August 19, 2022

Letter to the Editor: Armed Guards in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools — More Questions

To the Editor:

Does anyone, parents or voters, know yet how much more in taxes they will be forced to pay for the salaries and insurance coverage of armed guards in Region 18 schools? Region 18, OUR schools.

If this is public knowledge, I cannot find anything.

Nor can I find any information on whether the armed guards will also be present during after-school activities, including sports practices or games. Perhaps I missed something? I would think the liability insurance will be very high, since these guards are employees of Region 18 and due to the real risk of the guards accidentally shooting a parent, teacher, visitor or God forbid, a student.

I, for one, am unwilling to pay taxes for such a dangerous and ineffective initiative. Data, not “feelings” or political beliefs inform my opinion.
Superintendent Ian Neviaser rushed this through, with the help of the Region 18 Board of Education (BOE), despite parent opposition. Of note, there are no armed guards in the community he resides in, and where his own children attended school.
Demand answers from him and the BOE, and our selectmen and woman, Tim Griswold, Matt Ward and Martha Shoemaker. All can be contacted via email at first initial, last name ( no space) @oldlyme-ct.gov.
Sincerely,
Betsy Groth,
Old Lyme.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and child advocate 
Member GAGV ( CT Against Gun Violence)
Retired faculty, Yale School of Nursing

Lyme-Old Lyme High, Middle Schools Announce Q4 Honor Rolls

Lyme-Old Lyme High School
Quarter 4 Honor Roll   2021-22

HIGH HONORS

Grade 12:

Emily Almada, Grace Arnold, Dylan Avelange, Hannah Britt, John Caulkins, Grace Coverdale, Elise DeBernardo, Elizabeth Duddy, Eleanor Dushin, Lauren Enright, Meyer Goldberg, Austin Halsey, Lillian Herrera, Madison Hubbard, Fiona Hufford, Julia Johnston, Nevin Joshy, Kian Kardestuncer, Cora Kern, Robyn King, William Larson, Reese Maguire, Abigail Manthous, Mikayla Masilotti, Stephanie Mauro, Elle Myers, Emily Nickerson, Bella Orlando, Isabel Prentice, Jacob Ritchie, Margaret Rommel, Alexander Roth, Olivia Schaedler, Abby Speckhals, Drew St.Louis, Victoria Stout, Madison Thompson, John Videll, Evan Visgilio, Aidan Ward, Ellie Wells, Paige Winchell, Jenna Woods, Avery Wyman

Grade 11:

William Barry, Callie Bass, Livie Bass, Cooper Bowman, Ava Brinkerhoff, Jamie Bucior, Gretchen Burgess, Sarah Burnham, Hayley Cann, Liam Celic, Luke Celic, Alexander Chrysoulakis, Grace Colwell, Nicholas Cox, William Danes, Anna Davis, John Eichholz, Zachary Eichholz, Alexis Fenton, Matthew Grammatico, Willa Hoerauf, Arber Hoxha, Charlotte Judge, Aidan Kerrigan, Jair Lata Yanza, Jonah Lathrop, Ford Macadam, Marielle Mather, Kennedy McCormick, Madalyn McCulloch, Joseph Montazella, Madeleine Morgado, Alain Pecher-Kohout, Izzadora Reynolds, Benjamin Roth, Rhyleigh Russell, Stefan Ryer, Jenna Schauder, Dylan Sheehan, Anders Silberberg, Ned Smith, Alyssa Spooner, Mary Surprenant, Samantha Tan, Tova Toriello, Gesami Vazquez, Kaitlyn Ward, Harry Whitten, George Williams

Grade 10:

Alexis Antonellis, Beatrice Barnett, Oliver Berry, Alis Bicic, Drew Brackley, Natalie Buckley, Jackson Bullock, Sophia Cheung, William Coppola, Ava Cummins, Ella Curtiss-Reardon, Eric Dagher, Sydney Doboe, Eva D’Onofrio, Amelia Gage, Marcia Geronimo, Sydney Goulding, Alexis Grasdock, Justin Green, Ella Halsey, Mohamad Hamou, John Holzworth, Agatha Hunt, Beatrice Hunt, Sabina Jungkeit, Delaney Nelson, Isabelle O’Connor, Grace Phaneuf, Jack Porter, Haley Shaw, Hannah Thomas, Keara Ward, Louisa Warlitz, Mason Wells, Tyler Wells, Summer Wollack, Duohui Yan, Grace Zembruski

Grade 9:

