Timely News: Boy Scout Breathes New Life Into Outdoor Classroom

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Jul 312020

Just In Time For Students’ Return To School After Pandemic Lockdown

Troop 12 Eagle Project Volunteers

The aging and overgrown outdoor classroom at Race Brook Elementary School in Orange included decaying tree stump seats and dilapidated picnic benches and it was in dire need of renovation.

Frankie Cavallaro, a Boy Scout with Troop 12 in Milford and an RBS alumnus, saw an opportunity to serve his community while working toward achieving his Eagle Scout rank:

“The outdoor classroom was in pretty bad shape, and it occurred to me that this was the perfect way for me to transform it into a more inviting and usable space to which staff and students might escape for some fresh air and social distancing during the school day,” he said.

Cavallaro solicited area businesses for material donations and set to work in his home garage constructing new bench seating and decorating them with school colors. He enlisted 10 other scouts from his troop to spend a Saturday cleaning out the area, weeding, edging, spreading new pea stone, assembling, and painting picnic tables.

Mike Gray, Director of Business and Operations for Orange Public Schools, said, “His efforts have led to an inviting open-air space that will certainly be utilized by students and staff at Race Brook School. Frankie is a fine example of youth putting their leadership skills into action and giving back.”

Cavallaro would like to thank the following organizations for the generous materials and financial contributions that made this project possible: Ivy League Landscaping, Home Depot in Orange, Rings End in Orange, and the Race Brook School PTA.

He would also like to thank his troop, Mr. Gray, and his parents for their assistance and support, “I couldn’t have done it without them!”

Newly Updated Outdoor Classroom at Race Brook School


Job Opening At St. Joseph High School — Is It You They’re Looking For?

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Jul 222020

Here is an opportunity to put your Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education to good use. St. Joseph High School in Trumbull needs a new band and choral teacher.

Position Summary:

St. Joseph High School is seeking a highly motivated and inspiring Band and Choral teacher, with the drive to continue to build upon a strong music curriculum in the current challenging educational environment.


Instructional program:

  • Instruct music courses and clubs that may include but are not limited to Band, Honors Band, Choir, Honors Choir,  Steel Drum/Percussion, Jazz Band, and Musical Pit Orchestra (as well as teaching vocals to musical cast)
  • Collaborate with Performing Arts staff to showcase student work at two annual concerts and a spring musical
  • Successfully model instruction and implement differentiated instructional strategies that accelerate the skills and knowledge of the students.
  • Demonstrate expertise in virtual learning and the ability to support students with virtual learning tools and technologies
  • Ability to use existing technologies as well as a desire to continually improve skills and to learn new technologies
  • Demonstrate knowledge and use of assessment and diagnostic strategies in the arts
  • Prepare effective lesson plans, units of study, curriculum maps and articulate clear expectations to student learners

Classroom Supervision:

  • Create a welcoming space for students to explore their creative side and feel safe.
  • Promote positive self-concept in each student; provide encouragement to each student to develop his or her full potential.
  • Understand social and emotional adjustments of students.
  • Promote student awareness and respect for different cultures.
  • Promote performance etiquette and professionalism in the music classroom.
  • Maintain records of individual students’ progress through a variety of appropriate assessments. Provide feedback throughout the process.
  • Maintain accurate student attendance and tardiness records, as well as a wide range of grades with consistent posting throughout the year

Professional Responsibility:

  • Work in the interest of the students’ physical and emotional welfare to embrace a growth mindset.
  • Accept and incorporate suggestions for classroom improvement.
  • Participate in professional growth by attending workshops, taking courses, reading new literature, observing other teachers, attending in-service training meetings, reviewing computer programs, and offering in-service to staff.
  • Keep an inventory of materials, equipment, and supplies and work with the department chair to order necessary materials for the classroom.
  • Maintain contact with parents, counseling personnel as needed to evaluate students’ academic and social growth.
  • Take the initiative to work collaboratively with other school departments; share ideas with faculty members and administration.
  • Participate as appropriate in school-community public relations and successfully build community partnerships.
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing with a variety of people, including students, their parents, and staff.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music (Vocal, Instrumental, or otherwise) – preferred Music Education
  • Proficient in balancing multiple duties and responsibilities
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Creative problem solving 
  • Preferred performance experience within the past 5 years
  • Preferred 3-5 years of experience in a classroom setting
  • Ability to think creatively to continue to build a larger and more diverse music program and overall Fine Arts program

Send Resume to mcerritelli@sjcadets.org

Turkey Hill School Drama Club Performs Quarantine Virtual Show

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Jul 162020

The 5th and 6th-grade actors from Turkey Hill School Drama Club practiced three times a week in May for their live virtual show, “Ten Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine” by Don Zolidis, directed by Deborah Sansone

On Saturday, June 27 at 7 p.m. the Turkey Hill School Drama Club performed, “10 Ways to Survive a Life in Quarantine” by Don Zolidis. The live show was performed on a zoom webinar in front of an audience of more than 100 viewers from around the country!

