December 17, 2017

In Tight Contest, Valley-Old Lyme Swim Team Ultimately Falls to H-K

On Sept. 28 at Haddam-Killingworth, the co-op swim team of Lyme-Old Lyme and Valley competed against Haddam-Killingworth. Despite a strong performance by Old Lyme-Valley, Haddam-Killingworth won the meet in the end with a score of 76 to 61.

Valley/Lyme-Old Lyme placed first in the following races:
-medley relay (Kim Beradis, Kaeleigh O’Donnell, Lily Cox, and Connie Pan)
-200 yard freestyle (Lily Cox)
-200 yard individual medley (Kaeleigh O’Donnell)
-100 yard freestyle (Connie Pan)
-500 yard freestyle (Lily Cox)
-200 yard freestyle relay (Kim Beradis, Kaeleigh O’Donnell, Lily Cox, and Connie Pan)
-100 yard backstroke (Kim Beradis)
-100 yard breaststroke (Kaeleigh O’Donnell)

Haddam-Killingworth came first in the 50 yard freestyle (Kiera Bragdon).

Valley/Lyme-Old Lyme notched second in the 50 yard freestyle (Connie Pan).

Valley/Lyme-Old Lyme divers Anna Donato and Britney Detuzzi earned Honorable Mentions in the 50 yard freestyle coming in respectively 5th and 6th.

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Region 4 Board of Education Acquires Property Adjacent to Valley Regional High School

DEEP RIVER – The Region 4 Board of Education has acquired a 34-acre parcel of land adjacent to Valley Regional High School for $350,000. The transaction closed on Aug. 31, 2017.

“This acquisition is great news for Valley Regional High School and the future of our community,” said Chris Riley, Chairman of the Region 4 Board of Education. “While there are no plans for the property at this time, the Board felt very strongly that the opportunity to acquire adjacent property was a smart investment for the future of our region.”

The Region 4 Board, consisting of three representatives from each of the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, voted unanimously to make the purchase. The First Selectmen in each of the towns were aware of the opportunity and all expressed their support for the acquisition. The purchase was funded with $350,000 from Region’s sinking funds, eliminating the need to bond or secure a mortgage. The sinking funds currently have a collective balance of $125,000.

For the past several years, the Region 4 Board has adopted the practice of returning 50 percent of any surplus to member towns and depositing 50 percent into sinking fund accounts. With a surplus of nearly $300,000 likely for the past school year, approximately $150,000 will be returned to the Region 4 sinking funds accounts once a final audit is completed. With regular deposits into the sinking funds, the entire purchase could be repaid
in three to five years.

The opportunity was first presented to the board in February of this year, and the board voted to direct Bruce Glowac to enter into negotiations to purchase the property. After several months of discussion with the previous owner and a substantial price reduction (the property was originally listed at $500,000), a deal was reached.

Superintendent Ruth Levy provided an update on the purchase at the September Region 4 Board meeting.

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TTYS Offers Pediatric First Aid, CPR, Babysitting Training Course, July 17-18

AREAWIDE — Tri-Town Youth Services is offering a Pediatric First Aid and CPR course along with a Babysitter Training Certificate program.  This course provides a great opportunity to help youth aged 12-17 build self-confidence as well as  gain leadership and decision-making skills. Completion of this course is a plus on a Job Bank application.

The $75 fee includes instruction, books and certificate.

The summer session will be held on July 17-18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High St. in Deep River.  Classes fill quickly, so prompt registration is encouraged – online (www.tritownys.org) or by calling 860-526-3600.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. The organization coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

 

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See Piano Prodigy Ethan Bortnick at Valley Regional, Thursday; Benefits Sister Cities Essex Haiti


AREAWIDE — Celebrate one year of open doors of the Deschapelles Community Library with world famous piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick.  Don’t miss an exceptional opportunity to see this versatile, teenage piano prodigy coupled with a chance to support the continued education and programs offered by Sister Cities Essex Haiti (SCEH) for the community of Deschapelles, Haiti.

Bortnick will perform at Valley Regional High School (VRHS) on Thursday, April 6, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  Adult general admission is $30 and student general admission is $20. Tickets are available online at this link.

Bortnick was the youngest performer at the 2010 We Are the World for Haiti and has performed for and/or recorded with celebrities such as Elton John, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Josh Groban, Tony Bennet, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli and Gloria Estefan, and has been a guest on Oprah and The Tonight Show.

Recognized by the Guinness World Records as “The World’s Youngest Solo Musician to Headline His Own Concert Tour,” pianist, singer and composer Bortnick has been performing around the world, raising over $40 million for charities across the globe.

In this concert at VRHS, Bortnick will perform a range of music that appeals to people of all ages. Hear songs from The Beatles to Elton John to Broadway, from Chopin to Neil Diamond, from Michael Jackson to Motown to rock ‘n roll, works by great classical composers and everything in between. His show, The Power of Music continues to be one of highest rated specials on PBS.

Sister Cities Essex Haiti is a non-profit organization established in 2010 after the devastating earthquake in Haiti and partners with friends in Deschapelles, Haiti to establish programs, which expand educational and cultural opportunities. The organization’s major project was the creation of a community library, which opened its doors in January 2016. The library has become an integral part of the community of Deschapelles and hosts a variety of programs for children and adults.

Sister Cities Essex Haiti supports other projects including a musical collaboration among musicians and music lovers in southeastern Connecticut and Deschapelles, an early education teacher training project, a cross-cultural exchange project with students from CT, and a tennis project.

Sister Cities Essex Haiti continues to engage in initiatives in southeastern Connecticut that increase awareness of Haiti and its unique culture.

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Region 4 Returns 2015-16 Surplus to Towns, Sinking Fund

AREAWIDE — On Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, the Region 4 Board of Education approved a report from the accounting firm of Mahoney and Sabol that reflects a surplus of $157,046 from the 2015-2016 academic year. “This audit is a great endorsement of our continued focus on meeting the needs of our students while keeping a very close eye on the bottom line …” said Chris Riley, Region 4 Board of Education Chairman.

Per the Region 4 Board of Education policy, the surplus is split with 50 percent returned to member towns, and 50 percent deposited in the Region’s Sinking Fund accounts. Accordingly, member towns will receive refunds as follows:

  • Chester $18,838
  • Deep River $24,876
  • Essex $34,809

In addition, $78,523 will be deposited in the Region 4 Sinking Funds allocated as follows:

  • Paving $26,175
  • Flooring $26,174
  • Field and Repair $26,174
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Valley Regional Celebrates Class of 2016 With Memories, Music and Merriment

In the distance on the bleachers, the Valley Regional High School Class of 2016. All photos by Laura Matesky of lauramateskyphotography.com

In the distance, the Valley Regional High School Class of 2016 stands on the bleachers. All photos by Laura Matesky of lauramateskyphotography.com

A clear blue sky accompanied by 75° weather and a gentle breeze created the perfect ambience for the Valley Regional High School’s (VRHS) 151 students of the Class of 2016 to graduate this past Wednesday, June 15.

The girls of the Class of 2016 filed into the stadium.

The girls of the Class of 2016 file into the stadium.

Teacher Kevin Woods (wearing sunglasses) filed in with the faculty.

Teacher and boy’s varsity basketball coach Kevin Woods (wearing sunglasses) files in with the faculty.

Valley Regional Principal Michael Barile hugs this year's VRHS Hall of Fame inductee.

Valley Regional Principal Michael Barile hugs this year’s VRHS Hall of Fame inductee.

Valedictorian Christina Mitchel.

Valedictorian Christina Mitchel (above) and Salutatorian Acacia Bowden (below delivered heartfelt and inspirational speeches that led the graduates to reflect on the past, the present, and the future.

Honor Essayist Mary Proteau (below) completed the triumvirate with an equally compelling speech.

Honor Essayist Mary Proteau.

 

While the students gave their speeches, the dignitaries listened attentively.

Principal ?? beamed as he listened to the speeches.

Michael Barile, VRHS Pricipal, smiles broadly as he listens to the speeches.

Several students in the graduating class lightened the mood with two musical numbers.
The bright Scottish tune, “Loch Lomond” was sung by Valley’s senior ensemble choir, including sopranos Angelina Annino, Miranda Holland, Carly Zuppe, Emma Colby, Eme Carlson, Avery Carlson, and Erica Vaccaro; altos Cassidy French, Leslie Clapp, Jordan Adams­Sack, Joy Molyneux, Amanda Hull, Caitlin Glance, and Rachel Breault; tenor Dilan Rojas; and basses John Cappezzone, Brooks Robinson, Riley Sullivan, and Will Elliot. This song showcased seniors Dilan Rojas, Emma Colby, Carly Zuppe, and Eme Carlson.

Valley Regional's Senior Ensemble sang 'Loch Lomond' and "I lived' during the event.

Valley Regional’s Senior Ensemble sang ‘Loch Lomond’ and “I lived’ during the event.

The second musical song, a cover of “I Lived”, by One Republic, was performed by singers Dilan Rojas, Carly Zuppe, and John Cappezzone, supported by Tyler Atkinson on the guitar and Brooks Robinson on drums.

Senior Class Treasurer Julia Hammond and Secretary Katie Amara presented the Class Gift.

Senior Class Treasurer Julia Hammond and Secretary Katie Amara presented the Class gift of benches for the art hallway during the ceremony as well.

The presentation of diplomas began ...

The presentation of diplomas began …

Girl_receives_diploma

… and continued … with Region 4 Superintendent Dr. Ruth Levy shaking each graduate’s hand …

... and ended!

… and ended!