Quinn Arico, Molly Boardman, Hannah Bonilla, Mark Burnham, Mason Bussmann, Chase Calderon, Andrew Clougherty, Tabitha Colwell, Gloria Conley, Andrea DeBernardo, Caeli Edmed, Anna Eichholz, Grace Ferman, Benedict Frazier, Manu Geronimo, Ava Gilbert, Kaela Hoss, Shyla Jones, Simon Karpinski, Olivia Kelly, Ella Kiem, Peter Kuhn, Ada LaConti, Elise Leonardo, Lana Lopes, Kanon Oharu, Sophie Pennie, Ysabel Rodriguez, Ryan Shapiro, Drea Simler, Charlotte Tinniswood, Nicholas Turtoro, Kathleen Walsh, Gabriella Ziegler

HONORS

Grade 12:

John Almy, Evan Clark, Ryan Clark, James Creagan, Lauren Creagan, Elias D’Onofrio, Victoria Gage, Shawn Grenier, Nicolette Hallahan, Andrew Hedberg, Zoe Jensen, Felse Kyle, Jacob Meyers, Michael O’Donnell, Adeline Riccio, Abigail Sicuranza, McLean Signora, Parker Sprankle, Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum, Alexandra Tinniswood, Riley Warecke, Melanie Warren

Grade 11:

Whitney Barbour, Jordan Beebe, Gillian Bradley, John Buckley, Jacob Derynioski, Kylie Dishaw, Angus Griffin, Dylan Hovey, Jacob Lopez-Bravo, Cooper Munson, Alexander Olsen, Olivia Powers, Kelsey Pryor, Jacob Rand, Jaden Reyes, Santiago Rodriguez

Grade 10:

Peighton Andrews, Jedidiah Arico, Emma Bayor, Morgan Bell, Elliot Bjornberg, Nicholas Cheesman, Sarah Colangelo, Adam Damiano, Alexis Frascarelli, Calla Gilson, Douglas Griswold, Katherine Gryk, Abby Hale, Sedona Holland, Grady Lacourciere, Griffin McGlinchey, Katherine Mullaney, Kayla O’Leary, Ronald Olin, Dylan Paynter, Luisa Raby, Cailin Ruhling, Cajamarca Salazar, Noah Sanford, Sydney Siefken, Madeleine Soriano, Kalea VanPelt

Grade 9:

Oliver Avelange, Zoe Eastman-Grossel, Janna Graves, Nicolas Hatch, Rowan Hovey, Aven Kellert, Andrew Liu, Abigail O’Brien, Cajamarca Salazar, Kelly Sheehan, Sarah De Paula Silva,

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School
Quarter 4 Honor Roll 2021-22

HIGH HONORS

Grade 8:

Ilona Binch, Zoe Brunza, Alec Butzer, Trevor Buydos, Makayla Calderon, Tyler Cann, Colman Curtiss-Reardon, Christopher Dagher, James Dahlke, Sophia D’Angelo, Rose Dimmock, William Donnelly, Elena Gerardo, Chase Gilbert, Alexander Glaras, Scarlette Graybill, Elizaveta Gregoire, Christopher Kachur, Thomas Kelly, Jade Lawton, Jayden Livesey, Emily Looney, Elise Marchant, Carter McGlinchey, Madeline Murphy, Sybil Neary, Nina Nichols, Ryan Olsen, Ryan Ortoleva, Taylor Quintin, Jenna Salpietro, Sophia Shaposhnikova, Luca Signora, Emma Singleton, Addison Spooner, Carson St. Louis, Andrew Taylor, Margaret Thuma, Madeleine Trepanier, Elisabeth Viera, Warren Volles, Oliver Wyman, Stella Young, Carl Zapatka

Grade 7:

Lucia Arico, Addison Arndt, Zak Avelange, Mia Bonatti, Morgan Buerger, Marla Bulas, Brooke Burgess, William Burgess, Anna Bussmann, Brennan Butzer, Chase Catalano, Isaac Chartier, Sophia D’Amico, Amirah D’Lizarraga, Elliot Dunn-Sims, Samson Edmed, Lauren Fulara, Angeline Gencarella, Antonio Gencarella, Gavin Goulis, Skylar Graybill, Tessa Grethel, Charles Halsey, Owen Holth, Marley Iaia, Elsa Jungkeit, William Kabel, Josephine Kiem, Paul Kuhn, Alexa Legein, Olivia Lovendale, Kaylee McCarthy, Matilda Miller, John Morosky, Emelia Munster, Grace Osborne, Eva Oulahan-Smith, Mia Palmer, Arthur Riccio, Ainsley Rinoski, Cameron Russell, Allegra Schaedler, Owen Shapiro, Kevork Shegirian, Nicholas Sokolowski, Madeline Stiles, Carli Teixeira, Magdalena Tooker, Kaylyn Vernon, Brody Ziolkovski

