One Longtime CT Telecommuter Who Misses the City: Cameron on Transportation

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Joe Connolly has been a telecommuter for 20 years. You probably know him from his award-winning business reports on WCBS Newsradio 880 or his Small Business Breakfasts held annually in Stamford. But you might not realize that Connolly lives not in New York City, but in eastern Connecticut. He’s up and working weekdays by 4:30 a.m., driving first to pick up a print copy of the Wall Street Journal before heading to his office/broadcast studio near his home, where he seldom opens the window blinds. “I’m here to work,” he says, “not for the view.”
In his broadcast booth he has a big painting of the New York City skyline to keep him connected with his radio audience.

Tucker Carlson Ellen Dunn DHS SPLC Racism

DHS Principal’s Recommended Source for Reading About Racism Denounced on National Fox News Show

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Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson on Friday criticized Darien High School Principal Ellen Dunn for recommending a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the sources of information students and parents could use in learning about racism in light of events surrounding the George Floyd killing. “Now, ironically, the Southern Poverty Law Center is itself a hate group,” Carlson said. “That has been documented extensively. Now their agenda is the school’s agenda. It’s what your kids are learning.”

Darien High School DHS 9-13-16

DHS Principal: Here Are Resources for High School Students on Racism and Police Violence

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With many high school students concerned about the recent police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and dramatic events sparked by it, Darien High School sent an email Thursday morning to parents with web links to information geared toward students on racism and police violence. SEE ALSO: DHS Principal’s Recommended Source for Reading About Racism Denounced on National Fox News Show (June 6)

DHS Principal Ellen Dunn sent the email. Among the resources it points to are several that her message emphasized, including links to:

— an interview with “a clinical psychologist at the University [of Pennsylvania] studying racial literacy and racial trauma”

— a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has detailed materials for educators and families on teaching about race, racism, and police violence

— three links to Web pages with information “for educators in how we can proactively help children think about and process these difficult ideas” from the National Association for School Psychologists, which was being used by the school district for guidance in addressing the topics with students. 

“As events unfold around the country, the Darien Public School District joins other organizations and individuals in the call to action to address and end systemic racism. […]
“As a District, we are sharing resources with the community that will guide our work moving forward in the race conscious education of our students and support your discussions as families.” […]
“Engaging in difficult conversations is a critical step in fostering acceptance and embracing differences.

Darien Public Schools

Superintendent Says Budget Cuts Would ‘Significantly Affect’ Education, Updates Parents on District News

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Schools Superintendent Alan Addley, in a message to parents updating them on various developments in the district, said the budget cuts he’s been forced to recommend to the Board of Education would “significantly affect” the education of Darien students. Darienite.com has published the full message below and numbered the sections in Addley’s message to make it quicker for readers to find out more in the numbered topics below. Here are the other six topics covered in the long message:

—what the district will do in helping students better deal with concerns revolving around the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (7)

—how the district is going about planning for school reopenings and closings (6)

— how the district is regulating use of school campuses by summer school programs (4)

— regulations on other organizations may use school facilities (4)

—the coming end of grab-and-go meal distribution (2)

—summer school and extended school year plans (3)

—a short, general message with no details about graduation and moving-up ceremonies (1)

Regarding budget cuts (5), Addley said:

At the last BOE meeting, the Administration made recommendations to the Board of Education for consideration to close this gap. These included some very difficult choices that would significantly affect the quality of education.

Darien Summer School student desk reading

Darien Summer School Going Online This Year — Kids Will Not Be Going to School

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Due to the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place for operating in-person summer programs, Darien Summer School will be moving to a virtual platform this year. — an announcement from Darien Public Schools
While we had hoped to be able to see our DSS participants and staff in person, after thoughtful consideration regarding all aspects of our unique programming, it was decided that this would be the most feasible and safest option for everyone. Our teachers are already hard at work developing fun, interactive, and flexible programming that will fit within families’ summer schedules. Many classes will involve exciting activity kits such as the activity boxes that will be delivered to students enrolled in “Out of this World — Science Exploration” while others will involve unique opportunities such as our Quiz Bowl campers’ chance to interact and compete with students from around the country without ever leaving their home. Please check the DSS website (www.dariensummerschool.com) for more information about virtual classes including new course times and prices.