 

Hat_toss

The evening culminated when the class tossed their caps high into the air, symbolizing their level of energy and high ambition for the next chapter of their lives.

When the ceremony was complete, all that remained were fond memories ... and a handful of hats on the ground.

When the ceremony was complete, all that remained were fond memories … and a handful of hats scattered on the ground.

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Ann Carl Receives “Making A Difference” Award from Essex Congregational Church

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The First Congregational Church in Essex presented its “Making A Difference” Award to Valley Regional High School graduated senior Ann E. Carl of Chester (front row center) at a recent ceremony at the church. Family and members of the church’s Justice and Witness Committee who gathered for the award announcement are: (front row L-R) committee member Delcie McGrath of Essex, parents Elizabeth Carl and Joseph Carl of Chester; committee member Mary-Lawrence Bickford of Essex; (back L-R) church pastor Rev. Ken Peterkin, and committee members Emily Williams of Essex, Sharyn Nelson of Ivoryton and Mike Hennessy of East Lyme.

ESSEX – The First Congregational Church of Essex, UCC has presented its “Making A Difference” Award to Ann E. Carl, a graduated senior from Valley Regional High School.

Sponsored by the Justice and Witness Committee of the church, the $1,000 “Making A Difference” award is given to a senior at Valley Regional High School whose actions continue to challenge those ideas and practices that result in the exclusion of others. These can be small actions: an effort to connect groups or individuals with different ideas and different experiences, acts of inclusiveness, a community project or school activity that unites people in a positive cause or attempts to seek out individuals needing support.

The daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Carl of Chester, award recipient Annie is taking a “Gap Year” to travel and work in Ecuador, the Western United States and South Africa. The “Making A Difference” Award will go towards her fundraising for those efforts.

During her years at VRHS, Annie was a member of the National Honor Society and was active in soccer, track, the Interact Club and the Steering Committee. She has helped to raise funds for “Sharing To Learn,” a non-profit to help the village of Makuleke, South Africa; “CT Brain Freeze,” a polar plunge held by the National Brain Tumor Society; and a soccer game to promote awareness of pediatric cancer.

Other projects that Annie was involved in during her student career include “Tap Is Back Campaign/Chester Cares Initiative” to promote reusable water bottles; “Simply Smiles” Mission Trip to South Dakota to work on the Cheyenne Sioux Reservation; ICVR Radio, promoting accomplishments of local high school students; and a Hiking Sunday to encourage teens to exercise outdoors.

 

 

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Hambor’s School-to-Career Program at VRHS Celebrates 10 Successful Years

The 10th Annual Partnership Celebration brought interns and their mentors together to enjoy food and farewells.

The 10th Annual Partnership Celebration brought interns and their mentors together for food and farewells.

AREAWIDE — Ten years ago Valley Regional High School (VRHS) School-to-Career Consultant Mary Hambor started a program for students at the school interested in finding out more about jobs in the real world with five internships.  On May 26 this year, at the 10th Annual Partnership Celebration, she described how during the 2015-16 academic year, she had placed 95 seniors and seven juniors in a total of 102 internships.

Poster boards listed all the businesses and organizations which had taken interns during the 2015-16 academic year.

Poster boards listed all the businesses and organizations which had taken interns during the 2015-16 academic year.

Describing the success of the program as “very rewarding,” a delighted Hambor noted that she felt its “goal [had been] achieved” in that it had now become, “a comprehensive internship program … offering invaluable hands-on experience.”  She expressed her appreciation to all those who had taken on interns during the year and the VRHS administration saying, “I continually feel blessed to be part of such a supportive community.”

Dr. Dave Scruggs of Deep River Animal Hospital stands with Mary Hambor, VRHS School-to-Career Cordinator.

Dr. Dave Scruggs of Deep River Animal Hospital stands with Mary Hambor, VRHS School-to-Career Cordinator.

Many of the student interns spoke about their experiences during the celebration.  Katie Amara and Maddy Ball described how at Deep River Animal Hospital, they had “everyday learned something new,” including “holding a few snakes” and “how to draw blood,” summing up the internship as one in which they, “had learned a lot more than we expected.”

Anastasia Cusack-Mercedez explained that as a direct result of her internship with Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services (IRIS) in New Haven she now knew that she “would like to work for a non-profit.”

Sevigny Fortin said he had been, “very fortunate” to work in the State Prosecutor’s office at New London Superior Court with Attorney Paul Narducci and had even been involved with work on a murder trial. He believed he had benefited from “an opportunity not many high schoolers have,” noting, “I have been very fortunate to work with a mentor so passionate and helpful.”

Mary Hambor (right) stands with Ibby Carothers of iCRV Radio and the students who interned at the radio station.

Mary Hambor (right) stands with Ibby Carothers of iCRV Radio and the students who interned at the radio station.

Hannah Halsey spoke about the experience that she and several of her peers had enjoyed interning at iCRV Radio in Chester and then Ivoryton. She said it was, “a really great learning experience during which she and her friends had “learned about marketing” and acquired many new skills, such as “how to operate a database.”  The interns had actually hosted a radio show at one point!

Sometimes the students explained that the internships had caused them to experience a change in their planned careers.  Tina Mitchell, who had worked at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, had gone into her internship believing she was “interested in politics,” but during her time working with a policy analyst in the House Speaker’s office, determined that she had “found a home in policy.”

Other students like Elizabeth Forsythe freely declared, “I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” but went on to say that her internship at Aaron Manor with Karyn Cotrona had taught her “what HR is all about.”  She thanked her mentors for giving her “the experience to explore what she wanted to do.”

Our very own wonderful ValleyNewsNow.com intern, Maggie Klin.

Our very own ValleyNewsNow.com wonderful intern, Maggie Klin!

Several of the mentors took the opportunity to say publicly how the internship had gone from their angle.  Rebecca Foley from IRIS said, “Anastasia did an incredible job” and noted that she had gone far beyond the call of her internship and raised $827 for the organization in her own time.

Dr. Dave Scruggs of Deep River Animal Hospital commented that when he had first been asked to take an intern, he just said, “No.”  Then he met with the students and was “so impressed” to the extent that — speaking of this year’s interns — , “I would hire both of these young ladies today,” adding in words that seemed to sum up the universal experience of the mentors, “Every student from this high school has achieved the bar … and gone beyond it.”

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VRHS Students Finish Strong at State’s Robotics Competition

Valley robotics Relaxing after their second competition

Valley robotics relaxing after their second place finish

REGION 4 – Valley Regional High School was among 40 teams from Connecticut and Massachusetts that convened at two weekend-long First Robotics’ Competitions (FRC) New England held in March and April of this year. The April event took place at Hartford Public High School, April 1-3, and officials of the school said it was the biggest event in the state related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM education.

In only their second year with a robotics team, Valley Regional High School’s “Human Error” took second place at the March competition held in Waterbury, beating out nearly 30 other teams. Then, on day one of the Hartford event, Human Error placed second overall but ultimately dropped in rank on the final day just missing the cut to advance.  Last year Valley’s team was awarded Rookie of the Year.

“It’s a little disappointing that we didn’t get picked for an alliance in order to advance, but we accomplished every one of our goals set for the robot we built and we all feel really good about that,” said Valley sophomore Rocket Otte.

Being Otte’s first time with the Valley team, he described the competition experience as “electric” and “exciting” and like no other. He explained he really appreciated the spirit of cooperation among all the teams.

“I really like how FRC organizes their events. They have this term called ‘gracious professionalism’ where they encourage all the teams to cooperate with each other in alliances and helping out with tools and equipment. If you’re missing a part you can post it and other teams will help out regardless. That’s really cool.”

Valley’s team Human Error, made up of about 30 students, spent more than 200 hours working after school and on weekends to build and refine the robot’s functionality. Each member or specific group works on a particular aspect of the robot, from sensors, to gears, to bumpers to programming, using math, science, logic and other educational disciplines. But the key is teamwork.

“Working collaboratively and coordinating skills and talents is what happens in this space; students determine themselves who does what to get the robot working, they organize themselves; the other teachers, mentors and myself are on the sidelines offering guidance and support when needed,” explained Valley Biology teacher Dr. Peano.

Another key element to the team is programming skills. This year that effort was led by rookie member and sophomore Sam Paulson, who worked in the Java programming language to accomplish the task of instructing the robot’s functions, programming it to drive and move its metal arm.

“Programming is something I learned myself with online sites and it’s something that interests me, so when I joined the team I offered to work on that. I learned programming the robot to drive is easier than programming the arm to move,” said Paulson.

He added, “I learned a lot this year and I’ll be able to do a lot more next year like make the robot do more complex tasks. But for this year I was content with what our team did and how the robot worked.”

In the end the competition was more than winning or losing. It was about brainpower, creativity, collaboration and having fun, all done in an environment outside the usual classroom setting.

Valley Regional High School team roster:
Alexandro Adamson, Tanner Aikens, Samantha Bartlett, Ian Bott, Matt Caron, Allie Champion, Gavin Collins, Jaedyn Correa, Jared Dompier, Meagan Gephart, Samuel Griswold, Michael Johnson, Nate Luscomb, Patrick Myslik, Nicholas Otte, Samuel Paulson, Cooper Robbins, Francis Stino, Sam Swap, Nolan Tackett, Ethan West
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Next Session of Summer Co-op for Tri-Town Middle School Students Begins July 11

2015 Co-oREGION 4 — Tri-Town Youth Services will kick off its three-week summer Co-op 2016 with “Water Week,” which will take place June 27-30.  Each day will start at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. at Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street, Deep River.  The week includes trips to Ocean Beach, Huck Finn, Brownstone and Lake Compounce.

