Tokeneke School Mural

Tokeneke School’s New Mural; When Moving Up Ceremonies Take Place This Week

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Tokeneke Principal Mary Michelson can now easily spot the school’s mascot from anywhere inside the school’s Common Room. Nestled among the painted trees, the Tokeneke “Eagle” is a prominent feature of a new mural painted by Darien High School students and commissioned by the fifth-grade class. “Every year at Tokeneke School our fifth-graders donate a gift to the school. This year they voted to have a mural painted in the Common Room,” said Michelson. “It is a true collaboration of talents between the two schools.”

Darien Public Schools (DPS) Art Coordinator Jaclyn Sammis and DHS student artists Liam Morrill, Nadia Czebiniak, Julia O’Brien, Emma Seely, and  Alex Adelman completed the mural and presented it to the school. __________

See also: Darien Student Wins 1st Place in Oils Category, Another Darienite Gets 3rd Place for Photo in Rowayton Art Exhibit (June 18)


Tokeneke was scheduled to hold its moving up ceremony this morning, Monday, June 18 at 9:15 a.m. in the Common Room.

Chromebooks middle School

Middlesex Students Use Chromebooks to Show Parents What They’ve Learned

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Spread out among the shelves and tables in the Middlesex Middle School library, sixth grade students waited for their end-of-year conference to start. There was, however, no teacher standing or sitting next to them.  
Instead, students — with their Chromebooks — were leading parents through their digital portfolio which had work representing their growth as learners across all subjects. The portfolios featured spreadsheets of workout logs; Prezi (a computer program for presentations) for book reviews; and a mix of written work, images, video and audio clips from all subject areas. Avery Fahrman, a student whose interest in football and lacrosse could be seen in his portfolio, said compiling a digital portfolio was a good experience.

Theater 308 Rocks Awards Season

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Theatre 308, Darien High School’s acting and performance arts club, took top honors recently at two state-wide awards programs.

Halo Awards
For the second year in a row, both of Theatre 308’s mainstage productions have received nominations for the The Halo Awards, an award ceremony that honors high school student achievements in dramatic and musical theater from over 60 high schools throughout Connecticut. Freshman Jackson Wood took home “Best Featured Dancer” for his performance in the spring musical Footloose. Senior Lexi Staubi, who starred as Ariel in Footloose, was awarded a performing arts scholarship as she prepares to go the University of Southern California this fall for acting. Junior Mackenzie Lauture, a dance captain for the show, also won a dance scholarship to take classes this summer at the Molinari Dance Studio in New York City. Stephen Sondheim Awards
In addition to the Halo Awards, this year’s musical main stage was entered in the first ever Stephen Sondheim Awards, the gateway production into the National High School Musical Theater Awards show, also known as the Jimmy Awards.

Language students crouching and standing

Language Students Awarded with Certificates and Society Memberships

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Darien High School recently awarded the Seal of Biliteracy to 82 seniors studying French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. In 2016, Connecticut passed legislation for the Seal of Biliteracy, a nationally-recognized award given at graduation to seniors that have achieved proficiency in both their world language of study and English. Beginning with the Class of 2018, school districts can award the Seal of Biliteracy to qualifying seniors. Students must meet state English requirements for graduation, and also achieve intermediate proficiency in a world language on state-approved exams.


“Because it is nationally-recognized, the Seal of Biliteracy sends the message to our students that the United States is formally recognizing the value of a multilingual society, and that speaking more than one language is necessary to be a global citizen,” said Christina Mauricio, 6-12 chair of World Languages. “It not only honors students that excel in a world language, but also those that arrive speaking their heritage language and then learn English.”

brenner tv79 3-13-16

Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner Announces He May Soon Take Another Job

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Superintendent of Schools Dan Brenner, almost three years after coming to Darien Public Schools, announced at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting that he is negotiating a “once in a lifetime” job offer from a private school. Brenner said he was approached with the opportunity and that he was informing the public and the Board of Education “because of how late it is in the school year and the obvious need to start a process for my replacement.” In his prepared statement, which he read to the board, Brenner didn’t hint at any dissatisfaction with his job in Darien. Instead, he described the job opportunity as too enticing to ignore: “Just recently, I have been approached with a once in a lifetime opportunity to run a private school that is something that I could not overlook.” The superintendent said he didn’t want to identify the name of the school or provide any other specifics “because I am in the final stages of negotiations,” but he expected negotiations to conclude in about a week.