Actors included 12 Turkey Hill School 5th and 6th graders who practiced for more than a month. According to Director Deborah Sansone, the actors took to the virtual stage very easily.

“They are already comfortable with the format of Zoom and they easily converted their stage knowledge to the new format,” Sansone said, “We had to use chat features to cue each other. They learned to work through technical difficulties and practiced improv in case something unexpected happened during the live performance.”

Sansone said soon the actors were sending encouragement and pats on the back through the chat function on Zoom.

The THS Drama Club is supported by the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation.

Eva and Caryn co-hosted the show.


In Spite Of Woodbridge Residents’ Efforts Amity Will Get Its Turf Field

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Jul 142020

During the various Amity High School Graduation events, I heard of a grassroots effort in Woodbridge to overturn the tri-town referendum decision to pass a turf field at the High School.

Parents, teachers, and athletes (most outgoing seniors) voiced a common concern. “What makes them think they have the right to do that?”

The last-ditch effort to block the approved turf field amid a pandemic went forward at two Woodbridge Planning and Zoning meetings this month.


After many years of trying to improve playing conditions for its athletic teams, and one failed referendum for an all-weather field in September 2013, Amity administrators worked tirelessly in 2019 to come up with a plan for a new sports complex at the high school.

A referendum was scheduled for December 4, 2019, which included two projects. The first project addressed improvements to the building and grounds facilities at all three schools. 

The second project aimed for improvements to the Amity Regional High School outdoor athletic facilities.  This project includes a complete upgrade of the athletic stadium, as well as upgrades to the competition field.  The athletic stadium was last improved 30 years ago, and almost all aspects of the stadium are at end-of-life. 

The asphalt track, constructed in 1999, would be replaced with a post-tensioned concrete track with an expected lifespan of 50 years or more.  The metal halide lights and wooden poles, installed in 1988, would be replaced with energy-efficient LED lights on metal poles.

An all-weather field would be installed, replacing the current sod field.  Installation of an all-weather field would increase the use of the stadium from its current single sport, football, to all six-field sports by adding competition space for girls’ field hockey, boys’ and girls’ soccer, and girls’ and boys’ lacrosse.

The proposal also included the installation of an LED scoreboard, which would allow the scoreboard to be adjusted to the sport or competition being played in the stadium.  Lastly, the proposal included enhancements to the current Amity competition field. This field, originally designed as a practice field, would be upgraded with permanent spectator bleachers and an ADA compliant walkway, and an LED scoreboard.


Public hearings were held to give tri-town residents opportunities to share their thoughts and any concerns about the projects.

Endless hours debating the safety of sod fields vs astroturf fields with health experts clarifying all the misinformation regarding alleged cancer-causing agents in the materials that would be used at Amity.

Hundreds of school athletic fields across the state and country have these fields with no documented health issues. Amity athletes play on these fields at away games all the time and no one ever complained of illness or injury from the field material.

The Referendum took place as scheduled with the following results

Recently, Woodbridge residents decided to fight back in order to get their way.

A small, but organized group of gadflies came together and spread the word that turf fields are deadly in many ways. •runoff would contaminate the underground water sources, •the shredded rubber causes cancer, etc, etc, etc, all arguments that were disproven during the public hearings last year.

They flooded the Town Planning and Zoning Commission with letters demanding that the project be rejected for those reasons and more.

On July 6, the Woodbridge TP&Z met online due to the COVID-19 restrictions on indoor gatherings and spent the evening reading the letters one after another until the chairman lost his voice. The meeting was continued until Monday evening, July 13.

Last night the Commissioners met online again and read letters from Woodbridge residents who opposed the plan and even some Orange residents who are in favor of it.

In the end, the facts won out over rumors and all other objections, and the original results of the December Referendum held strong.

Amity WILL have a new sports complex with a turf field. A groundbreaking will take place in the near future.


Amity’s 9-Minute Outdoor July Graduation Ceremony

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Jul 082020

Yes, that’s right, the 2020 Amity Graduation ceremony that took place on the football field on Tuesday morning was admittedly different than any other, but, it was well-planned and ran like clockwork.

About 34 students had signed up, but some did not attend for one reason or another.

Masks and social distancing were top priorities and each graduate and his or her parents were seated in their own little areas around the field.