Session III, July 11-14, is “Equine Adventure,” which includes learning about horses, their care and riding lessons.  Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

These programs are open to students entering grades 7, 8 or 9 who live in Chester, Deep River or Essex.

For information and registration, call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600, or visit www.tritownys.org

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John Proctor Wins 2016 Generativity Award from Tri-Town Youth Services

 

Gail Beck, director of Tri-Town Youth Services, present award to John Proctor

Gail Beck, director of Tri-Town Youth Services, presents Generativity Award to John Proctor

REGION 4 – Tri-Town Youth Services’ 2016 Generativity Award was recently presented to John Proctor, Superintendent of Region 4 Schools, 1986-1998. John and his wife, Sherry, have been residents of Ivoryton since 1986, when he began his role of Superintendent of Schools here.

Upon retirement, John held a position at UConn, where he supervised teachers as well as student administrators. Over the years, he has made numerous presentations on the Civil War.

When John was Superintendent of Region 4 Schools, he said enthusiastically he was “here for the kids.” He made it a point to attend numerous school functions such as sports games, proms and banquets, and he was frequently seen in all schools.  His philosophy holds that each child is an individual with unique expectations, strengths and needs.  He believes students need to be informed, thinking citizens with well-developed character.  Over the years, he promoted youth developmental assets, including diversity.  He supported including social emotional programming in Region 4 schools.

John Proctor has received numerous awards. In Region 16 he was named Educational Leader of the Year.  A magazine, “Executive Educator,” named him as one of the best 100 small school superintendents.  A professional organization, Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents, presented him with their Emeritus Award for 45 years of service.

Tri-Town Youth Services has presented a Generativity Award annually since 2005. Recipients of the award are people who, over time, have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to youth and have contributed significantly to building youth developmental assets.  Previous awardees include: Marilyn Malcarne, Rick Stabbins, Pat Kosky, Jane Cavanaugh, Ingrid Walsh, Rev. Tim Haut, Linda Hall, Barbara Nidzgorski, Phil Miller, Dr. Ruth Levy and Michael Fearon.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

 

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VRHS Student Art Show on View at Essex Art Association

"Pink Mermaid" by Kasey O'Rourke is one of the pieces to be featured in this year's VRHS Student Art Show

“Pink Mermaid” by Kasey O’Rourke is one of the pieces to be featured in this year’s VRHS Student Art Show

2016 ESAA Poster aREGION 4 – The 2016 Valley Regional High School (VRHS) Student Art Show at the Essex Art Association will be open daily to the public the week of April 11 through April 15, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

The Essex Art Association hosts this show each year and gives away over $1,100 in prize awards to VRHS students.

An opening reception was held Wednesday, April 13, from 4 to 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

The Essex Art Association is at 10 North Main St., in Essex.

The poster painting (shown on the left) was done by student Morgan Dinwoodie.

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Community Screening of “What Got Me Through,” on June 1

WhatGotMeThroughREGION 4 – Last October, tri-town community members’ stories came to life in a play, “What Got Me Through,” on the stage of the Chester Meeting House. The production was the culmination of a year’s work: training a team of story gatherers, interviewing residents who shared their stories of overcoming challenges, the writing of the play by Jules Corriere, and then the theatrical production, led by Jacqueline Hubbard and performed and staged with local cast and crew, all with input also from Community Performance International.

The play was a means of raising awareness about building developmental assets for youth and families in Chester, Deep River and Essex. Many lives were touched by the project.

One performance was recorded. The screening of the video will take place on Wednesday, June 1, at 7 p.m. in the Valley Regional High School auditorium. It will be an opportunity to “see the play again” or, to see it for the first time if you missed it last October.  For further information contact Tri-Town Youth Services at 860-526-3600.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most. Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

 

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John Winthrop MS Presents “Xanadu Jr.”

Xanadu Jr. JWMSAREAWIDE — Region 4’s John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River presents “Xanadu Jr.” on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2.  Both performances are at 7 p.m.

With over 60 students involved, “Xanadu Jr.” promises to be an energetic, family-friendly performance.  The plot follows Greek muse Kira as she helps surfer Sonny with his dream to create a roller disco in 1980 Venice Beach, Calif.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and seniors.  Tickets are available by calling the John Winthrop Middle School main office at (860) 526-9546.

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They’re Creepy, They’re Kooky…Last Chance to see ‘The Addams Family’ This Afternoon at Valley HS

Joseph’s Photography, show photographer, provided this photo to give an idea of what to expect from this award winning program. Front row left to right: Jonny Leffingwell, Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo, Maggie Walsh; Back row left to right: James D’Amico, Zane Bouregy, Mitch Conrad and Annie Brown.

Starring in The Addams Family at Valley Regional: front row (L-R): Jonny Leffingwell, Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo and Maggie Walsh; back: James D’Amico, Zane Bouregy, Mitch Conrad and Annie Brown. Photo by Joseph’s Photography.

REGION 4 — The countdown to show time has begun. This year’s musical at Valley Regional High School in Deep River is The Addams Family and it will open for the weekend from Friday, March 11, through Sunday, March 13, .

The cast, crew and pit are putting the finishing touches on staging, lights, and songs as they prepare for opening night. Ingrid Walsh, director, comments, “I’m just speechless and so proud of how much and how far the cast has dared to go to join The Addams Family.

This is one show that is not to be missed from the dancing and singing to the elaborate scenery, props, makeup and costumes. There are sure to be feelings of nostalgia for those who grew up watching this iconic show. 

Performances are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. Tickets are $12 each for all shows, except the Saturday matinee, which are $10 each. Tickets can be purchased at Celebrations, The Wheatmarket, Elephant Crossing, Toys Ahoy and at the high school.

For further information, call the school at 860 526-5328 and ask for Tina Stoddard.

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“Getting Ready for Change” Program, May 5

REGION 4 – Patricia Cournoyer runs her “Getting Ready for Change” program for fourth and fifth grade girls and their female caregivers on Thursday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School library. This program costs $25 and admission is limited to 12 families.  Please call Tri-Town Youth Services at 526-3600 to register.

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Screen-Free Family Fun with Tri-Town Youth Services, May 4 & 5

screen freeREGION 4 – To celebrate National Screen-Free Week, Tri-Town Youth Services is partnering with two local libraries to offer Screen-Free Family Fun.

Young children and their parents are invited to the Ivoryton Public Library for free vision screenings and art activities inspired by Andy Warhol on Wednesday, May 4, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.  The Essex Lions Club will conduct vision screenings with a sophisticated camera that can detect seven major eye deficiencies.

Tri-Town Youth Services invites all kids ages five and up for crafting and storytelling with projects from the book, Show Me a Story, by Emily Neuburger.  Gather at the Essex Public Library after school on Thursday, May 5, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. to make “story stones” and learn the art of bookbinding.  The afternoon will wrap up with some collaborative storytelling fun.

Both of these screen-free programs are free and open to the public.  Call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600 for more information.

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27th Annual ‘High on Life’ Week Celebrated May 1 – 7

REGION 4 – Celebrated annually throughout Chester, Deep River and Essex, High on Life week will be observed May 1-7 this year as per the three selectpersons, Lauren Gister, Richard Smith and Norm Needleman, who signed the proclamation.

Multiple sectors of the community contribute in various ways to make the substance abuse awareness and prevention week a success, including schools, the faith community, the business community and others. Events planned for the week are described in the High on Life brochures that are available in town halls, libraries, throughout the faith community, at Tri-Town Youth Services, and elsewhere.

This year’s High on Life week is the 27th awareness week organized by Tri-Town Youth Services. While many “old favorites” such as window painting in Deep River will be featured, there are several new dimensions this year.

To celebrate High on Life 2011, Diana Carfi, Art Teacher at Deep River Elementary School, and sixth grade students painted windows at businesses along Main Street in Deep River.

To celebrate High on Life 2011, Diana Carfi, Art Teacher at Deep River Elementary School, and sixth grade students painted windows at businesses along Main Street in Deep River.

For the first time, there is a digital version of the High on Life brochure in addition to the printed version.  The digital brochure can be accessed on Tri-Town’s website: www.tritownys.org.

Also, Tri-Town has partnered with Ivoryton Public Library and the Essex Lions Club to offer free vision screenings at the Ivoryton Library on Wednesday, May 4, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. And, on Thursday, May 5, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Essex Public Library, Allison Abramson, Tri-town’s Parent Resource Coordinator, will offer “Screen-Free Family Fun: Show Me a Story!”

On Tuesday, May 3, Tri-Town Youth Services will host a free Community Coalition Breakfast/Town Hall Meeting at Camp Hazen YMCA in Chester, 8 to 9:30 a.m. Please call Tri-Town (860-526-3600) to register by April 8.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. Tri-Town coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

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‘Warrior’ Giaconia Signs with UConn

Jack Giaconia, who has signed a Letter of Intent to play football with UConn, was a four-year starter on the Valley/Old Lyme co-op football team. Photo by Laura Matesky, www.lauramateskyphotography.com

Jack Giaconia, who has signed a Letter of Intent to play football with UConn, was a four-year starter on the Valley/Old Lyme co-op ‘Warriors’ football team. Photo by Laura Matesky, www.lauramateskyphotography.com

Lyme-Old Lyme High School senior Jack Giaconia, who was a starter on the Valley Regional/Lyme-Old Lyme ‘Warriors’ co-op football team throughout his high school career, has signed a Letter of Intent to be a preferred walk-on with the UConn Huskies.

A delighted Giaconia, who lives in Lyme, Conn., told LymeLine.com, “For me signing with UConn is a dream come true. I’ve been watching them play on TV since I was like seven years old.”