Grade 6:

Lillian Acosta, Lauren Belval, Scarlett Blatter, Vivian Boller, Noah Brant, Lana Brunza, Gabrielle Clark, Colin Discordia, Albert Enman, Katharine Ferman, Jonah Filardi, Avery Goiangos, Frederick Goss, Elaina Graves, Gavin Gray, Sawyer Graybill, Aiden Guidi, Alistair Hampton-Dowson, Colleen Harrington, Morgan Harris, Ryan Hill, Fiona Judge, Jillian Kleefeld, Kaedyn Koproski, Holden Leonardo, Graham Macadam, Benjamin Mattox, Liam McCormick, Charles McEwen, Caitlyn McHugh, William McKeever, Clarissa Mock, Naomi Mohn, Addyson Morosky, Marielle Munster, Remi Patz, Jonah Scheckwitz, Audrey Sheehan, Avery Spooner, Charlotte Thuma, Delilah Tooker, Jonathan Toriello, Renee Viera, Avery Wesch, Charles Zapatka, Ella Ziolkovski

HONORS

Grade 8:

Charlotte Antonino, Sienna Bari, Annabelle Coppola, Gabrielle Field, Benjamin Goulding, Anne-Marie Hinckley, Maya LeQuire, Jackson Pannier, Louis Patana, Marleigh Piacenza, Isabella Presti, Tanner Snurkowski, Charlotte Spiegel, Sydney St. Pierre, Meredith Thompson, John Turick, Connor Vautrain, Eve Videll, Katherine Zhang

Grade 7:

Collin Anderson, Phineas Barrett, Ceciley Buckley, Reagan Bullock, Lillian Calabrese, Johanna Coker, Brady Donovan, Edward Fiske, Taiyo Gemme, Kaedin Gerster, Samuel Gilbert, Harrison Goulis, Lauren Herrera, Marley Igersheimer, Allisondra Krol, Logan Krouch, Callahan Lacourciere, Logan Landry, Alexandria Sanford, Milo Stiles, Hunter Supersano

Grade 6:

Kaitlyn Ackerman, Ashlynn Edwards, Treyton LaConti, Rowan McCormick, Grace Morrissette, Ava Novak, Mila Pacelli, Abigail Singleton, Grayson Standish, Ashlynn Ward, Avery Zbierski

Neviaser Answers Questions on Armed Guards in LOL Schools (Podcast)

LYME/OLD LYME — In an interview published on June 23, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser fielded questions from Connecticut-East.com’s Brian Scott-Smith about the Region 18 Board of Education’s June 15 decision to arm security guards in LOL Schools. The vote was carried by a 7-2 majority.

Scott-Smith says the objective of the interview is “to find out how they [LOL Schools] got here and what it all means.

The interview can be listened to via this link on CTNewsJunkie.com and lasts around 20 minutes.

One of the questions Neviaser answers in this “very direct discussion,” is, “What’s the need for speed?” to which he counters, “I would not agree that this was rushed,” before responding in full.

He also discusses that he feels, after so many school shootings in the US, ‘The country has become numb to it [gun violence.]

In addition, Neviaser states that he firmly believes, “The quicker the response [to gun violence in schools], the more likely you are to save lives.”

Old Lyme’s DeBernardo Brings Home Three Golds, One Bronze From USA 2022 Special Olympics Games

Old Lyme resident Andrea DeBarnardo won three Gold medals and one Bronze at the 2022 Special Olympics USA held in June in Florida.

OLD LYME — In a remarkable feat, Old Lyme resident and Lyme-Old Lyme High School student Andrea DeBernardo won three gold medals, a bronze and a 5th place ribbon in the Special Olympics USA Games held in ESPN Worldwide Sports Complex at Orlando, Fla. from June 4 to 12.

She competed in Artistic Gymnastics along with over 50 individuals from other states in the country.  These individuals competed in Levels 1 to Levels 4.

DeBernardo moved to Level 3 this past year after sharpening her skills while participating in the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Gymnastics program.  During this program, she was able to develop her own floor routine, which is a component of the Level 3 Special Olympics program. Level 3 gymnasts are required to be independent and require minimal assistance from the coach during performance (i.e. balance beam).

