Efforts to share stories about inspiring teachers in the early stages of planning Saturday’s Great Newtown Reunion reunited one former Newtown student with a teacher who had deeply impacted her life. In the wake of 12/14, Kandice (Cohen) Castellino, a Head O’ Meadow, Newtown Middle School and Newtown High School alumnus, realized how vital it was to acknowledge the amazing educators she learned from throughout her time in the Newtown school system. One teacher in particular stuck out in her memory. “Mrs Koonce was exuberant,” Ms Castellino said of her seventh grade general science teacher at NMS. She remembers the 1995-96 school year with Nancy Koonce fondly, recalling enlightening discussions instead of cookie cutter lectures, her teacher’s vast knowledge of all sciences, from geology and biology to physics, and their class’s awe at National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) initial hope to colonize the moon by 2007.
On a blazingly hot and humid July 19, midway through the first session of the non-profit Jessica’s Camp horse training scholarship program, a half-dozen 6- and 7-year-old girls who are learning about things equine gathered near a corral at Kings Bridge Farm. Members of the New Jersey Pinto Horse Association opened a large horse trailer there and began giving the young girls a variety of horse-related items intended to equip them as they work toward becoming equestrians. The girls were the first participants in the Jessica’s Camp scholarship program, which provides equine training for children in need. The program is an outgrowth of The Jessica Rekos Memorial Fund.
Attendance was down last week, no doubt in large part due to the heatwave, but organizers would like to remind residents that there will be a Summer Jam Concert at Dickinson Park this afternoon. “The predicted weather for today looks as though it is perfect for a picnic in the park and some hands-on drumming and family fun,” said Erin Masotta, who approached Parks & Rec Director Amy Mangold earlier this year with the idea of a family and children’s summer concert series.
When four people see a play and then spend the 45-minute ride home arguing about it, and then the next day continue the discussion with family and friends who didn’t get to see it, well that must mean something, doesn’t it? Director Maryann Arcoleo-Koltun got marvelous performances from her two actors — Harry Lipstein as John the Professor, and Samantha Holomakoff as Carol the undergraduate — in this work that on one level meets Aristotle’s prescription for tragedy, while on other levels could be seen as is a study in the dynamics of power, an expose of sexism, and finally, a devastating satire of academia. Director Maryann Arcoleo-Koltun got marvelous performances from her two actors — Harry Lipstein as John the Professor, and Samantha Holomakoff as Carol the undergraduate — in this work that on one level meets Aristotle’s prescription for tragedy, while on other levels could be seen as is a study in the dynamics of power, an expose of sexism, and finally, a devastating satire of academia.
The Newtown Junior Action Alliance (NJAA) group has created an online survey for Newtown High School and Newtown Middle School students to fill out. The survey asks three questions, and will help NJAA members set up a fall event that Sarah Clements, who head of NJAA, said will focus on “transforming tragedy into positive change.” NJAA is looking to hold their event in the fall, but an exact time and date has not been set. She also said it will most likely be held at Newtown High School. In early April a number of Newtown High School students attended PeaceJam New England, a conference held at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, that featured Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and workshops on topics such as peace building and activism as service. PeaceJam New England was such a life changing event for many that members of NJAA wanted to bring something like it to Newtown.
The Town & Country Garden Club supports three of the floral islands that beautify intersections in the Borough: one at the intersection of Queen Street and Church Hill Road; one at the intersection of Glover Avenue and Route 25; and one where Queen Street and Glover Avenue meet. An ongoing difficulty has become a crisis in the recent spells of hot weather, that of adequately watering the island gardens. Established shrubs and native plants can withstand a dry spell, but rose bushes, potted plants, and annuals suffer. Members are hoping that stronger individuals or members of Scout groups or other clubs might be able to take on the task of keeping the gardens watered this summer and into the fall.
Popular television stars Kendall Schmidt, Logan Henderson, James Maslow and Carlos Pena, Jr — a/k/a Big Time Rush — who parlayed their global Nickelodeon-fueled popularity into a three album music sensation ended up going on about 50 minutes earlier than planned Monday night because of an impending rainstorm. That front began kicking up by the third song in and subsequently drenched a hearty crowd of residents who had gathered at Fairfield Hills — most of whom chose to stay even in the rain — until a lightning warning from safety officials hastened the group off the stage about 10 or 12 minutes shy of the planned one-hour set. Hundreds of residents were there when Big Time Rush and their producer, Newtown native Scott Fellows, delivered big on a promise that had been made to First Selectman Pat Llodra months ago: a free concert for Newtown.
Patrick Lomantini, owner of Lomantini the Salon in Wichita, Kan., and founder of BarkAID, will visit Newtown with his team of two other stylists, Alexis Longworth from Ohio and Zachery DiBella from Idaho, on Tuesday, August 6. It will be one of the first stops on his third annual 50 States in 50 Days BarkAID fundraising tour. The traveling hairstylists will join forces with Michele Schettino of Salon Michele, located at 6 Queen Street, to raise funds to support Kitten Associates, the home foster-based cat rescue group in Sandy Hook.
Town Historian Daniel Cruson’s newest book, Legendary Locals of Newtown, will be released by Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, S.C., on July 26. The book, a compilation of images and information on many of the men and women who have formed Newtown since its purchase from the native Pootatucks in 1705, will be available at book stores, online at Amazon.com, at Newtown Historical Society events, and locally at C.H. Booth Library and other outlets. Library sales of the book, priced at $21.95, will benefit the historical society. Mr Cruson began work on his 15th book, all historical in nature, a year ago, after being approached by the publishing company. Arcadia was familiar with his work, he said, as he has published three books in the company’s “Images of America” series: Newtown, Newtown 1900–1960, and Redding and Easton.