He explained that prior to signing with UConn, he had quite a number of college options on the table including Endicott, University of New Haven, and also Central, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities. He noted, “I was also considering going to prep school since I wasn’t getting very much interest from big time Division One schools,” but, “When [Warriors head] coach [Tim] King told me that UConn was interested, I was very excited.”

Now, after a short break following his high school graduation in early June, Giaconia is looking forward to starting his training with the UConn team at the end of June. He explains, “That’s when I start lifting and training with the team.”

Asked if there was anyone he wished to acknowledge in terms of having helped him reach his goal, Giaconia, who stands 6 ft. 4 in. and weighs 330 lb, graciously offered quite a list, saying first, “I want to thank coach King and all the coaching staff for being the best group of coaches a player could ask for.” He then added, “I also want to thank both the Valley and Lyme-Old Lyme school districts because without the co-op being created, I wouldn’t have been able to play for my hometown.”

Giaconia quickly followed up saying, “I also want to thank the Roche family for being so supportive and helpful throughout the recruiting process. And last but not least, I want to thank my family for being my biggest fans and for getting me to this point in my life.”

Congratulations, Jack — we’ll be following your career with great interest!

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Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night at First Congregational Church in Essex, April 9

Members of the First Congregational Church who are preparing for the April 9 Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night are: (L-R) Delcie McGrath, Essex; Mike Hennessy, East Lyme; Emily Williams, Essex; Sharyn Nelson, Ivoryton; Mary-Lawrence Bickford, Essex; and Richard McGrath, Essex.

Members of the First Congregational Church who are preparing for the April 9 Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night are: (L-R) Delcie McGrath, Essex; Mike Hennessy, East Lyme; Emily Williams, Essex; Sharyn Nelson, Ivoryton; Mary-Lawrence Bickford, Essex; and Richard McGrath, Essex.

ESSEX – The Second Annual Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night will be held on Saturday, April 9 at 6 p.m. at the First Congregational Church in Essex, 6 Methodist Hill in Essex Village. Sponsored by the church’s Justice and Witness Committee, proceeds from the event benefit the $1,000 “Making a Difference” Award, open to graduating seniors at Valley Regional High School (VRHS).

For the all-you-can-eat supper, four choices of pasta with different sauces will be prepared by the church’s chef. Performers of all ages are welcome to showcase their talents at the Open Mic that follows the supper. Please contact Sharyn Nelson at 860-767-9817 if you would like to be included.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, if ordered in advance by calling the church at 860-767-8097. At the door, tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children.

The “Making a Difference” Award is given to that graduating senior from VRHS whose actions continue to challenge those ideas and practices that result in the exclusion of others. Award applications are available at the VRHS Counseling Office or at the First Congregational Church in Essex. The application deadline is April 30.

For more information on the Pasta Supper or the “Making A Difference” Award, call the church at 860-767-8097.

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Region 4’s $53,350 Year-End Surplus to be Returned to Member Towns, Applied to R4 Sinking Funds

REGION 4 — On Jan. 7, 2016, the Region 4 Board of Education received the final audit of the 2014-15 school year that reflects a surplus of $53,350 at the close of the school year.

“The results of this year’s audit are great news, given the significant financial challenges the board and administration faced last year,” said Chris Riley, chairman of the Region 4 Board of Education. “Dr. Levy and her team are to be commended for their continued commitment to both our students and our taxpayers.”

Under a policy adopted last year, the Region 4 Board voted to return 50 percent of the surplus to the member towns and apply the other 50 percent toward capital sinking funds.

Funds will be returned to member towns based on the student population in John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School as follows:

  • Town of Chester: $6,439
  • Town of Deep River: $8,267
  • Town of Essex: $11,969
    TOTAL $26,675
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Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Hosts Meeting, Jan. 20

TRI-TOWN — The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold its next meeting at Tri-Town Youth Services at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.

Many “sectors” of the community are represented on this council: schools, youth serving organizations, law enforcement, government, civic groups, parents, students, the faith community and health care to name a few.

At the January meeting, Deep River Resident Trooper Dawn Taylor will present on current drug trends in our area. Future meeting dates for this year are March, 9, and May 18.

For further information, please call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Editor’s Note: Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

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Addams Family on Stage at Valley Regional, March 11-13

REGION 4 – They’re creepy and they’re kooky!  This year’s musical, The Addams Family, will be performed the weekend of Friday, March 11, through Sunday, March 13, at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. The cast, crew and pit are putting the finishing touches on staging, lights and songs as they prepare for opening night. Ingrid Walsh, director, comments, “I’m just speechless and so proud of how much and how far the cast has dared to go to join the Addams Family.

From the dancing and singing to the elaborate scenery, props, makeup and costumes, this is one show that is not to be missed. There are sure to be feelings of nostalgia for those who grew up watching this iconic show.

Performances are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. Tickets are $12 each for all shows, except the Saturday matinee ($10). They can be purchased at Celebrations, The Wheatmarket, Elephant Crossing, Toys Ahoy and Valley Regional. Those with questions can call the school at 860-526-5328 and speak with Tina Stoddard.

Starring in The Addams Family at Valley Regional: front row (L-R): Jonny Leffingwell, Miranda Holland, Nathan Russo and Maggie Walsh; back: James D’Amico, Zane Bouregy, Mitch Conrad and Annie Brown. Photo by Joseph’s Photography

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Volunteer to Help Those Who Cannot Read, Variety of Openings Available at LVVS

AREAWIDE — If you have some time to volunteer to build a stronger community and help a local non-profit in tutoring area residents to read, write and speak English, you can start helping almost immediately. Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is looking for board members, a treasurer for the organization, tutor trainees and volunteers.

For more information, contact info@vsliteracy.org or call 860-399-0280.

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Valley-Old Lyme Warrior Football Alumnus Fairfield-Sonn Named All-American

All American Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn stands with his proud parents, Lynn and Jim Fairfield-Sonn of Old Lyme.

D3Football.com All-American footballer Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn stands with his proud parents, Lynn and Jim Fairfield-Sonn of Old Lyme.

Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn, who graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 2012 and now attends Amherst College where he is a senior safety on the College’s football team, was named to the 2015 D3football.com All-America team, and earned recognition on the Third Team Defense. Fairfield-Sonn played a key role on the Valley-Old Lyme Co-op football team while attending high school in Old Lyme.

Fairfield-Sonn became the fifth member of the Amherst football team to garner All-America praise from D3football.com. In addition to his most recent accolade, Fairfield-Sonn was also named to the D3football.com All-East Region First Team Defense, the New England Writers Division II/III All-New England Team and the NESCAC All-Conference First Team Defense.

Fairfield-Sonn also picked up two yearly awards and was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, while also claiming the Joseph P. Zabilski award – which is announced by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston and recognizes New England’s top offensive and defensive players for Division II and III.

Congratulations, Jimmy!

Click here to read the full article on which this article is based. The original article was first published on the Athletics section of the Amherst College website.

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Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Holds First Meeting of New School Year Tomorrow

TRI-TOWN — The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold its first meeting of the new school year at Tri-Town Youth Services at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9, with guest speaker, John Daviau.

The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.  Many “sectors” of the community are represented on this council: schools, youth serving organizations, law enforcement, government, civic groups, parents, students, the faith community and health care to name a few.

At the September meeting, prevention programming already in place will be discussed as well as ways of strengthening the coalition.  Future meeting dates for this year are Nov. 18; Jan. 20, 2016; March 9, 2016; May 18, 2016.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  The organization coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

For further information, call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

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Open Auditions This Afternoon for Tri-Town Youth Services’ Production of ‘What Got Me Through’

AREAWIDE — Tri Town Youth Services, in collaboration with Community Performance International, will be holding local auditions for non-union actors for their original production, ‘What Got Me Through,’ on Monday, Aug. 10 from 3 to 8 p.m. at Chester Meeting House.

‘What Got Me Through’ tells the stories of tri-town’s own residents — their challenges, victories, heartbreaks and resilience — in a one-act play that takes us through the lives of a Vietnam veteran experiencing PTSD, an unwed mother during the tumultuous post-war years of the fifties, survivors of fires — both physical and those that burn from within — as well as the deep, close bonds of friendship and family that hold fast through generations.

What Got Me Through’ is the uplifting tale of Tri-Town’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Auditions are open to actors of all ages, children and adults. Final performances will be at Chester Meeting House on Oct. 2, 3 and 4.

Call Gail or Cate at Tri Town Youth Services, 860-526-3600, for more information.

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Final Performances of ‘Mary Poppins’ Tonight, Tomorrow

adAREAWIDE — Artful Living has announced its 2015 Summer Musical, Mary Poppins, to be performed July 31 and Aug. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets and information are available at www.ArtfulLivingCT.com  or call 860-389-1363

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15  for seniors and children (Groups of 10 or more save $1)

The show will be performed at Haddan-Killingworth Middle School at 451 Rte. 81, Killingworth in a state of the art fully accessible, fully air-conditioned theater.

Mary Poppins is one of the most popular Disney movies of all time and is now capturing hearts in a whole new way – as a hit musical!  sCome experience the enchanting mixture of irresistible story and unforgettable tunes. It features all the classic songs “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” “Step In Time” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to name a few- plus wonderful new music!

See over 100 adults and children from all over the state come together to create the magic of Mary Poppins. Enjoy this beloved score with a full professional orchestra.

Questions? Want to book a group? Call producer Chris Solimene at 860-389-1363.

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Essex Winter Series Awards Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship to Daniel Leffingwell

Louisa Ketron, a member of the Board of Trustees of Essex Winter Series, presented the Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship to VRHS senior Daniel Leffingwell.