To open it, School Principal Anna Mahon announced that the students had met all the requirements to receive their diplomas and then read off the names of the 28 students who chose to take advantage of this option (rather than last month’s drive-thru graduation event).

As their name was read, the student walked up to a table to retrieve his or her diploma. There was no presentation or hand-shaking, just grab and go.

The grads walked up the aisle to a waiting photographer to have their official portrait taken, then returned to their seats. No backflips victoriously raised hands or mad dashes to the fence to hug mom and dad. Just simply walking back to their seats.

(I apologize to one young man whose photo I did not get, you moved too fast and you were blurry)

Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Byars instructed the grads to move their tassels from the right to left and their graduation was official.

The entire ceremony took 9 minutes.

For health reasons, amid the pandemic, the traditional cap tossing was not permitted — what if someone picked up the wrong one? To add to how somber the ceremony was, there wasn’t one beach ball in sight. No bubbles either. Just well-behaved seniors sitting near their parents.

Congratulations to the Amity Administration for coming up with different options to make the final moments of the seniors’ final year special and as memorable as they could.

Finally, congratulations to the Class of 2020 for making the most of your most unusual senior year. Good Luck in all of your future endeavors.


Sign Up Now For Amity Adult And Continuing Education Virtual Classes

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Jul 062020

Amity Adult and Continuing education will be holding summer 2020 courses ONLINE!!  We have many courses available including SAT Prep Courses, Health, and Wellness Courses, Finance Courses, Fitness Courses, Crafting Courses, and many others!
Register today as some courses are starting this week!!  Take a summer course with us online right from your own home!!  This is a great way to stay active while we are home during this unprecedented time!
We have great instructors who are very excited to offer courses to you VIRTUALLY!
Register today!!
Click HERE to view the new catalog!  

Enjoy exploring this catalog. If you have any questions, please call 203-397-4188.

Questions?  E-mail us:  philip.dolan@amityregion5.org OR kim.doran@amityregion5.org

Wait, What? A Popular Orange Police Sergeant Retired This Weekend

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Jun 292020

Chief Gagne presents Sgt. Aquino with his retirement badge.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of our local police officers. Naturally, after all this time, I’ve seen so many of them retire and move on. Some, I’ve stayed in touch with, others are just gone with the wind. But I still remember each and every one of them.

Pre-pandemic I most likely would have gotten a heads-up and had an opportunity to say goodbye, but this weekend that didn’t happen and one of my absolute favorite members of the OPD left without even the slightest hint.

There was only one other time that I cried when one of my boys in blue left, and that was back in 2012, soon after opening Orange LIve when Asst Police Chief Ed Koether retired after 30 years on the job.

So, who is the second Orange cop that made me cry? Believe it or not, Sgt John Aquino, 53, one of the kindest, friendliest, most understanding, and professional officers I’ve ever had the pleasure to have known.

Over the past 25 years, I always looked forward to seeing his smiling face at the Orange Country Fair, Firemen’s Carnival, Senior Health and Safety Fair, parades, and numerous public events. When my granddaughter was little and I was clueless about the newer child safety seats, it was John who helped teach me how to install it properly.

If I locked myself out of my car, which happened a lot, I was never embarrassed if he was the responding officer.

John served in the Patrol Division from 1995 to 2007 and was the  Youth and D.A.R.E. Officer from 2007 until his promotion to Sergeant on July 5, 2013.

I remember how amazing it was the day Detective Aquino was sworn-in to the rank of Sergeant, before a standing-room-only crowd of family, friends, fellow officers, and the three Orange elementary school principals. See VIDEO HERE.

He was then assigned to the midnight shift as a Road Sergeant. 

Then, this past Saturday, June 27, Sgt. Aquino worked his last shift with the Orange Police Department after 25 years of dedicated service to the Town of Orange.

Without much fanfare, John retired with Chief Robert Gagne presenting him with a plaque and his retirement badge.

Community Minded Officer

John was a member of the ATV unit, many times he participated in the Special Olympics Torch Run, as the D.A.R.E. Officer, he drove the Easter Bunny to the Lions Easter Egg Hunt at the Orange Fairgrounds, and he participated in the DEA’s Drug Take-Back Day for several years. 

In November 2016 he was one of the Orange police who took on a scruffy look to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in Chloe Clemens’ name. It was the last time I can remember when the members of the department were allowed to go unshaven – but only for a month.



Sgt Aquino, 53, was a 25-year veteran of the Orange CT Police Department.

He graduated from the University of Bridgeport in 1989 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies.

He was appointed as a probationary officer in Orange on June 23, 1995.

He was assigned to the patrol division from June 1995 to February 2008.