Her head coach, Christine Corah, and Andrea’s sister Elise worked on choreographing DeBernardo’s routine during the winter season. DeBernardo has been working hard these last few months practicing three days a week to prepare for the Olympics event.

DeBernardo has been participating in the Special Olympics since she was in middle school. She competed in the following events and placed as shown:

Level 3 All Around                         Gold Medal
Level 3 Uneven Bars                      Gold Medal
Level 3 Floor Exercise                   Gold Medal
Level 3 Balance Beam                   Bronze Medal
Level 3 Vaulting                              5th place ribbon

Connecticut Special Olympics sent a total of 33 delegates to the USA 2022 Special Olympic Games with three of them competing in the gymnastics section. DeBernardo was chosen to be one of the three gymnasts to participate in this event in October 2021 and starting group training in January of 2022 with her two fellow team members.

DeBernardo’s mother, Irene, said by email to coach Corah, “Andrea appreciated all the support of her friends and family back at home during her competition that she received through the special messaging system the Special Olympics application created.”

She added, “Andrea has always felt part of the inclusive atmosphere that has been created at the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.”

Editor’s Note: Congratulations, Andrea, on this amazing achievement!

Board Votes on Proposal to Arm Security Guards in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Tonight; Live Stream, Public Comment Available

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser. (File photo)

OLD LYME — The Region 18 Board of Education meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Education Conference Room at Center School.  The fourth item on their agenda is a vote on the ‘Approval of Armed Security Guards [in Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools]’. 

A live stream of the meeting will be available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF2_W7yYtFwx067Ici9776Q/live

The second item on the agenda is Public Comment.

The agenda states, “While in person public comment is still acceptable, those wishing to make public comment virtually  may use the following Zoom link: https://region18.zoom.us/j/87635839590; Meeting ID: 876 3583  9590; +16465588656,,83527766795# US (New York).”

The agenda notes, “Those choosing this option will be required to follow the same expectations for those making public comment in person. After being recognized by  the chairperson, participants must state their name and place of residence before making their comments to the Board.”

The background to this vote is that on Friday, June 3, LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sent an email to all LOL Schools parents and staff stating, “At Wednesday night’s [June 1] Board of Education (BOE) meeting, the Board discussed my recommendation that we arm our school security staff beginning next school year.”

He continued, “This recommendation is based on long standing concerns over police response time to our schools should there ever be a life-threatening situation such as we saw in [Uvalde] Texas last week.”

Neviaser emphasized, “We do not take this decision lightly, but do feel that this additional preventive measure will add yet another layer of safety to all three of our campuses.”

An online tool called ThoughtExchange has been used to gather input from LOL Schools parents and staff anonymously. The window for feedback via that means ended on Sunday, June 12.

The methodology of the input-gathering involves, “A few survey questions and then one open-ended question.” This in turn leads to the submission and ranking of the respondent’s own thoughts, and then those of others.

Neviaser said in his email that he believed, “This online tool will help us to effectively gather a wide-range of thoughts in light of the abbreviated timeline to make this decision.”

The timeline to which Neviaser referred is the board’s decision to vote tonight on the measure. The reason for this short time-frame is that if the proposal is approved tonight, in Neviaser’s words, “There are numerous requirements that must be met to have this in place by August,” when the new 2022-23 school year commences.

Asked by email whether the community at large (meaning those who are neither parents of current students nor staff) could submit their opinions on the proposal, Neviaser responded to LymeLine that, “[They can] share their thoughts in the usual fashion via email [to him and/or BOE members] or public comment at the BOE meeting.” Emails can still be sent today through the end of the business day.

Neviaser had stated in his email to staff and students that, “All armed security officers must be retired state or municipal police officers with a minimum of 10 years of experience who have retired in good standing.  All of our current security personnel meet this standard.”

Asked how many security guards are currently employed by LOL Schools, Neviaser confirmed, “We currently employ four guards but are looking to arm five people as their supervisor (Director of Facilities and Technology) would also be armed as a backup.”

Characteristic of Kindness That Distinguishes Lyme-Old Lyme Class of 2022 ‘Will Make Everything, Anything in this World Possible’ (LOLHS Principal Wygonik)

And they did it! The Class of 2022 celebrates their graduation from Lyme-Old Lyme High School with the traditional hat toss.

OLD LYME — The weather was perfect Friday evening for the graduation ceremony of the 126-member Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Class of 2022.

We have published in full (below) the speeches that were given during the event in the order in which they were delivered.

A full listing of the graduates is printed at the foot of the article.

More photos will be added later on Saturday.