Louisa Ketron, a member of the Board of Trustees of Essex Winter Series, presented the Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship to VRHS senior Daniel Leffingwell.

REGION 4 — Daniel Leffingwell of Chester, a senior at Valley Regional High School (VRHS), is the recipient of the 2015 Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship, provided by Essex Winter Series (EWS). The scholarship was presented to Leffingwell by EWS trustee Louisa Ketron at the VRHS senior awards night on June 3.

Named for one of the founding members of the EWS, the Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating senior of VRHS who will be studying music in college. The generous scholarship provides $1,000 for each year of study, for a total of $4,000.

Leffingwell took part in drama, music, and sports programs throughout his career at VRHS. He participated in the school’s musical production, landing a lead role in his senior year. He sang in the school’s  Concert Choir, the selective Madrigal Consort, and Madmen for all four years, and sang in the student-led a cappella group, serving as leader for one year.

Also an instrumentalist, he played percussion in the school band and played bass and guitar in the jazz band. He was selected to participate in the All-State and New England music festivals for three years, elected to student council, and chosen for membership in the National Honor Society.

In athletics, he played on the baseball and tennis teams.

Laffingwell was highly recommended by members of the faculty, who noted he,“… is an extremely bright student both musically and academically,” “… a model student,” and “… a good young man who is interested in helping others as well as himself.” In the fall, Leffingwell will enroll at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., where he will major in music education.

The Francis Bealey Memorial Scholarship was established in 1995 after the passing of EWS board president Francis Bealey to honor his commitment to music and arts education.

Bringing world-class classical and jazz music to the shoreline area was the dream of the founders of the EWS, established in 1979.  The late Fenton Brown became involved early on and devoted many years to expanding the series, and ultimately recruited pianist Mihae Lee to become Artistic Director.

The “Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert” series was begun to honor Brown’s commitment to promoting the careers of young artists.  Each year, the EWS presents a series of concert performances by top-rated musicians from around the world. These concerts, held at Valley Regional High School or John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River, are presented on Sunday afternoons in January, February, and March.  A single season may include a mix of such performances as chamber music, instrumental soloists, opera singers, symphony and chamber orchestras, and jazz bands.

More information may be found at www.essexwinterseries.org.

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Summer Reading Program for School Credit Open to all Region 4 Students

Region 4 summer reading books for middle and high school students.

Region 4 summer reading books for middle and high school students.

REGION 4 — John Winthrop and Valley Regional students from Chester, Deep River and Essex are invited to take part in the summer reading discussions at Chester Public Library to receive school credit.

The discussion leader will be Sally Murray, who has been leading these popular discussions for several years.

For John Winthrop students, the discussion will be on Thursday, July 16, at 5 p.m.  “Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time,” by Marc Adams, is the title to be discussed for summer credit. Refreshments will be served and each participant will receive a certificate of completion for their non-fiction requirement.

On Thursday, Aug, 6, at 5 p.m., Valley Regional students are invited to discuss “172 Hours on the Moon” by Johan Harstad. Students who demonstrate that they have completed the book will receive credit for their fiction requirement. Food will be part of the fun.

Copies of the books can be borrowed at the library. Registration at 860-526-0018 is required.

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Valley Regional’s Class of 2015 Enjoys Perfect Weather for Graduation Ceremony

Hat_toss

The VRHS Class of 2015 celebrates graduation with the traditional hat toss. Photo by J. Ferrucci.

REGION 4 — Congratulations to the Valley Regional High School Class of 2015!

Adams, Paulina
Alvord, Julianna
Anderson, Lily
Anderson, Matthew
Atkinson, Patrick
Badalamenti, Sergio
Baldwin, Amanda
Bartolotta, Christian
Bauman, Keegan
Berardis, David Joseph
Boland, Garrett
Boland, William Tyler
Bosco, Giulianna
Bott, Scarlet
Bouregy, Elizabeth
Bourez, Benjamin
Bradbury, David
Brooks, Hailey R.
Burgess, Justin
Campbell, Kenna
Capezzone, Marina
Carey, Sarah Sonora
Carlson, Indigo
Carney, Melissa
Cassells, Alexander
Castelli, Michael
Castelli, Sara
Cayer, Jillian
Cheverier, Justin
Cheverier, Tyler
Clapp, Stephanie
Clark, Benjamin
Clark, Ely
Cole, Kevin
Connor, Mikayla
Craco, Justin
Czenthe, Mackenzie
D’Agostino, Alexander
Dalton, Matthew
Daniels, Roman
Dare, Jake
Dee, Philip
DeJesus, Alexander B.
Diley, Patricia
Dilger, Alexandra
Dione, Dakota
Dione, Donald
diTommaso, Joseph
Doran, Brittany Anne
Doran, Julia Marie
Everett, Lacey
Fasulo, Kyle
Feola, Kelly
Ferrucci, Benjamin
Figuenick, Daniel
Flynn, Neve
Gabriel, Andrew
Gardner, MaryHope
Gephart, Charlotte
Giangrande, Benjamin
Girnius, Alexander
Gleason, Kristin
Gonzalez, Siany Nicol
Greatsinger, Brooke
Hansen, Julia
Harger, Leah
Harris, Austin
Hartson, Samantha
Haughton, Alex
Holdmeyer, Madison
Hotz, Emily W
Hunter, Tyler
Jaillet, Eric
Jean Pierre, Christopher
Joia, Ashley
Jones, Ashley Shana
Jones, Peter
Joy, Brennan
Karg, Austin
Kaufmann, Karl
Kelly, Caitlyn
Kilby, Kristen
Klein, Haleigh
Kobe, Brendan
Kohary, Marina
Kollmer, John
Korcak, Mackenzie
LaCasse, Paige
Leffingwell, Daniel
Lenz, Josef
Lewis, Emily
Libert, Emilie
Linfesty, Hunter
Longo, Austin
Longo, Bailey
Lowrey, Hunter
Lucarelli, April
MacWhinney, Garrett
Makowicki, John Evan
Marroquin, Christian
Martin, Jeremy
Matthiessen, Zoe
McCarthy, Britta
McCluskey, Lara
McConnell, Tyler
McKosky, Samantha
Merola, Gregory
Miles, Cassandra N.
Millard, Emily
Mitchel, Amanda
Mitchel, Connor
Morris, Fallon
Morris, Gabe
Morris, Megan
Mueller, Elias
Myers, Patrick
Nelson, Samantha
Nelson, Simone
Nettleton, James
Nevins, Jack
Norton, Julian
Nucolo, Anthony
Nystrom, Kristian
Osborne, William Floyd
Osborne-Lara, Fernando
Pace, Christopher
Palmer, Elesa
Patterson, Brian
Paulson, Maxwell
Pelletier, Dylan
Perron-Warzecha, Christian
Peterson, Sean
Petroka, Ethan
Riccitelli, Holly
Rodriguez, Margaret
Russell, Gretchen
Russell, Thomas
Russo, Daniel
Russo, Spencer
Rutan, Cole
Ryan, Megan
Sandmann, Kaitlin
Saunders, Tyler
Senning, Hunter
Shepard, Myranda
Shepherd, Kevin
Smith, Brendan
Smith, Evan
Smith, George B
Sopneski, Leah
Splittgerber, Christian
Stevens, Benedict
Sticht, Meagan
Suedmeier, Tristan T
Suplita, Quentin
Swartzell, Benjamin
Swerling, Brian
Taylor, Harrison
Taylor, Jenna
Termini, Ashley
Tiezzi, Jenna
Tiezzi, Troy
Tisdale, Jacob
Todd, Shawn
Toles, Elizabeth
Torres-Coello, Daniel J
Tuscano, Andrew
Wachtarz, Robert
Ward, Kelsey
Watts, Katharine
West, Joshua
Wichtowski, Alicia
Williams, Amanda
Winchell, Brian
Winslow, Morgan
Wolff, Abigail L.
Zuse, Amy

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Region 4 School Board Declines Further Action on K-6 Regionalization Plan

REGION 4 — The Region 4 Board of Education voted Monday not to send the  kindergarten-sixth grade regionalization plan developed this year to a referendum vote in the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex.

The unanimous vote at a special meeting brings an inconclusive end to months of effort to draft and win support for a plan to regionalize the elementary schools in the three towns under a single elected board of education that would also direct the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. The idea of regionalizing the elementary schools under a single school board has been under discussion for a decade, with supporters contending it would be the final step in standardizing all curriculum among the primary grades, while also bringing cost savings through administrative efficiencies and a simpler budget process.

But the method of dividing a combined Region 4 education budget including the elementary schools, which under current state law must be done based on the average daily membership of students from each town, raised concerns that one or more towns could face an abrupt and steep increase in its share of a combined education budget.

School board members had developed an inter-local agreement intended to address this issue that would have required Chester and Essex to transfer funds to Deep River to balance the budget shift. There were also concerns, particularly in Chester, that declining enrollment could lead to a closing of the Chester Elementary School, along with major shifts in grade assignments among the elementary schools.

These issues led the Chester Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance to issue a statement at the end of May expressing opposition to the current regionalization plan, and urging the school boards not to send it to a planned September referendum in the three towns. The regionalization plan would require voter approval from each town to become effective. A June 1 joint meeting of school board members and selectmen and finance board members from the three towns failed to resolve the lingering issues.

When the Region 4 board convened Monday. members had already prepared a brief written statement confirming the plan would not be brought to referendum this year. “Over the past several months, a number of community minded people worked very hard to develop a plan to make our outstanding school district even stronger”, it said.

