CT, Education, Schools, Stamford, Uncategorized

It’s All About The Journey… Your Neighborhood School Profile: Westhill High School

Westhill High School (WHS) started construction with the vision of two separate schools: freshman and sophomores in one building and juniors and seniors in the other. The thought was to separate the four year program into two, more “intimate” settings housed in the Finch and Raynor buildings.  The plan changed and school opened in 1971 as a traditional high school with all students having classes in both buildings. Now the Westhill campus, the city’s largest high schools also features an agricultural science facility, two all-sports artificial turf stadiums, and a 35-classroom building which houses the Freshman Academy. The school colors, purple and gold, and the mascot, the Viking, were borrowed from the Minnesota Vikings, the new NFL team that season.

Four decades later Westhill High School is thriving. A student body of roughly 2,500 students and nearly 200 certified staff work tirelessly to improve the teaching and learning environment for all learners. A multitude of AP course offerings, numerous electives, a JROTC program, an agricultural science program, dozens of clubs and numerous sport offerings have Westhill High School the place to be now  and for decades to come.

There’s so much going on here:

Columbia Press Awards and The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) which is affiliated with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism recently awarded Westhill High School’s student-run publication, The Westword, a Silver Crown Award during the 93rd annual Scholastic Convention in the category of Hybrid Newspaper. According to CSPA, publications are judged on design, photography, concept, coverage and writing. Crown Awards demonstrate overall excellence in the entire publication.

The Westword has a history of winning CSPA awards, and has earned commendations from the American Scholastic Press Association. Though the majority of the work done on The Westword is completed after school hours, many of the articles are written by students in Westhill’s Journalism and Communications classes. “The Westword’s mission, ‘the test of good journalism is the measure of its public service,’ is something that we truly strive for at all times,” said Lauren Schechter, Editor-in-chief (print). “To be commended for that effort only encourages us to push ourselves further.”

Creative Connections, an International Cultural Education Organization, selected WHS as the “2017 USA Art Partner of the Year.” The artwork of all the WHS AVID students participating in the ArtLink International Exchange Program was recognized by a jury of educators and artists as an outstanding collection of work. According to Creative Connections, the WHS students’ artwork, which reflected the theme “TEAM Up,” was selected based the cultural insightfulness, quality and uniqueness of the work.

 

The WHS theater program, Northstar Playmakers just wrapped up their Spring Musical, Guys and Dolls.  For more information on the theater program, check their website: http://westhilltheater.org/home

Westhill is a diverse high school representing more than thirty-five distinct nationalities within it’s student body. In Westhill’s media center, flags from around the world are hung from the ceiling to representing Westhill’s diversity and welcoming environment.

Westhill is about to come to the end of an era & the begin a new chapter with Michael Rinaldi  taking over as the new Principal on July 1, 2017.  Both a Stamford native and Westhill alum, Mr. Rinaldi has been serving almost 30 years in the Stamford School system.  It was the first time in nearly two decades that the board chose a new principal for WHS. The retiring Principal, Camille Figluizzi has been at WHS since 1998.

Rinaldi decided he wanted to become an educator while still a student at Westhill.  “It changed my life,” he said, “Westhill is where I discovered my passion for this work. I would not be a teacher today if not for the fact that I had the opportunity to work with special-needs students as a teenager.”

The Vikings are set to embark on a new era, continuing to support it’s diverse population and commitment to excellence

Standard
CT, Education, real estate, Schools, Stamford, Uncategorized

It’s All About The Journey … Your Neighborhood School Profile: Rippowam Middle School

 The school derived its name from the Native American tribe that inhabited Stamford and the surrounding area before European settlement.

Rippowam

Located on High Ridge Rd, at the center of the City of Stamford, Rippowam Middle School has an interesting history.  The school opened in the fall of 1961 as the second high school in the city.-Go Warriors!, (Baseball star Bobby Valentine was a standout football & baseball athlete and I went there too!). The high school remained open until 1983.

It’s building has served different educational age groups over the years. The building has been used for adult education, and was the home for the Magnet Middle School before the school moved to Scofieldtown Rd and was a temporary location for the Hart Elementary School.

The campus became the site of Rippowam Middle School in 2001.
The Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE), a regional magnet high school shared the building with Rippowam Middle School until August 2007, when it moved to its own building behind Rippowam.

IB programRippowam is an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) school.  IB program is founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968, the IB offers high quality programs of international education to a worldwide community of schools. There are three key concepts of the IB program used to plan the curriculum:

  • Holistic Learning: Teachers work together to design interdisciplinary unit planning, leading students to see learning as interrelated.

  • Intercultural: Students learn about their own culture and society as they learn about others.

  • Community: Rules and Regulations for students are shared with parents and the community. Rippowam supports inquiry, reflection and expression in multiple forms, and promotes community and global awareness.

The Connecticut State Department of Education recentlyCTDE awarded the prestigious 21st Century Community Learning grant s to the Rippowam Middle School.  The grant is intended to help students through the use of science-based practices and extended learning time.  Rippowam is to receive $807,500 over the next five years, the money is intended to serve 110 students per year.

Rippowam has a large, well-equipped auditorium and is home to its own drama group. High School Musical 2 is announced as their 2017 production.   Rippowam also hosted for All School Musical several years, presenting the young talents from every school in the city.

High School Musical 2

Standard
CT, Education, home, real estate, Schools, Stamford, Uncategorized

It’s All About The Journey … Your Neighborhood School Profile: Stillmeadow Elementary School

Welcome to Stillmeadow

Roaring With Pride!

color-pencils

Stillmeadow elementary School is nestled in the residential neighborhood of Westover.  Stillmeadow employs Positive Behavioral Instructional Support programs to build a positive school culture.