Blankets for Premies

Blankets for Premies Program Stays Strong at Middlesex After 12 Years

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For more than a decade, Middlesex Middle School students have been lending their handiwork to making thousands of blankets for area hospitals. Each one has been overseen by MMS Science teacher Kelly DePiano and dedicated to the memory of Sean James Maloney. Known as “Blankets for Preemies,” the community service project is partnered with the nonprofit organization The Tiny Miracles Foundation based in Darien.  Students make fleece blankets that are given to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in Norwalk, Stamford, Bridgeport, and Danbury hospitals. Last week, students on the Navy, Gold, and Red teams got the assembly line in motion.  Older students showed younger students how to turn the 1,000 yards of solid fleece, and 1,000 yards of printed fleece, into roughly 500 blankets.  

“I loved making blankets for the families in the NICU,” said student Abby Neumann.

Unified Sports Ox Ridge 2018

On ‘Skills Day,’ Ox Ridge Continues Unique Role in Unified Sports

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Ox Ridge participated in its second Unified Sports “Skills Day” event recently as the only elementary school in the region sending a team. Unified Sports, which is a program associated with the Special Olympics, seeks to join students with and without a disability on sports teams for training and competition. All Unified Sports players are of similar age and matched by sport skill ability, according to the Special Olympics Connecticut website. The Special Olympics Unified Sports School Program, administered by CIAC, currently boasts a participation of more than 3,500 athletes and partners, in 200 schools throughout the state. Principal Luke Forshaw said the philosophy of Unified Sports is based on a simple idea: training and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

Garden Tokeneke School

Every Tokeneke Kid Gets To Plant Something in the School Garden

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It’s Spring! – really

And planting has started at the Tokeneke Elementary School garden. 

Starting in late April, the Tokeneke Edible Garden Committee brings in over 450 children to plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers in a fenced-off area adjacent to the school. In the garden, students plant vegetables like peas, carrots, arugula, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic, and flowers like sunflowers and zinnias, according to Sarah Madson, parent and head of the garden committee. Every child gets a chance to plant something in the garden and to learn where their food comes from, she said. The garden also serves as the backdrop for the Lunch Bunch program.  Parents can sign up to have lunch with their child in the garden.  The children, and parents, love the chance to eat outside and take in some fresh air, said Principal Mary Michelson.

Wall Erected During DHS Cafeteria Expansion Gets Decorated with Student Art

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Where some may have just seen a blank wall, a small group of Darien High School students saw a big canvas. Over the course of a few weeks, the 12 students transformed a temporary sheetrock wall put up during construction in the school’s cafeteria into a public art display honoring the Class of 2018. Art teacher Jaclyn Sammis said the students created the mural design — a stylized blue wave — at the request of Principal Ellen Dunn. The students, members of the Mural Painting class, worked together and created the first draft design (see image at right) using a school-issued iPad. The blue wave was drawn over a series of days.

Christian Ostberg graduation 6-17-16

Darien High School Graduation Date Set by Board of Education

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See also:

Darien High School Graduation Logistics: What to Expect, When and Where (June 17)

Following a recommendation of Superintendent Dan Brenner, the Darien Board of Education votes unanimously Tuesday night to set the date for Darien High School graduation for a date near the end of June. The last day of school for teachers across the district will be Friday, June 22, and for students, Thursday, June 21. That Thursday, June 21, will also be Graduation Day for Darien High School. Any event that closes school for a day or more could always mean that extra school days will be added, changing the dates, Brenner warned. The first day of summer school will be Monday, June 25 — so if for any reason the school year is lengthened, something would have to be done about that starting date.