“After hundreds of hours and over a dozen meetings, we have developed a plan that many of us believe would provide our kids with an even better education while making our governance structure more efficient. Although the Region 4 board believes that regionalization is in the best interests of our students, we have come to the conclusion that our communities have not reached a consensus ion this issue,” it concluded.

Region 4 Board Chairman Chris Riley said the research and planning done this year to prepare for full regionalization remains in hand, though there are no immediate plans to pursue the issue further at the present time.

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TriTown Youth Services Presents Soccer Coach Fearon with 2015 Generativity Award

Many youth soccer players and their parents attended the Generativity Award presentation      at Tri-Town.  Michael Fearon, fifth from left, stands with several members of his team.

Many youth soccer players and their parents attended the Generativity Award presentation
at Tri-Town. Michael Fearon, fifth from left, stands with several members of his team.

AREAWIDE — Tri-Town Youth Services recently presented their 2015 Generativity Award to Michael Fearon of Chester.  Passionate about soccer, Mick Fearon has been coaching soccer for 40 years.  He has been coaching high school soccer for 13years.

In discussing the success records of his teams, Fearon says, “there are different levels of success.”  He adds that kids often care about wins, but as a coach, he is concerned that the team is developing, players are improving and giving their best.  He chooses to focus on the process, not the outcome.

Fearon often attends his team members’ other activities, whether sports or the school musical, as he views them as whole people, not just soccer players and he wants to support them in their endeavors.

Tri-Town Youth Services has presented a Generativity Award annually since 2005.  Recipients of the award are people who, over time, have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to youth and have contributed significantly to building youth developmental assets.  Previous awardees include: Marilyn Malcarne, Rick Stebbins, Pat Kosky, Jane Cavanaugh, Ingrid Walsh, Rev. Tim Haut, Linda Hall, Barbara Nidzgorski, Phil Miller, and Dr. Ruth Levy.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  The organization coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

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VRHS Musical Program Wins Major Awards at CT High School Music Theatre Gala

The cast of 'Band Geeks.'

The cast of ‘Band Geeks.’

Valley Regional High School’s (VRHS) Drama Program continues its tradition of performance excellence with the Valley Regional Musical Production (VRMP) of “Band Geeks,” receiving two notable awards, including the brand new ‘The Future of Theatre Award’ and the ‘Outstanding Graphic Design Award’ on June 1, at the Connecticut High School Music Theatre Awards gala held at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, Conn.

scene_from_playIngrid Walsh, ‘Band Geeks’ Director, noted that the ‘The Future of Theatre Award,’ “… was newly created to inspire all to enter uncharted territories and, rather than doing the same shows, to try and produce some new works.”

On receiving the inaugural award, she said,  “We were thrilled.  As you know, something new — or change — is very hard to find a populace, as it is incredibly risky.  But, they recognized all of our efforts to raise ‘Band Geeks’ to the stage and deliver it with success.  We were truly honored and humbled to be recognized, especially because we all were so attached to the show.”

Walsh added, “We would like to send out a special thanks to the following people and companies that supported our ‘Outstanding Graphics Design Award’

  • C. Proctor of Essex Printing – assisted with posters and programs,
  • Whelen Engineering – printing of programs,
  • Casey O’Brien of Gull Associates Old Lyme – assisted with costuming,
  • Tiffany Hopkins – assisted with projection images,
  • Luther Moen, Ingrid Walsh, and projection students: Garrett Boland, Tesla Lowrey, Roman Daniels – assisted with side projection panel adjustments, and
  • Chris LeQuire and Brad Pitman of VHRS – assisted in creating newscast footage that tied the whole thing together to the end.

singerAdditionally, CHSMTA nominated VRMP’s ‘Band Geeks’ for three prominent awards:

  • Leading Actress – Maggie Walsh as Laura,
  • Outstanding Sound, and
  • Outstanding Chorus.

One hundred and twenty-one students from VRHS were involved in cast, crew, and pit to produce the newly released musical.  The involvement of students represents 20 percent of the entire school population, along with countless volunteer hours of the parents, teachers, and community direct commitment to this long-standing tradition of producing excellence in musicals in the Region 4 School District.  As always, the five-performance date and times of the musical were sold out early in our community.

As a surprise to all, the creators Tommy Newman and Gordon Greenberg of ‘Band Geeks’ drove in from New York City along with original Goodspeed Producers to view their final dress rehearsal in March.

The students attended the June 1 black-tie Gala at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury and performed “Lost in the Brass” one last time. Valley Regional High School was among 20 other Connecticut high schools involved in the event, which celebrates high school music theatre.

Editor’s Notes: See VRHS Performing Arts activities on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/VRHS.MusicBoosters/

See VRHS Band activities on http://vrhsband.weebly.com/

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Region 4 Board, VRHS Honors Top Ten Percent Seniors

REGION 4 — The Region 4 Board of Education and Valley Regional High School (VRHS) has honored the Top Ten percent ranking seniors who have achieved outstanding scholastic records.  A Senior Awards ceremony and reception was held Wednesday, June 3, in the VRHS auditorium.

The Top Ten percent senior students listed alphabetically are:

Julianna Grace Alvord — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Alvord, Ivoryton

David Joseph Berardis — son of Mr. and Mrs. David Berardis, Deep River

Giulianna Maria Bosco — daughter of Mrs. Mary Ann Cannella and Mr. Dominick Bosco, Deep River

Benjamin Steven Bourez — son of Mr. and Mrs. David Bourez, Chester

Indigo Jean Rollins Carlson — daughter of Mr. Jeffrey Carlson and Mrs. Jacque Rollins, Ivoryton

Dakota Rose Dione — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Dione, Deep River

Donald Parry Robert Dione — son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Dione, Deep River

Daniel Joseph Figuenick III — son of Mrs. Daniel Figuenick and Mrs. Melissa Figuenick, Ivoryton

Elias C. Mueller — son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mueller, Chester

Patrick Eugene Myers — son of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Myers, Essex

Holly Marie Riccitelli — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Riccitelli, Deep River

Margaret A. Rodriguez — daughter of Mr. Leonard Rodriguez and Mrs. Colleen Rodriguez, Essex

Megan Elizabeth Ryan — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Ryan, Ivoryton

Kaitlin Margaret Sandmann — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Sandmann, Essex

Benedict Novinski Robert Stevens — son of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Stevens, Essex

Jenna Taylor — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Bryan Taylor, Ivoryton

Jacob Michael Tisdale — son of Mr. Greg Tisdale and Mrs. Debbie Tisdale, Ivoryton

Abigail Louise Wolff — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wolff

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Chester Opposition Delays Vote on Proposed School District Full Regionalization Plan

REGION 4 — Plans for a three-town referendum vote on a proposed kindergarten-sixth grade regionalization plan have been pushed back after a meeting Monday between district and town leaders brought information about a possible new option for dividing elementary education costs among the three towns, and highlighted opposition to the current regionalization plan from elected officials in Chester.

The special meeting, which included board of education chairpersons and members of the boards of selectmen and finance for the district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex, came after the Chester boards of selectmen and finance issued a statement declaring unanimous opposition to the current plan and a related inter-local agreement intended to address cost shifts and other issues arising from full regionalization of the elementary schools. School board members had been planning for a possible Sept. 29 referendum on K-6 regionalization, which must be approved by voters of all three towns.

The Chester statement, drafted at a May 28 meeting of the two boards, contended the proposed plan and agreement would have a “negative financial impact” on Chester. In a reflection of concerns that declining student enrolment and full regionalization could lead to grade moves or even a closure of Chester Elementary school, the statement also calls for local voter approval, by town meeting vote or referendum, of any shifts of grades among the elementary schools.

Chester finance board member Lori Clymas urged school leaders to “slow down” and explore further revisions to the plan. “We want to work it out but we feel; like we’re being rushed.” she said. Chester First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the plan that was developed over the past three months needs further review, while adding, “We don’t have to go back to square one.”

Essex Board of Education Chairman Lon Seidman, a strong supporter of the K-6 regionalization, said new legislation approved last week in the state House of Representatives would give the school district greater flexibility in assessing taxpayers in each town regarding the cost of operating the elementary schools. Current state law requires using student average daily membership (ADM) from each town to divide cost shares in a regional school budget, as has been done with the spending plan for the middle school and high school since the Region 4 school district for grades 7-12 was established in the early 1950s.

Current levels of enrollment and per pupil spending would leave Deep River at a $378,000 financial disadvantage in 2016-2017 under a K-6 grade regionalization and budget split based only on student ADM. To address this and build support in Deep River, a draft inter-local agreement would adjust budget shares, with Chester and Essex paying higher budget shares in amounts projected to range from $201,000 to $173,000 for Chester over the next four years and from $177,000 to $65,000 for Essex through 2019-2020.

Seidman said the legislation pushed by State Rep. Phil Miller (D-36th) would allow the district to develop its own plan for sharing elementary school expenses. He acknowledged a full review of options under the new legislation would require a delay in any votes on the K-6 regionalization. The new legislation still needs approval from the State Senate, with the 2015 legislation session scheduled to end at midnight Wednesday.

The Chester call for a local vote on elementary school grade changes also generated discussion Monday, with school board members urging the Chester officials to be more flexible on the process for approving grade reconfigurations at the elementary schools. Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said any major shifts in elementary school grades are unlikely over the next four years, except for a possible move of sixth graders to John Winthrop Middle School, commenting, “We’re getting mired down over control and we need to come together.”

Region 4 Board of Education Chairman Chris Riley said his board, which by law must initiate referenda on further regionalization, would defer any vote on sending the plan to a referendum in September. Riley noted a regionalization referendum on Nov. 3, when the three towns hold municipal elections, is still possible, but far from certain.