We send our heartiest congratulations to the LOLHS Class of 2022 and wish them a wonderful, fulfilling future!

Here they come … Photo by H.C. Scott.

Class President Frank Sablone — Welcome from the Class

Good afternoon to everyone and welcome to the Lyme-Old Lyme commencement ceremony, filled with tradition and celebration of our community and our graduating class of 2022. The first thing that I want to say here today is that it is an honor and a privilege to be speaking at this graduation. 

As I stand before you all today, and I gaze around at my family, classmates, friends, teachers, administrators, and community members, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. Knowing that nearly everybody who has impacted my life up until now is here, in one place at one time, is a feeling that words fail to describe. 

When we first entered high school, as anxious little freshmen, we couldn’t have imagined that one day we would be sitting here, as mature and confident seniors at graduation, ready to part ways with each other and take on the world. This class is special. It is filled to the brim with talented students – award winning artists, championship athletes, determined scholars, and so much more.

However, what sets this class apart from the rest is the character of this class.

Defined by kindness and leadership, our class has an abundance of genuinely good people who are eager to put those around them before themselves. When one of us falls, there are 126 of us ready to pick them up and brush them off. We have consistently motivated and encouraged each other to achieve our goals, while always reminding each other to relax and enjoy our time here. We have offered each other so much support and warmth from the time we were children, allowing our class to become a family.

This is what makes today so bittersweet. This class is the most caring, loyal, and compassionate group of people that I have ever been so fortunate to know. Growing up with you all has been a pleasure. 

To our teachers, faculty, community, and families – I want to offer a heartfelt thank you on behalf of our class, for consistently teaching and inspiring us with these morals and guiding us with welcoming minds and hearts to soon become impactful people on this world. I urge my classmates to continue making your mark, striving for great heights, enjoying your time, and most importantly, loving one another the way that we have been taught – the Old Lyme way. We have the potential to make a difference in this world and make our hometown proud, piece by piece, step by step, day by day. 

In the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” This will certainly be the hardest goodbye that I’ve ever had to say, but I am left with so much knowledge, advice, and memories that will follow me everywhere in life, and I can be nothing but proud to be a member of this graduating class. They say it takes a village to raise a child – so thank you, Old Lyme, for being the village that has raised us into purposeful and passionate young adults.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Principal James Wygonik

Lyme-Old Lyme Principal James Wygonik tells the Class of 2022, “”I know that you will be our leaders.  You will advance our sciences.  You will inspire us with your talents. But most importantly your kindness, will foster an environment that will make everything and anything in this world possible.”

To our Board of Education, Superintendent Neviaser, administrative team, the best teachers in America, families, alumni, community members, and of course the class of 2022, it is my honor to welcome you to the 49th Lyme-Old Lyme High School graduation exercises.     

To the parents and families of our graduates.  Thank you. Thank you for trusting us with your children.  May I remind the graduates that your families are your biggest fans.  They will be there for you.  And believe me, you will need them.  Never take for granted their love and support.  You will be astonished how smart your parents will become in the next few years.  Don’t be afraid or too proud to lean on them. I am going to pause my remarks, so each of you to take the next few seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are today.  

In his speech, President Sablone reflected on your kindness and how much this class cares for one another.  I couldn’t agree more.  Class of 2022, I don’t think you realize is how powerful your actions are… How the small acts of kindness; the “hello’s”, the “thank-you’s” the “holding of a door; the small compliments, change lives. Allow me to explain. 

At the prom this year we had a senior, who, let’s just say gets his money’s worth on the dance floor.  As the song concluded and this young man having spent his last ounce of energy, lay sprawled on the dance-floor, instantly, without hesitation, two hands reached down to help him up. Those hands belonged to two other seniors with different interests and most likely different social circles.  The entire interaction lasted less than 10 seconds and probably went unnoticed by everyone else.  One could even argue that the three students involved never gave it a passing thought.  But it spoke volumes of the Class of 2022.  Actually, it’s just one word.  

KINDNESS. You are just kind human beings.  I’ve actually witnessed some of you talking to and being nice to freshmen.  It doesn’t end there.

A few months ago, when the mask mandate was lifted, every student in a senior English class continued to wear their masks in class because they knew their teacher had a medically compromised family member.  Despite the assurances from the teacher that they could remove them, they didn’t.  Do you think this gesture made it easier for the teacher to teach?  You bet it did.  Do you think it fostered an environment that brought out the best in everyone in that class?  You bet it did.  Is our school culture stronger?  You bet it is.  Was it hard to do?  No.

Just kind.

It turns out there is some science behind it.  