The Aquino Family in 2013 (Sgt. Swearing-in)

In February 2008 the was assigned to the Investigative Services Unit, serving as the Youth and DARE Officer and in the capacity of School Resource Officer.

Sgt. Aquino went to school to become a child safety technician (installing child safety seats in vehicles).

He and wife, Francine have been married 25 years (on July 19) and they have two sons, John and Michael.

Congratulations John, thank you for your service and your friendship over the years. I wish you only happiness and success in your future endeavors. You are already missed.

Happy Anniversary to you and Francine.



Framework for Connecticut Schools During the 2020-21 Academic Year

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Jun 252020

Yes, your children WILL be going back to school this fall.

There are a lot of rules set up for the 2020-2021 school year, comprised in cooperation with students and parents. The one sticking point that many are not thrilled about is that kids will be required to wear masks all day, which may very well prove to be difficult, especially for those younger than 10.

This is what the state has provided:

Guiding Principles

As Connecticut schools plan to reopen, the guidance and considerations outlined in this framework are grounded in six guiding principles:

  1. Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff;
  2. Allowing all students the opportunity to return into the classrooms full time starting in the fall;
  3. Monitoring the school populations and, when necessary, potentially canceling classes in the future to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread;
  4. Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities who are emerging from this historic disruption;
  5. Fostering strong two-way communication with partners such as families, educators and staff; and
  6. Factoring into decisions about reopening the challenges to the physical safety and social-emotional well-being of our students when they are not in school.

These guiding principles require all districts to develop their plans with a certain level of consistency, however, they retain wide discretion in implementing approaches to reopening given unique local considerations.

School districts must balance their planning with contingency plans to provide robust, blended learning or remote learning for all grades in the event that a school, district, or region has to cancel or limit in-person classes due to health precautions.

Main Operational Considerations


  • Districts should emphasize grouping students by the same class/group of students and teachers (into a cohort) so each team functions independently as much as possible. Consider this methodology by grade levels.
  • Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K-8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9-12.

Social Distancing and Facilities

  • Review building space and reconfigure available classroom space, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, to maximize social distancing, consistent with public health guidelines in place at that time.


  • Districts should plan for buses to operate close to capacity with heightened health and safety protocols, including requiring all students and operators to wear face coverings.
  • Plans must be developed to activate increased social distancing protocols based upon community spread.

Face Coverings

  • All staff and students will be expected to wear a protective face covering or face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when inside the school building, except for certain exceptions including when teachers are providing instruction.

Ensuring Equity and Access

  • Equitable access to education is a top priority that supports a full-time in-school model by mitigating any barriers to education or opportunity gaps that increased during the pandemic. Efforts to support equity, close the opportunity gap, and provide a wide range of support for students in the state are best achieved with in-person schooling opportunities for all ages.
  • Districts should identify gaps and develop action plans for reopening that specifically address inclusion, equity, and access for all learners with strategies and clearly defined action steps.

Connex Presents Giuliano With Scholarship Award

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Jun 242020

Lauryn Giuliano of Orange (pictured with her parents) was the recipient of the Nicolas G. Hackett Memorial Scholarship, an award named in honor of a longtime volunteer at Connex Credit Union.

Lauryn is currently majoring in Psychology at Southern Connecticut State University, where she maintains a 4.0 GPA while serving as a presidential student ambassador and mathematics peer mentor.

In high school, Lauryn also completed more than 415 hours of volunteer service working with organizations such as the West Haven Animal Shelter and Locket’s Meadow Horse Rescue Farm in Bethany.

For more information on the scholarship program or Connex Credit Union, visit connexcu.org.

Goddard School Gives Preschoolers A Proper Send-Off

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Jun 232020

While not being able to host a traditional graduation ceremony in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, an Orange area preschool came up with a way to give their graduates a proper send-off, while remaining socially responsible.

Earlier this month, teachers and staff from The Orange, CT Goddard School traveled from Milford to Guilford spreading cheer by providing each graduate with a mini-parade celebration. The students saw their favorite teachers and administrators, received their diploma and a gift bag of goodies, along with a graduation sign and tee-shirt.

Kimberly Kick, the on-site owner of The Goddard School in Orange, said that graduation is not only a celebration for the children and parents but for the faculty as well. “It’s been a journey filled with excitement and friendships, learning, and laughter. Many of the children have been with us since they were infants,” she said. “While we’ll miss seeing them on a daily basis, we’re confident that they are well prepared for the road ahead.”

“Many of the children and families come back to visit us and share their accomplishments with us long after their Goddard School graduation. It’s a wonderful feeling,” Kimberly said.

For more information on The Goddard School, visit www.goddardschool.com.