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Conversations About Regionalization Continue at Essex Elementary Today

REGION 4 — A series of informal conversation for parents at elementary schools about Regionalization concludes Friday at Essex Elementary School Cafeteria from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Coffee and pastries will be provided.  All are welcome.

Superintendent Dr. Levy, the school principal and board of education will be available at the event for informal discussions.

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VRHS Students Travel to Paris, Transport to JFK Paid by Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund

Ready for take-off: Valley Regional HS language students gather for a photo at the school immediately prior to departure.

Ready for take-off: Valley Regional HS language students gather for a photo at the school immediately prior to their departure across ‘The Pond.’

REGION 4 — The Valley Regional High School (VRHS) World Language Department organized a week-long trip to Paris over the 2015 spring break.

A $1,300 grant from the Christopher Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County provided for the group’s transportation to John F. Kennedy airport in New York City for their flight to Paris. These funds were, as in years past, generated by the Run For Chris 5K, held annually in Essex in Belfoure’s memory.

"Embark on your journey and only look forward. Not too fast but not too slow. It is the ones that remain idle that get lost in the memories of the past and not the dreams of the future. We as human-beings need to dream again once more.”   These words were written by Chris Belfoure to his friend Valerie Tinker.

“Embark on your journey and only look forward. Not too fast but not too slow. It is the ones that remain idle that get lost in the memories of the past and not the dreams of the future. We as human-beings need to dream again once more.”  These words were written by Chris Belfoure, pictured above, to his friend Valerie Tinker.

Belfoure was just 24 when he tragically died in July 2011. Yet his passions – his belief in the global community, his dedication to teaching and the environment – will be shared through the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC).

A graduate of VRHS and West Virginia University, Belfoure spoke fluent Mandarin and was pursuing a career as a corporate trainer in Shanghai. He is remembered as a charming, intelligent, ambitious man with a zest for life and adventure.

Belfoure believed knowledge to be a bridge between cultures and a key in developing innovative approaches to education and customer service. He loved to talk and knew that overcoming the barriers of language provided people an opportunity to learn about one another, to share hopes and dreams, and that just by talking, one could encourage people to see themselves as members of a global community.

Belfoure’s mother and stepfather, Robin and George Chapin, established the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation in January 2012. This designated Fund supports Middlesex County-Lower County public schools and public library programs focused on integrating multicultural experiences, learning foreign languages, and environmental programs into the curricula.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.12.48 AMThe Chapins and a host of family friends launched the Fund with the first annual Run for Chris – Run for Education on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Essex; the proceeds were donated to the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund.

This year’s event will be held June 27.  There will also be a 2- mile walk, 1-mile run for ages 7-14, and a kids’ Fun Run. Registration is open at ARatRace.com

Robin Chapin says, “Keeping Chris’ dreams alive is so important to us. Chris was passionate about life, and I want to share his passion and determination with others, so they can grow and enhance their lives. He was always smiling and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.” She continues, “The Fund allows us to provide opportunities for schools and libraries to fund their foreign language programs and global education programs. Giving back to the community was a part of who Chris was. This all helps to keep his memory alive.”

Editor’s Note: Information about and the photograph of Christopher Belfoure and the fund named after him have been taken from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County website.

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Warriors Play for Class S Championship Today at Mohegan Sun

Warrior fans will be out in force at this afternoon's championship game at Mohegan Sun.

Warrior fans will be out in force at this afternoon’s championship game at Mohegan Sun.  This photo is from the Shoreline League Conference final in New Haven against Old Lyme, which Valley won in overtime.

REGION 4 — The sixth seeded Valley Regional High School boys’ basketball team meets top seed Sacred Heart in the CIAC Class S basketball championship tomorrow afternoon, Sunday, March 22, in the Mohegan Sun arena.  Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.

The Warriors were 20 points down in the semifinal against number two seed SMSA and came back to win by two points in a stunning 60-58 upset.  The team seems unstoppable at this point!

Go Warriors!

Click to see an interview by News Channel 8’s Eric Dobratz with Warrior’s coach Kevin Woods in which Wood discusses his team and today’s game.

Click to read an article by Jim Bransfield and published in the Middletown Press March 20 titled, “Valley Regional Ready for Another Title Shot”

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published with an incorrect date for the game – our apologies.

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Three Region 4 Administrators to Swap Positions in Next School Year

REGION 4— Region 4 school boards this week unanimously approved a reassignment of three administrators that was recommended by superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy after a retirement decision by one administrator. The changes that are effective in July 2015 will  put different people in the positions of assistant superintendent and principals at Valley Regional High School and Chester Elementary School.
Levy said Friday the moves were prompted by the decision of Assistant Superintendent Joanne Beekley to retire in June after a 38-year career in  public education. Beekley, a Haddam resident, assumed the assistant superintendent position in 2012 after six years as principal at Essex Elementary School, the largest of the three district elementary schools.
Levy said after Beekley confirmed her plans at the beginning of the month, she began considering options that would allow the district to retain experienced administrators while also promoting from within the ranks of the current team. Levy said she met with the Region 4 Administrators Association, the bargaining unit for district administrators, and found support for her plan.
Under the plan, Beekley will retire on June 30, but continue working for two years as principal at Chester Elementary School, the smallest of the three elementary schools. Kristina Martineau, principal at Valley Regional High School since 2010, will assume the position of assistant superintendent. Michael Barile, a Haddam resident who has served as principal at Chester Elementary School since 2008, will become principal at Valley Regional High School.
The reassignments prompted a series of special school board meetings this week, where the boards conducted closed door interviews before voting to approve the changes recommended by the superintendent. Levy advised district staff and the first selectmen of Chester, Deep River, and Essex of the changes on Tuesday.
Levy said the reassignments will maintain continuity, while also allowing the district to move forward and give experienced administrators an opportunity to advance. She noted that each administrator will remain with the district and available to assist and mentor their successor.  “This will provide a whole circle of support for one another,” Levy said. The Chester Board of Education will begin the process of hiring a successor for Beekley in 2017.
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Champions! Valley/Old Lyme Football Defy Odds to Win State Class S-Large

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!

CIAC Class S-Large Champs!  Photo by W. Visgilio.

Congratulations to coach Tim King and his Warriors on an incredible win!

New Britain – Quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre’s four-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining rallied top-seeded Valley Regional/Old Lyme to a 21-20 victory over No. 2 Ansonia in their Class S-Large state championship football game at Willow Brook Park on Saturday morning. Click here to read the remainder of this full initial report of the game by Ned Griffin, which was published in The Day yesterday

And here’s another link to great article about the game.

And, finally, here’s Tim Devlin’s video of all Saturday’s state game highlights.

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Region 4 Schools Open Thursday for 2014-2015 Academic Year

REGION 4— Region 4 schools open Thursday for the 2014-2015 academic year with two new administrators and 16 new teachers, along with a new system that provides a faster assessment of student performance in the classroom.
Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said administrators and staff are excited about opening day. “The schools are ready and waiting to open the doors tomorrow,” Levy said Wednesday. Levy said student enrollment is down from the totals in the 2013-2014 school year, with no late surge in student registrations over the summer,

The new student assessment system to be implemented at all five districts schools is from a national firm, Northwest Educational Association. It will provide teachers with a quicker assessment of student performance, allowing for a more timely information to guide instructional plans. A school breakfast program that began last spring at two elementary schools will be expanded to all five schools. A new system will also enable parents to pay for school breakfast and lunches on line.
The new administrators are Christian Strickland, the new principal at Deep River Elementary School, and Sarah Smalley, new director pupil services. Strickland, a Middletown resident, worked previously as an assistant principal at an elementary school in Berlin. Smalley, an Old Lyme resident, is the former director of pupil services for Region 17 (Haddam-Killingworth) schools. Smalley worked previously in Region 4 as a special education teacher at Valley Regional High School. She is an elected member of the Region 18( Lyme-Old Lyme) Board of Education.

The highest number of new teachers is at the high school, where several long-time educators retired in June. They include Mary O’Reilly-Spanish, Rachael Cassella-Spanish, Jill Esernia-English, Evan Soderholm- social studies, Augusta Ferretti-mathematics, John Kopcha- technology education, and Michael Naylor as a long-term substitute for physical education.

The elementary schools for Deep River and Essex each have three new teachers. At Deep River Elementary School, there is third grade teacher Allyson Pitney, along with remedial reading and language arts teachers Andrea Ricci and Nicole Flynn. At Essex Elementary Schools, there is sixth grade teacher Erica Fleischman, kindergarten teacher Cynthis Breitenbach, and library/media specialist Renee Mitchill.

Along with Smalley, there are three new teachers funded through the supervision district, technology integration specialist Kirsten Reynolds, and two special education teachers, Emily Dreher at Essex Elementary School, and Elise Johnson at Chester Elementary School Bethany Peters is a new para-educator at Chester Elementary School, and Mary Jane Maltezos is the new secretary to the principal at John Winthrop Middle School.

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Valley Regional’s Production ‘Secret Garden’ Receives 12 Nominations for Music Theater Awards

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School.  (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional Musical Productions’ newest cast member(s), Mr. Robin, arrives at rehearsal of THE SECRET GARDEN at Valley Regional High School. (Back, left to right): VRMP cast members Megan Ryan, Shelby Talbot, Kristen Kilby and Annie Brown. (Front): Puppet artist Linda Wingerter

Valley Regional High School’s 2014 Production of The Secret Garden received 12 nominations for Connecticut High School Music Theater Award this year. The Award ceremony will take place at the black tie gala on Monday June 2, at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. Good luck to all our nominees!