Researchers at Dartmouth tell us this about kindness.

Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces a hormone that sets off a chemical reaction that dilates our blood vessels which in turn lowers blood pressure. Kindness is cardioprotective. Another side-effect of kindness, and my personal favorite.  That same hormone slows the ageing process.  

An act of kindness reduces the emotional distance between two people and so we feel more ‘bonded’.  It’s something that is so strong in us that it’s actually a genetic thing. We are wired for kindness.

Our evolutionary ancestors had to learn to cooperate with one another. The stronger the emotional bonds within groups, the greater were the chances of survival and so ‘kindness genes’ were etched into the human genome.

So today when we are kind to each other we feel a connection and new relationships are forged, or existing ones strengthened. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a recipe for success to me.  

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed watching our softball team compete in the conference championship game.  Later that evening as the senior banquet was wrapping up, two of our seniors on the team Victoria Gage and Lauren Creagan made it a point to come up to me and thank me for coming to the game.  They had no idea how that exchange propelled me over in these past few weeks.  The month of May in a high school is hectic, demanding, and draining.  Admittedly I was running on fumes.  But those few kind words reminded me why we do what we do and inspired me to forge ahead.  Thank you, ladies.

Which brings me to the final scientific fact.  Kindness is Contagious. Kindness causes more kindness.  The great people at Lyme Youth Services have worked tirelessly over the years to create programming that will help our students, our families, and our community live better lives.  But in my opinion, their best work, their most powerful impact, rests in the signs they recently produced.  You will see them around town we have one here.  They read KINDNESS MATTERS.  I believe it’s really that simple. So… If we know an act of kindness lowers your blood pressure, slows down aging, strengthens human bonds, increases productivity, improves self-worth and is contagious, which all in-turn makes us a better school, a better, community and a better country.  Why not?

When I talk to friends of mine, the common consensus is that the world is broken and the future doesn’t look much better.  My outlook is much more positive.   Few understand my optimism.  Why?  Because they don’t drive across the Connecticut River in the morning, take exit 70, and spend every day with you.  I know something they do not.

I know that you will be our leaders.  You will advance our sciences.  You will inspire us with your talents. But most importantly your kindness, will foster an environment that will make everything and anything in this world possible. 

Class of 2022, remember that once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.  You will always have a home here.

Good luck my friends.  Thank you.

Commencement Speaker: LOLHS Science Teacher Richard Fisler

Commencement Speaker, LOLHS Science Teacher Richard Fisler explained to the Class of 2022, “Who you are is not defined by how others perceive you.  To find peace and satisfaction in life, let yourself go, and be who you are in the moment.  Your need for acceptance can make the real you invisible.”

To the administration, teachers, parents, family, friends and of course the motley crew that is the class of 2022, I welcome you and thank you for the opportunity to speak today. As my students and colleagues know, I’m usually very shy and not outspoken, so please bear with me…

When Mr.  Wygonik told me you selected me to speak at this auspicious occasion, I couldn’t believe it. “You be buggin” I said to him. He said – “I’m not buggin. They want you to speak.” I said “No Cap?” he said “No Kizzie”  (Thanks Ahmed for boosting my vocabulary this year). 

 I searched high and low to find the right words to give you. I was going to Google what to say, but I didn’t want to have to write a bibliography in MLA format. What do you the students want from this speech today?  Mary Wholean told me to just talk about her for five minutes. Given the spiciness of her jokes, I’m sure I’d be dragged off the stage by Mr. Neviaser and asked to find employment elsewhere.  

Lizzie Duddy told me she didn’t care what I said, as long as I gave her material for Graduation Speech Bingo. Sorry Lizzie, I’m not going to cry and will not be quoting an author you’ve never heard of. I might however, throw in a dad joke or 2.

Then I thought of asking a few other seniors I’ve had. Maybe I can ask Lillian or Dylan. These two are so quick, they’re even fast, asleep. Alas, I decided to go it alone and listen to the voices in my head. They have gotten me this far in life and they know where the bodies are buried so I have to keep listening.

Whatever I’m about to say, I can’t tell you how happy I am to speak in front of you. As my students know, the reason I teach is not some selfless act. Most of you know I wasn’t always a teacher, career wise. Some of you believed me when I told you my teaching day is part of my work release program as I pay the price for past white collar crime. What it really boils down to is that I need people to pay attention to me. Anyone from my class know why I need attention?  That’s right I got no love as a child, so this makes up for it. 