Russian Performers Visit Darien Elementary Schools

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Members of the Barnya Russian Music Ensemble performed for students at all of the elementary schools in Darien. In the picture above they are sharing Russian folk songs, dances, stories, and language with the students at Tokeneke Elementary School. The full Barynya 20-plus member ensemble, made up of singers, dancers and musicians, will be performing at the Darien High School auditorium in a free public concert on Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m, said Rick Sadlon, Director of Music. The Barynya performances are possible because of a generous gift from the Darien Music for Youth organization. _________________

— Marc Marin is district director of instructional technology.

Royle School STEAM Week 2018

Royle Students Explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math After School

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During early dismissal days recently, Royle Elementary School students had a chance to explore a wide-range of science, art, robotics, and engineering activities after school. Known as STEAM Week, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM), more than 300 students had an opportunity to explore, tinker, and have a little fun. Through a robotics class, students were able to build their own dancing monkey and spinning top robots, and then code them to move using a program on Chromebooks. They also learned the properties of sound, including how sound can travel and be altered. In a Science activity, older kids experienced first hand Newton’s three Laws of Motion.

Darien Public Schools

Brenner to School Community: Sorry, I Should Have Delayed School [UPDATE: Vilification on Twitter]

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Darien Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner issued a public apology Monday to Darien parents of school children. He said he should have delayed the start of school. ____________
Update: Nasty Backlash on Twitter
Updated at 4:12 p.m.:

Brenner’s 5:17 a.m. tweet about not delaying the school day was met with harsh complaints from parents, including some insults, and complaints often combined with swearing, insults, scorn and vilification from others, most of whom identified themselves as students. Here’s Brenner’s tweet:


Here’s a sampling of the replies to that tweet (we’ve left out the swearing):

Lisa Valentine‏ @lisamillette71 

The heaviest snow is now thru 10a. Bad call.

Darien Public Schools

Darien Public Schools to Open, Then Go on Early Dismissal Schedule

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Darien Public Schools will open this morning, then run on an early dismissal schedule, Superintendent Dan Brenner announced early Wednesday. UPDATE, 5:30 a.m. — “The Early Learning Program 8:30 a.m. start will dismiss at 10:00 a.m./ Early Learning Program 9:30 a.m. start will be closed,” the school district said in an announcement emailed at 5:22 a.m.

UPDATE, 5:45 a.m. — The school district’s first emailed announcement of early dismissal listed Middlesex Middle School as being dismissed at 11 a.m. The district sent another email correcting that: Early dismissal for Middlesex is at 10:30 a.m., as the district’s early dismissal policy states. This is the early dismissal schedule, according to the school district website:

(1)  In the event of a Morning Emergency Dismissal due to inclement weather, all students, including kindergartners, will be dismissed according to the following schedule:

High School                            10:30 a.m.
Hindley, Royle, Tokeneke         11:00 a.m.

Middlesex                               10:30 a.m.
Holmes, Ox Ridge                   11:30 a.m.

All students will have the same bus stops as they had in the morning.  No lunches will be served at school on those days, but elementary students will have a snack prior to dismissal. FOR Early Learning Program (ELP) ONLY: ELP students at Ox Ridge, Royle, and Tokeneke will be dismissed at 10 a.m.
The Announcements

Update: 5:27 a.m. — Here’s the Darien Public Schools announcement via email at 5:22 a.m.:

Good morning,
Today is Wednesday, March 21st and the Darien Public Schools will be dismissing students early due to the weather forecast.  All activities scheduled for this afternoon are cancelled or will be rescheduled for a later date. Please check the district website for further updates.

DHS DECA Club twenty eighteen

Seven DHS Members of DECA Business Club Qualify for National Competition

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Excelling in the areas of finance, food, and sports, Darien High School DECA Club members made their mark at the recent 2018 DECA state competition. Overall, 80 DHS students competed at the Connecticut State DECA Conference in the areas of finance, business management, marketing, and human resources.  Over 1,100 students competed from high schools all over Connecticut.  DHS began to compete in the international business and entrepreneurship club three years ago. “We had our best year ever with 21 students placing in the top three of their events and 10 students in the top six,” said DECA adviser and DHS business education teacher Claudia Gray.