Michael Burke Sara Parent

Democratic Nominees for Board of Ed: Incumbent Michael Burke and CDSP Co-President Sara Parent

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The Democratic Town Committee announced Thursday that Michael Burke and Sara Parent have been nominated as candidates for Darien’s Board of Education. — an announcement from the Darien Democratic Town Committee

“Michael brings a wealth of experience and a steady hand, and Sara brings her experience as a highly involved parent and a former educator to the Board of Education,” DTC Chair David Bayne said. “At a time when the COVID-19 crisis is testing the very foundations of how education is being delivered to our children, Michael and Sara represent the kind of thoughtful and innovative leadership that is precisely what Darien needs in order to continue providing unsurpassed educational opportunities to all of our children,” Bayne said. “Together they represent the best that Darien has to offer and our town is particularly fortunate that they have chosen to run for the Board of Education during this unprecedented time.” Michael Burke is seeking his third term on the Board of Education and Sara Parent her first.

Diploma Day June 11 2020 Page ONE

Here’s How DHS Will Have a Graduation Like No Other Before: Diplomas Handed Out on June 11 [UPDATED]

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As everyone knows, Darien High School’s graduation this year won’t be a ceremony with crowds, due to the restrictions on gatherings, but just how it would be done has been finally announced with a packet (below) emailed to students and parents on Wednesday night. Here’s how:

[See update in the bulleted, gray-boxed paragraph, below.]

On Thursday, June 11, graduation will be in two parts: First, from 8 to 9 a.m., the “Wave Through” — a parade of sorts — will go through the high school campus, with seniors and their families in cars. The cars will first go to the Middlesex Middle School parking lot, at 7:45 a.m., then proceed to the high school in a long line. Then, at various times of day from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., seniors and their families will go back to campus at scheduled times in another line of cars. At the end of the line, seniors in their caps and gowns will get out of their vehicles with their parents and be presented with their diplomas — from their parents.

Three Ways to Show Appreciation for Graduating Darien Students, Even If They’re Not Your Kids

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Every year, the Depot Youth Center provides balloons that graduating seniors find outside (see below for details), but two other ways of celebrating graduating students are also happening this year, when the pandemic can threaten spirits and will certainly change the traditional commencement event. First, An “adopt-a-senior” program for families with elementary and middle school students has been started where those families drop off “a homemade card or sign, a flower from the yard, or a small token at the student’s home,” according to an announcement in the Middlesex Parents Association newsletter. Families who sign up are assigned a student and given an address (in an email to be sent next week). The dropoffs are supposed to take place anytime in the five-day period from June 1 to 5. (See the announcement below.)

Second, Middlesex Middle School parents can order a yard sign from the Depot for graduating 8th graders who are going on to high school next year.

Maya Nalawade Alexis Zitzmann DHS graduation 2020

Darien High School Names Valedictorian, Salutatorian for Class of 2020 Graduation

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Darien High School has named Maya Nalawade the valedictorian for the graduating Class of 2020 and Alexis Zitzmann as the salutatorian, DHS Principal Ellen Dunn announced on Thursday. The high school hasn’t announced plans for what kind of graduation ceremony the Class of 2020 will get during these pandemic times, but the traditional addresses made by the valedictorian and salutatorian could be done if all or part of the ceremony is online. (See below for some of what’s been announced about the graduation.)

Darienite.com found a bit of information about each student early Thursday evening (we hope to get more, later):
Maya Nalawade

Nalawade, born in the United States, spent several years of her childhood in Amsterdam and then in New Delhi, India before returning to the U.S. Earlier this year she published a book of poetry, “The World is a Broken Puzzle: Exploring Identity and Belonging.” She has been editor-in-chief of the school’s literary magazine and president of the school’s creative writing club, according to the Polyphony Lit website, an online literary platform for high school students. “If she’s not writing poetry she’s usually singing, listening to anything from Bollywood to Beyonce, or watching movies (which means she’s probably watching Midnight in Paris for the 100th time),” the website said.

