection. It has been a while, but we acquired this fantastic artifact recently of the Colonel Raynal C. Bolling War Memorial that sits in front of the Havemeyer Building on Greenwich Avenue. Unfortunately, this postcard was left unused, unable to live out its destiny. That makes us sad, but today we will celebrate it.
How many times have you walked past this very cool memorial without really knowing who Bolling was? According to our friends at the Greenwich Historical Society, Greenwich resident Raynal C. Bolling helped prepare our military for a new age of warfare. In the early 20th century, Bolling organized the first National Guard flying unit and helped recruit and train some of this country’s earliest fighter pilots. He enlisted in the U.S. Army several days before the United States officially entered World War I and was appointed as the Assistant Chief of Air Service, Lines of Communication. In this role, his responsibilities included determining the types of engines and planes to be manufactured and used by the Allies.
Archivist Christopher Shields writes that Bolling was quickly promoted to colonel and began preparations to assume tactical command of American air units scheduled to deploy on the British front. He was killed in France on March 26, 1918 while on an inspection tour. Bolling was defending himself and his unarmed chauffeur during a German ambush near the front lines near Amiens. He was the first high-ranking air service officer killed on the battlefield in World War I.
Do you have a cool Greenwich postcard in your collection? Please share it with us.
Greenwich Alliance for Education Executive Director Julie Faryniarz alerted the Digest about the amazing GHS interns that recently reported to them.
Seniors in good academic standing have the opportunity to participate in a Senior Option (internship or project) in the last 4+ weeks of their senior year instead of attending classes. Program participation requires 25 hours of work per week (5 hours/day).
Joseph Nsereko, Alydykerimov Abdykerimov, Melissa Perez, and Hope Reinoso are getting an amazing opportunity to work with the good folks at the Alliance, the education foundation supporting students in GPS. Since its founding, it has dedicated $4.2 million to funding innovation, expanding opportunities, and inspiring educators.
Ms. Faryniarz told us exclusively that the interns' first day included a meet-and-greet with AVID Northeast Director Patrick Briggs, which was very fitting because three of the interns are AVID students.
During their discussion with Mr. Briggs, it was learned that collectively, the students speak Spanish, Quechua, Russian, Kyrgyzstan and Luganda. We all agree that this demonstrates the amazing diversity of our GHS student body.
Not on Thin Ice
All loyal readers of the Digest know that we have sources throughout the GPS community regularly sending tips into the newsroom. Recently, we were tipped off about three GHS students and their amazing accomplishments in the world of synchronized skating.
Senior Yurika Sakai, junior Nancy Kessler, and sophomore Emily Duarte are teammates on the junior line of the Skyliners Synchronized Skating Team and consistently deliver impressive results at their meets, including winning Gold at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championship in Peoria, IL and Bronze competing as Team USA 1 at the International Skating Union World Junior Synchronized Skating Championship in Angers, France.
The Skyliners Synchronized Skating Team was established in 2001 by a group of parents who wanted to create the most competitive synchronized skating club in the tri-state area.
The success they achieved in working towards a shared goal was made possible not only by intense physical training, but also exceptional teamwork that focuses on staying in the moment and rebounding from mistakes.
Congrats Ms. Montague!
Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones recently announced the appointment of Ms. Erin Montague as assistant principal at Western Middle School. Ms. Montague, who has been serving as the interim AP since August 12, replaced Mr. Kerry Gavin, who was appointed principal at Cos Cob School. WMS is GPS’ sole magnet middle school, featuring AVID Schoolwide, a global organization dedicated to closing the opportunity gap, preparing all students, especially underrepresented students, to be college and career ready.
“Erin Montague has proven to the entire Western Middle School community during this past school year that she is a committed and dedicated school administrator deserving of a more permanent role,” Dr. Jones said. “For almost a decade on the staff, she has endeared herself to WMS and it became clear to the interview committee she belongs in this position. We are especially proud of Ms. Montague because she is an alumna of Greenwich Public Schools, graduating from New Lebanon School, WMS, and Greenwich High School.”
For more information, head to the GPS website.
Spring Into Art
For students, the start of spring brings the expectation of warmer weather, spring sports and spring break. For students in the Art Department at GHS, the highlight of the season is “Spring Into Art,” an exhibit on display in late May featuring over 2,000 pieces of original work.
Submitted works included photography, ceramics, digital art, sculpture, prints, and a variety of paintings, and drawings. Artwork was displayed throughout the art wing in every nook and cranny. Students in all classrooms demonstrated their area of expertise and visitors were encouraged to participate in hands-on demonstrations and activities such as nature printing, ceramics, photography, mehndi, and digital art.
Whether it is studio art or art using technology, GHS students are proving that the arts are alive and well in Greenwich.
They Got Out & Played
Connecticut Governor Lamont proclaimed May 26 of each year to be “Get Outside and Play for Children’s Mental Health Day” to raise awareness about children’s mental health and the positive effect that being outdoors has on children’s mental health and wellness.
Parkway School spent that day playing and having fun on their beautiful campus. Each class visited a series of stations to engage in fun, relaxing, non-competitive activities which included: painting kindness rocks, taking a yoga class, jumping rope, blowing bubbles, enjoying visiting farm animals, flying paper airplanes, bracelet making, playing games with the giant parachute, making mindfulness bottles, and playing some lawn games. All classes also had time to enjoy some outdoor reading, lunch, recess, and a special.
"The day was an outstanding success," Principal Mary Grandville told the Digest. "Students and teachers had a blast and truly lived up to the Governor's vision!"
One fifth-grade student was overheard saying, as she was blowing bubbles, "I feel like a kid again!"
The GPS District Digest has learned that three Greenwich High School Innovation Lab ninth grade students were recognized by the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center for its annual Genocide Awareness Student Contest entries in the ninth and 10th grade categories with participants from Westchester and Fairfield Counties and New Jersey. The competition is held in commemoration of April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention month. This event invited students to create an original project in visual arts, poetry, music, or other media of artistic expression that commemorates an aspect of a genocide which occurred in the 20th or 21st century.
Renee Chin took first place for her digital art titled, “Lost Identity” and Murphy Bennett placed second for his mixed media art titled, “Rwandan Divide,” both recognizing Rwandan genocide in 1994. Heidi Farnum received an honorable mention for her mixed media collage titled, “The Children Lost Again” recognizing the genocide of Indigenous American children in Indian boarding schools.
“We are so proud of our students and are always thrilled to be able to participate in this meaningful way to demonstrate their deep understanding of the world,” GHS teachers Ms. Kathy Méndez and Ms. Courtney Hawes jointly said. “It has always been one of our favorite ways to talk about global citizenship with our ninth graders and the importance of being an upstander through this platform for advocacy.”
The GPS Twittersphere 📱
We love sharing good news with our 2,000 closet friends on the GPS Twitter account, @GPSDistrict.
If you are not following us, 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 that you will sometime find on social media from us!
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!
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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.