Sheri West

Recent Articles

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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Board of Ed Member Calls for More Input from Parents Regarding Computer Use at Middle School

Parents should have a say in some curriculum decisions regarding the use of computers in the classroom, rather than mere access to the trusted New Canaan Public Schools educators now making them, according to one member of the Board of Education. Some parents closely monitor their children’s “screen time” at home and the study of how computer use affects young people is a rapidly developing area, Maria Naughton said during the school board’s regular meeting last week. “We don’t have a district curriculum committee in the district, which I think we should,” Naughton said during the group’s meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “And I would like to know: How will this impact the curriculum for fifth and sixth grade?” said Naughton, who has called for greater parent collaboration in the past. “I have had parents contact me. Continue Reading →

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District: After Years of Steady Growth, Enrollment in Public Schools Projected To Flatten

The modest, steady growth in enrollment that New Canaan Public Schools has seen in the past decade is expected to level out for a period, and possibly decline somewhat, according to new projections that district officials cited Monday night. Overall, the 4,182 students currently enrolled from kindergarten to 12th grade is projected to grow by just two students next academic year, to 4,184, according to Gary Kass, the public schools’ director of human resources. Longer-term projections from the New England School Development Council, a nonprofit organization based in Marlborough, Mass., call for a decrease of about 90 students overall over the next five years—mostly at the middle school level—and further declines over the subsequent five years, Kass said during a regular meeting of the Board of Education. “At Saxe Middle School, the demographer is projecting a very slight increase of three students for next year and at the high school a decrease of seven students,” Kass told board members during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “So what you can see from what our demographer is projecting is a period of amazingly stable enrollment, when you are talking about a difference year-over-year of under 10 students at each location. Continue Reading →

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