Mission Statement

“To read, to write,

To think critically, to learn deeply,

To reason, to analyze and evaluate information,

To communicate effectively in a variety of forms

And for a variety of purposes,

To inquire systematically into any important matter.”

classroom

At Stillmeadow, collaboration exists between administrators, teachers, parents, community, and students. This partnership helps to provide all students the ability to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful and lifelong learners.  Stillmeadow is a school where each child is treated with dignity and respect, and children are taught with the future in mind. Staff ensures that each child has the opportunity to be happy and successful every day.

Stillmeadow also participates in instructional data teams (IDT) to analyze and monitor student performance. Through these analyses, teachers identify student strengths and weaknesses, discuss strategies and determine a plan of action to increase student achievement. The IDTs, along with the School Governance Council, focus on district and school goals and initiatives to update the School Improvement Plan annually. In addition, the literacy coach and math liaison provide continuity in the reading and math programs by planning and participating in staff development. Student intervention programs include Leveled Literacy Instruction, Recipe for Reading, Read180, and Read About.

After school programs include tutoring, chess, recycled art, and other recreational programs.

One of the most outstnading features of this school is Twin Meadows, a boundless playground.  Bright colors, wheelchair accessible bridges and ramps, and tube slides make this playground a fun place for any child. When a Stillmeadow family had difficulties finding a playground where their twin daughters could play together – one of their daughters suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy from birth, they decided to build a boundless playground. The idea came to them after reading about another boundless playground in West Hartford. At Twin Meadows, there is something for every child. High back and seatbelt-equipped swings allow children with physical disabilities to swing next to children on typical swings.  This playground opened October 2003 assisting and educating students with special needs, and it’s been the pride and joy of the school since then.

Standard
real estate, Stamford

It’s All About the Journey … Finishing off – In the Basement!

Finishing a basement can bring you a double bonus.  It provides additional living space for a fraction of the cost of an addition to the house – the walls are already there, electrical and plumbing lines are easily accessible, and no additional foundation supports are necessary to start construction.  Also, a well-finished basement can add value to your house when you go to sell it – just don’t expect to get back all the money that went into it.

finished basement

The average basement remodel recoups about 69% of the original cost, according to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of Realtors.  As with most remodeling projects, rarely does anyone get a 100% return on their investment.  Improvements should be done to both enhance your lifestyle and to increase your homes’ selling potential.

Finished basements are particularly conducive for use as  media rooms, music rooms, a home office or a recreation room.  In all of these spaces, separation from the main living areas can be a plus!

Before you get started on your renovation, here are several things you need to know:

Know the Code

code book

It would be great to convert unused space to additional living space, but does your basement meet the building code requirements for livable space?   You must be in compliance with codes for ceiling height, and egress windows and/or doors.    It’s also time to check with your local municipality to see if you’ll be required to get any permits. This is particularly important if you’re planning plumbing, heating and electrical work, which most likely will need to be inspected.

Keep It Dry

02lg-basement-waterproofing-pump

Check for any water issues in your basement before beginning the planning process. Obvious signs are pools of water or drips coming through the below-grade walls or around windows and the bilco door. Check outside to make sure the ground is graded away from your foundation. Also look for cracks in your foundation walls and repair that damage if necessary. If there is a continuing water issue, there are a number of remedies available – from sump pumps to perimeter French drainage systems.

Ceiling Heights/Options

   drop ceiling   Drywall_ceiling_basement

As mentioned above, ALWAYS get necessary permits and know the building codes before you start a basement renovation (even if your contractor says it might not be necessary – it will become necessary when it’s time to sell).  If you have concerns about ceiling height, consider installing a drywall ceiling rather than a drop ceiling.  Drywall ceilings will give you a few more inches of headroom. Costs are comparable.   Inserting plastic access panels into a drywall ceiling will provide easier access to valves in the pipes above.

A drop or suspended ceiling offers a way to both conceal and provide access to electrical and plumbing lines via the removable tiles.  These ceilings will reduce the amount of overhead space available, so keep that in mind when planning.

 

Egress Windows and Doors

basement egress window  basement egress door

Basement living space requires emergency escape and rescue openings. Whether it is an egress window or an egress door, it has to open to the outside and open easily without the use of keys or tools.  It must also follow code requirements for the height and width of basement egress windows.

Keep Out the Cold

basement-insulation-fiberglass-foam

Even after taking care of any moisture issues, your basement can become a damp place. Check with your contractor to see if you’ll need to add a vapor barrier to the walls and/or  floors prior to framing and finishing off these surfaces.   You may also choose an insulation that includes a vapor barrier on both sides.  Adding insulation will not only help control the temperature inside your basement, it may also add another layer of moisture control.  Other options include a spray foam insulation. Be sure to check code requirements for this type.

 

Recessed Lighting

recessed_soffit_lighting

Recessed lighting in a basement is a good option because it doesn’t take up valuable overhead space that a light fixture would. It’s also easy to install if you decide to opt for a drop ceiling.

 

The Utility Room is Not for Finishing

mechanical room basement

Any space housing an HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) unit or units and water heaters need to remain clear, open, unfinished and ventilated. These spaces have specific code requirements for spacing and framing, plus you’ll need access for inspection and/or repairs.

A finished basement can be terrific “found space” but before you start daydreaming about all its’ potential, make sure your basement is a  good candidate for renovation –  if not, there’s nothing wrong with extra storage! 

 

Standard