Sheri West

Recent Articles

‘We Do Not Want To Permanently Damage Kids That Make Mistakes’: Board of Ed Balks at Allowing K-9 Police Dogs in Schools

Saying they need more information and time to reflect on what would follow from allowing a police K-9 dog to search for narcotics in New Canaan schools, members of the Board of Education on Monday night decided to forgo voting on a new policy that would introduce the practice. Even if authorization from school administrators was required for K-9 searches of lockers or other areas, allowing them “has the potential to change kids’ lives,” according to Board of Ed Chair Dionna Carlson. 

“It is an important thing,” she said during the board’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We all agree we want drug-free schools. But I think it is also an important thing to say that we have hired experts in their field to deal with kids in crisis. And so we want to do the right thing to keep our schools drug-free, but we also do not want to permanently damage kids that make mistakes. Continue Reading →

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Camp LiveGirl Concludes Fourth Year of Week Long Camp

Inspiration, strength, perseverance, personal growth, and confidence are not words many young girls are used to hearing every day. Yet at Camp LiveGirl, where 5th- through 12th-graders gather together with adult mentors, the girls learn what it truly means to have their “power.”

The organization that runs the camp, LiveGirl, was founded in 2015 by New Canaan resident Sheri West after her own family’s transformative experience with the Fresh Air Fund. Launched with a group of 80 hosting girls for a week in the summer, Camp LiveGirl has grown into providing a group of 140 girls from all over Fairfield County that attracts volunteer counselors and high-profile speakers and mentors that believe in empowering young women. LiveGirl has also launched year-round efforts dedicated to provide development and mentorship opportunities for girls. With guest keynote speakers such as New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver, paralympian Jessica Long and Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame education director Lena Harwood Pacheco, the campers are taught life lessons such as the value of failure and historic struggles women have faced as well as gaining exposure to female role models. Continue Reading →

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District Officials Release School Start Times Survey Results; Public-Facing Committee To Convene in the Fall

An internal district working group has found that New Canaan should continue researching “slightly later start and end times” for the middle and high school and “slightly earlier” times for elementary schools, according to research that the superintendent of schools made public Monday night. As it considers whether to make changes so that high schoolers aren’t starting so early, New Canaan Public Schools “should prioritize student sleep and time for homework in making scheduling decisions,” according to a presentation that Dr. Bryan Luizzi shared during a meeting of the Board of Education. The Board of Ed remains far from reaching a decision—its members talked about convening a public-facing committee in September and reiterated that nothing will happen until the 2019-20 academic year, in part for budgeting reasons. While Luizzi reviewed much of the scientific evidence surrounding adolescent sleep and health (“The research has shown me that this is an important consideration for schools,” he said, adding that “the science of it certainly seems to be pointing to a need for schedules to be developed that facilitate student sleep”), an April survey from Hanover Research—of 1,312 middle and high school students, 1,126 parents and guardians, 379 school staff members and seven people from the wider community—found that respondents perceive starting school later would have a negative effect on homework (as well as activities outside of school). Yet the survey also found that respondents believe starting earlier complicates parents’ work schedules and before-school care, and has a negative impact on participation in school publications and performing arts programs.

“Ultimately, I don’t know what the answer is going to be,” Luizzi said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School and attended by more than 50 parents. Continue Reading →

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Faces of New Canaan: Hadley Pollet

Hadley Pollet, a 1988 New Canaan High School graduate, moved back to town one year ago after growing up here (and attending the great, bygone Center School). She returned to New Canaan after attending NYU, moving to Boston, attending RISD and launching her own fashion line and business. A success story about an entrepreneur-and-artist following her talents and doing what she loves, Pollet in recent years has become involved with LiveGirl, the locally founded girl empowerment organization, as an inspirational speaker. She and much of her line are the central figures of a May 12 LiveGirl “FemPowered Benefit” at the Carriage Barn Arts Center. In this installment of “Faces of New Canaan,” we talk to Pollet about growing up here, her singular career arc, returning to New Canaan and the LiveGirl benefit (see transcription below). Continue Reading →

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‘It Has Stretched Down to Elementary School’: Police Address ‘Vaping’ Concerns with Board of Ed

New Canaan kids as young as those in elementary school are exposed to and experimenting with e-cigarettes, inhaling the aerosols produced by vaporizers in an increasingly prevalent practice known as “vaping,” officials said Monday night. Though long-term health effects aren’t yet known, vaping increases heart rates and blood pressure and is “kind of terrifying” in its use among kids, New Canaan Police Officer Jeff Deak told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting. “Quite honestly, the kids think it’s a safe alternative” to cigarettes, Deak, the school resource officer at Saxe Middle School, said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “It has stretched down to elementary school,” Deak said. He added: “Some of the kids just think it’s fun—it’s fun to blow white smoke in the air. Continue Reading →

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