OUTSTANDING HAIR & MAKE UP ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING COSTUMING ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN ACHIEVEMENT

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY

OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTRESS, Maggie Walsh -MARY LENNOX

OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTOR, Andrew Goehring -ARCHIBALD CRAVEN

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR, Casey McKeon – DICKON SOWERBY

OUTSTANDING CHORUS

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR

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Essex Town Meeting Approves $23.05 Million Town/Schools Spending Plan

ESSEX— A $23,056,963 combined town and schools budget plan for 2014-2015 won quick approval from voters Monday at the annual budget meeting. About 70 residents turned out for the meeting approving the budget on a voice vote with scattered opposing votes.

The total spending package, which is up by 1.64 percent from the current total, includes a $7,202,161 town government budget, a $7,742,313 appropriation for Essex Elementary School, and the town’s $8,112,489 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 budget was approved in a May 6 referendum, with voters in Chester and Essex supporting the budget while a no vote carried in Deep River.

The total spending package was approved at the meeting Monday without discussion, and no questions from the crowd on the property tax rate that will be required to support the spending. The board of finance is expected to set the tax rate for 2014-2015 at a meeting Thursday. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18,99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

An increase in the tax rate is required to cover a 7,72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property that resulted from the townwide property revaluation completed last year. The revaluation resulted in a decrease in assessed values for most residential property owners.

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Region 4 Superintendent Dr. Ruth Levy Wins TTYS Award

Dr. Ruth Levy

Dr. Ruth Levy

Tri-Town Youth Services recently presented its 2014 Generativity Award to Region 4 Superintendent of Schools, Ruth Levy. Dr. Levy has been with Region 4 Schools for eight years. During her initial three years, she served as Assistant Superintendent.

Dr. Levy was chosen for this award because of her leadership of the schools in the tri-town area. Dr. Levy attributes much of the schools’ success to the extensive collaboration that takes place among educators, government, social services, prevention programming. She cites involvement with Whelan, law enforcement, Tri-Town, Camp Hazen and Boards of Selectmen, Boards of Finance and Boards of Education all coming together to benefit the children. As she says, “it’s a wonderful place for children to grow up.”

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex. We coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most. Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

 

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Region 4 Budget Wins Referendum Approval on 319-253 Vote

 

REGION 4— Voters of Chester, Deep River and Essex approved the $18.37 million district education budget for 2014-2015 on a 319-253 vote in an eight-hour referendum Tuesday. The budget that funds the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School won voter approval in two of the three district towns, but was rejected by Deep River voters.

The vote in Essex was 191-60 in favor of the budget. Chester voters approved the budget on a 59-37 vote. In Deep River, where a higher share of the budget is expected to lead to a 0.85 mill hike in the tax rate, voters opposed the spending plan on a 156-69 vote. The 66-vote margin for approval was much closer than last year, when the budget was approved on a 274-145 vote.

The $18,377,431 budget represents a $601,431, or 3.38 percent, increased over current spending. The total budget is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed taxpayers in each town depending on the number of students from the town attending the two secondary schools.

The net budget is up by $579,395, or 3.31 percent. Each town had an increase in the Region 4 budget share, but Deep River had the largest increase of $442,063.

Board Chairman Chris Riley of Essex said he was hoping for better turnout, but is pleased the budget was approved. “While the turnout in Essex this year was a bit of a disappointment, I am pleased the Region 4 budget had been approved, he said. “Throughout our process of budget workshops, careful evaluation, and difficult decisions, our board has worked to balance the needs of students with being fiscally responsible to the communities we serve.”‘

Voter turnout for the annual referendum has been low and decreasing in recent years, but the total three-town vote of 572 was up from a turnout of 419 voters last year.  A total of 619 voters participated in the 2012 referendum.

 

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Regional School District #4 Appoints New Director of Pupil Services

The Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Schools are pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Sarah Smalley to the position of Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley previously served as a special educator, Department Coordinator, and Interim Associate Principal at Valley Regional High School from 2003- through 2011. She served as Director of Pupil Services in New Hartford, CT, a Pre-Kindergarten through grade six school district. Ms. Smalley continued her administrative experience as the Supervisor of Pupil Services in Region 17, Haddam-Killingworth for the past two years.

Ms. Smalley attended George Washington University for her Bachelors and Masters Degrees, and Sacred Heart University for her Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership.

Ms. Smalley comes to us from a family of educators, and serves her community as a member of the Region 18, Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education. We are pleased to welcome Sarah Smalley back home to our communities in her new position as Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley will begin her post on July 1, 2014.

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Essex Town Elementary School Budgets Unchanged After Public Hearing

ESSEX— The board of finance made no changes to a proposed $7.2 million town government budget and a proposed $7.74 appropriation for Essex Elementary School after a quiet budget hearing Thursday.

About 25 residents turned out for the public hearing. There were no objections or calls for specific changes to the spending plans,despite an anticipated increase in the property tax rate that is largely driven by the results of a townwide property revaluation completed last year. The revaluation, the first for Essex since the start of the national Great Recession in 2008, resulted in a 7.72 percent drop in the grand list of taxable property that is used to establish a tax rate.

The town government budget of $7,202,161 represents a $234,700, or 3.37 percent, spending increase over the current town government appropriation. The budget for the elementary school, $7,742,313, is up by $107,396, or 1.41 percent, from the current appropriation.

The total spending levy for 2014-2015 also incudes the town’s $8,112,489 share of the Region 4 education budget that funds the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle school. The Region 4 share is up by only $30,717, a much smaller increase than recent years because of a smaller rise in the number of students from Essex attending the two secondary schools.

Former Selectman Vince Pacileo asked the key question of the budget hearing, specifically where would the spending plans put the town’s tax rate when the new fiscal year begins in July. The current tax rate is 18.99 mills, or $18.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. The tax rate increased by 0.52 mills last year to current town/school spending.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said a tax rate of 20.4 mills would be required under the new grand list to cover current 2013-2014 spending. With total requested new spending of $372,813, a slightly higher tax rate could be required for 2014-2015. Under the new grand list, a tax mill raises about $1 million in revenue.
Pacileo also asked the expected total for the town’s undesignated fund balance at the start of the next fiscal year in July. Finance Director Kelly Sterner said the fund balance is expected to contain about $2.7 million.

The finance board will set a tax rate for 2014-2015 after the town and school budgets are approved by voters. The board could use a transfer from the fund balance to limit the tax increase for 2014-2015. But in recent years the board has not favored use of the fund balance to defray increases in the tax rate

The town government and elementary school budgets are scheduled for a vote at the annual budget meeting on May 12, though residents could petition for an eight-hour referendum vote on these components of the budget. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6.

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Region 4 School Board Stands by Proposed $18.37 Million Education Budget After Quiet Public Hearing

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education will stand by it’s proposed $18,377,431 education budget for 2014-2015 after a quiet and sparsely attended public hearing Monday.

Only three residents, all of them current or former officials from the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex turned out for the hearing Monday at John Winthrop Middle School. Present were two selectmen, Tom Englert of Chester and Dave Oliveria of Deep River, and former Region 4 board chairman Terry Stewart from Essex. There were no objections to the spending plan, which represents a $601,431, or 3.38 percent increase over the current budget. The budget funds the operations of the middle school and Valley Regional High School.

The $18,377,431 gross budget is reduced by $297,447 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $18,079,984 that is assessed the taxpayers of the three towns based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools. The net budget is up by $579,395, or 3.31 percent, from the current net billings to the towns.

Each of the towns will have some increase in the Region 4 appropriation. Deep River, with 308 students, will have the largest increase. The Deep River share of the net budget is $5,602,987, up by $442,063.

Chester, with 240 students, will have a budget share of $4,364,508 that is up by $106,615.34 Essex pays the largest share of the Region 4 budget. But 446 students, the town’s Region 4 assessment totals $8,112,489 and is up by only $30717 from the current amount.

Board chairman Chris Riley of Essex said the board, over three budget review sessions, had strived to prepare a budget that “reflects the priorities of the school district in a manner that is very respectful of the tax dollars.”

The budget goes to voters of the three towns in a 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum on May 6. The region 4 budget has won voters approval by clear margins in recent years, but with low voter turnout. The last time a Region 4 budget was defeated in a referendum was in 2001.

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Region 4 Elementary Schools Begin Breakfast Program

REGION 4— District elementary schools have begun offering breakfast to students in a grant-funded program that is expected to continue in future school years. The program began at the Chester and Deep River elementary schools on March 10, and started at Essex Elementary School this week.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said Director of Food Services Thomas Peterlik determined there was federal funding available for a school breakfast program, and later secured nearly $3,000 in grant funds even though the current school year is now entering its final months. She said the program started first at the Chester and Deep River schools because those schools have a higher number of students received free or reduced price school lunches under federal guidelines, though school officials quickly determined there would be sufficient funding to extend the program to Essex Elementary School.

Levy said the program should be a benefit for both students and working parents. She noted that numerous studies have confirmed that children learn better if they have eaten breakfast, while adding the program would offer “another option for parents.”

Peterlik said this week he decided to keep the breakfast options simple in order to begin the program as quickly as possible and utilize the funding available for the current school year. Students are offered a brown bag breakfast before the start of classes at a price of $1.25. The breakfast includes fresh fruit and milk each day, while other items vary from cereal to yogurt, pastries, or bagels with cream cheese.

Peterlik said student response over the past two weeks indicates the program would be a success. He said average daily participation since March 10 has been 39 students for Deep River and 29 students for Chester, with at least 27 students taking breakfast each day this week as the program was rolled out for Essex Elementary School. The district’s two secondary schools, John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School, had already offered breakfast for students and staff.

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