Movies about teachers and students invariably end with the teacher saying, or thinking “You’ve taught me more than I’ve taught you”. Yep Hallmark card stuff. Ask Ms Rahr. There’s probably a Hallmark movie about a teacher at Christmas. but in some cases it’s true. I mean, I never knew about Woo-back Wednesday until Frank Sablone taught me about Pop Smoke. There are one or two school-appropriate songs in his catalog, but all kidding aside, his life story carries a message. Life is short. Too damn short. Make the most of it.

We strive to teach you skills rather than facts. Things like thinking globally, analytical and critical thinking. Fundamentally, we hope that you learn to ask as many questions as you are asked, and keep probing until the answers are satisfactory, or uncover those answers for yourself.  I’ve witnessed it first-hand. You’ve learned to tackle life’s difficult questions. 

For example, any of you who have taken physics knows why a bicycle can’t stand up by itself. Anyone care to shout it out? That’s right, a bicycle can’t stand up by itself because it’s two tired.

Seriously, though. I’ve seen you tackle harder, seemingly impossible questions that are thrown at you. There are physics questions, like is gravity real or just a warping of space-time due to the mass of the earth, and how much cushion does an egg really need to not break when dropped from the school roof. 

But you’ve learned to dig deeper, and take the skills  beyond the classroom. Questions like “Is water wet?” “Are there more doors or wheels in the world”  and “Is a hot dog a sandwich?”. The analytics involved in these questions bested any physics discussion I’ve had (maybe with the exception of Jack who continues to negate everything I’ve taught him by disproving the existence of electrons).  The conviction, nay, the pure passion in hearing John Videll orate to three cafeteria tables full of students hungry for the truth as much as a delicious lunch on the facts and data supporting that there are more wheels than doors should be in the Smithsonian along with the Lincoln-Douglas debates. 

To the parents, guardians and any adults that have had an impact on the development of these young adults, I say “Great work!” Take a bow, and then take a back seat. Your job is done.  Phew! Job well done.  I have 2 daughters, and both are off in the world now. Once they graduated high school, my thoughts and ideas were advice and suggestions and part of discussions of the pros and cons of any decision they needed to make.  Let’s face it, we barely know what’s going on in our own lives, there is no way we know for certain the right path for these individuals. Sit back and enjoy the wonderful ride that is life with adult children. Be supportive in their decisions, but let them make any mistakes they might make – we’ve all made a ton, and learned from them. 

So students – You’re on your own. No need to listen to your parents anymore. Go to them for wisdom and advice and love and support, but make your own path. Scary? Only if you let it be so. For me, leaving home and going to college was the splash of water in the face I needed to wake me up to life and how it was all up to me. You see before you a proud high school graduate with a 2.5 GPA. Guess who cares about that now? No one. Guess who cared about it the day after I left high school? No one.

High School was a foundational time for me as it was for you. The experiences of the last four years are tools in your toolbox to help you make decisions for the next phases of your life.  Whether you’re going off to college, working, joining the military or taking some time off to travel or think about what’s next, you’ve got a clean slate now. Make the most of every day.

One thing you’ll learn, if you haven’t learned it already, is that no one really knows what’s going on. We all try to do the best we can given what life throws at us. People who tell you how to live your life haven’t figured out their own deal yet.

Don’t let anyone tell you how you “should be”. Be true to yourself and if they don’t like who you are or the way you live your life, give them a smile and move on. Now in New Jersey we might fit them for cement shoes, but that’s Jersey for you.

If you take one pearl of wisdom from your time with me, please let it be this: 

Who you are is not defined by how others perceive you.  To find peace and satisfaction in life, let yourself go, and be who you are in the moment.  Your need for acceptance can make the real you invisible. Cogs in the machine are turned by others, not by themselves. Risk being seen in all of your glory. Can I get an Amen? 

Delaney Gagnon created the motto of Period 3 physics this year. In a rare situation where the class was distracted (OK maybe not so rare, but let’s blame that on COVID …) she said “Hey, let’s go. We’ve got Science to Science”.  A call to action that we used all year to bring the class together. I rephrase it to you tonight. Let’s go. You’ve got life to live.  Make it count for you and for everyone fortunate enough to be in your life. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have shared the last few years with you. Thank you!

Honor Essayist Abby Speckhals

Honor Essayist Abby Speckhals urged the Class of 2022 to, “Always remember to step back and think about who you want to be because someday, you will not be who you might be, you will be who you are.”

To all of our teachers, administrators, and families, thank you for supporting us graduates during the past four years. As you can imagine, it feels impossible to describe how our experiences together have impacted my life, but, I guess that is exactly what I am challenged with today.