Board of Finance Cuts Tax Rate Slightly After Paring Down Spending, Education Cuts Debated

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With about 700 Darienites unemployed after losing their jobs in Connecticut on top of an unknown number of town residents who lost jobs in New York state, the Board of Finance decided to cut budget proposals from the Boards of Education and Selectmen, resulting in a slightly lower tax rate. The new mill rate will be no more than $16.36 (for every $1,000 of assessed value), down slightly from the current fiscal year’s $16.47, an 11-cent difference. The Finance Board’s goal was to keep the next town tax levy essentially the same as this one. The Finance Board’s cuts of about half a percent to the schools budget (on top of earlier cuts that the Board of Education agreed to make) came in the face of strong objections from members of not only the Board of Education, but also schools Superintendent Alan Addley and the Council of Darien School Parents. They said further cuts would hurt the educational experience of students.

DHSPA closeup volunteer with Senior Send-Off sign 2020

DHS Parents Association: Yard Signs Congratulated Each DHS 2020 Senior on Tuesday, More Celebrations Planned

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To the editor,
We are writing to update you on the news surrounding the inaugural Senior Send-Off. Given the uncertainty surrounding social distancing policies for large gatherings, the Darien High School Parents Association (DHSPA) has come to the difficult conclusion that we cannot hold our event as originally envisioned. However, we are currently hard at work planning safe and creative ways to honor all 361 members of the DHS Class of 2020 over the course of the next month. On Tuesday, May 12, parent volunteers placed signs in the yards of each DHS senior. We are grateful to The Depot for their assistance in this project.

Maritime Aquarium teacher appreciation week

Maritime Aquarium Hosts ‘Teaching During a Pandemic’ Webinar and Salutes Teachers This Week

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The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk will host a timely webinar on Thursday, May 8 at 5 p.m. focused on the current situation within which educators are working. — an announcement from the Maritime Aquarium

At a time of unprecedented challenges for teachers, the aquarium is celebrating educators the week of May 4 as part of “Teacher Appreciation Week” via daily raffles, social media shout outs and a specially-themed webinar. “Teaching during a Pandemic: a Sea Change for STEM Education and a New Role for Partners” will be hosted by aquarium president and CEO Jason Patlis and aquarium director of Education Tom Naiman. The online panel discussion will explore the challenges educators have faced since schools closed, how they’ve adapted and what is working for them, and how parents can best support their efforts. Registration is free and available on the aquarium’s website.

Hindley School 4-27-16

Governor: School Buildings to Stay Closed for Rest of School Year

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School buildings must be closed for the rest of the academic year to keep students and staff safe from COVID-19, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday morning. Online teaching will continue to take place, and take-out school lunch and breakfast programs must continue, the governor said. Lamont and state education officials will discuss the decision at the governor’s 4 p.m. news briefing. A decision on holding summer school is expected by the end of May, according to the announcement. Here’s the full text of Lamont’s announcement:

Gov. Ned Lamont today announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he is ordering in-person classes at all K-12 public school facilities in Connecticut to remain canceled for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year and continue providing distance learning during this period.

Darien High School entrance

Darien High School Is Tied for No. 1 in the United States for Math and Reading Proficiency, U.S. News Says

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When U.S. News magazine recently came out with its rankings of high schools around the country and in the state, Darien High School came out tied for No. 1 for math and reading proficiency and No. 3 in the overall ranking in Connecticut. For math and reading proficiency, Darien was tied with the Julia R. Masterman Secondary School in Philadelphia as the No. 1 school.

Darien Public Schools

Superintendent: Starting Monday, Parents Can Pick Up Free Lunches for Any Darien Students in Need

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In an email to parents on Sunday, Schools Superintendent Alan Addley told parents that “Free lunches are available to any Darien student in need starting tomorrow, Monday, April 20.” Addley also wrote that the Board of Education meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday can be accessed through Google Meet. The home page of the school district website will have a link to follow. “The administration will present its Grading and Reporting Procedures” at the board meeting. “Members of the public may still comment on the Grading and Reporting Procedures agenda item by emailing Dr. Alan Addley aaddley@darienps.org or Tara Ochman tochman@darienps.org by 4 p.m. tomorrow, Monday, April 20,” he added.