First, I would like to share with you all a phrase that began as a joke but has grown to symbolize much more. A few years ago, I was browsing through a thrift store with my cousins, and I stumbled upon a royal blue sweatshirt picturing the snow monster from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television show in between the words “Beast Mode.” Ok, if you are struggling to picture that in your head, let me just show it to you. It was one of those items that you will only find once in your life, and I thought it was funny so, why not buy it? Little did I know “Beast Mode” is a phrase that can be applied to many aspects of life.

Although the dictionary defines a beast as a “wild animal that is large and dangerous,” I have come to redefine a beast as any person searching for the people and activities that bring them energy and happiness. It took me a while to realize, but I now see that my beast mode has been fueled during the past four years here at LOLHS.

I’m sure we have all had teachers that made us smile and helped us get through those long days. From forcing Barbies to bungee jump in Mr. Lillie’s class and battling the gremlins that haunt Mrs. Kelley’s smartboard to hearing Mr. Fisler play the guitar through the stone wall in the neighboring classroom, my happiness was often fueled during my time in the science department.

My fellow graduates, you have also helped to feed my life with energy. When it came time for us to tackle our senior projects this year, I’m going to be honest, I was skeptical at first. A 20-minute presentation and an 8-page essay? No thank you. But as I reflect on this concluding project of our high school careers, I can’t help but feel grateful for how we have learned about what “Beast Mode” means to each other, even if we didn’t refer to our interests using that phrase.

On a typical school day during this past Spring semester, I walked into Mr. Goss’ woodshop to work on, you guessed it, the robot, and I saw Alex crafting together his camping trailer from scratch. I headed to the auditorium to practice driving the robot, and at the same time, Austin was practicing his composed songs on the piano, so I got some nice background music. As I opened up Instagram that afternoon, I was met with Emily’s posts congratulating seniors on their post-high school plans and pictures of delicious desserts made by Lizzy.

These projects not only allowed for each of us to fuel our beast modes with different activities, but also I found myself learning about my peers as people rather than classmates. Thanks to high school, we have all encountered people and hobbies that make us beasts thrive.

To conclude, I’d like to share a few lines from the book Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin: “kids are adorable little maybes: Maybe they’ll be president, or walk on Mars…or run a three-minute mile. But the older you get…the fewer maybes you got. So you wake up one day and…You’re not what you might be. You’re just what you are.”

As we step away from Lyme-Old Lyme High School, I want to remind you all that we still have plenty of maybes ahead of us. Maybe you will discover a new hobby, maybe you will meet a new best friend, maybe you will find your own “Beast Mode” sweatshirt. But always remember to step back and think about who you want to be because someday, you will not be who you might be, you will be who you are.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Combined Choirs sang the Class Song. Photo by H.C. Scott.

Salutatorian Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum

Salutatorian Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum reminded hs peers to, “Remember that you are always in control of what you do and your own attitude. Remember how you feel when everything is perfect, and remember how you feel when you hit rock bottom. Remember that there is so much to appreciate and your attitude is key.”

Thank you, everyone, for coming. And thank you to the Board of Ed, faculty, families, and students among us. When I found out that I would be speaking at graduation, I knew it would be a struggle for me. I feel that I have not lived enough of life to get up here and dish out advice for everyone. And I know that I need those life lessons just as much, or more, than everyone here today.

That said, I wanted to simply say a few words about happiness. A few words about what it means to be happy. Truly happy, the kind of happy that sticks with you for an hour, a day, a week, and then forever. And a few words on how you might figure out such happiness for yourself, so that you can feel unstoppable, but also at peace with yourself. I am not here to tell anyone how they must live their life. Rather, I’m here to remind everyone, including myself, of one of the most important aspects of life.

Being happy is not just the good, or the bad. It is both. It is impossible to be happy if you are not upset at times, as life is just a balance of these two things. Too much of one is just as dangerous as too much of the other. But it is possible, and also important, to try to be happy as often as possible. Life can be a lot. It can be unpredictable, cruel, and oftentimes unfair. It is only your attitude that will make a difference, and that is a big difference. Being happy is simple, but not easy. Every day, we each go through countless emotions. The good: excitement, pride, gratitude, joy, fun, and the bad: anger, sadness, jealousy, fear, stress.

And this is inevitable – no matter how much you may think you are in control of what happens to you, almost everything around you is out of your control. There is no way to control what other people think. There is no way to control what other people say. And, perhaps most importantly, there is no way to control what other people do. And so it makes sense that you spend life going from one emotion to another: life is always changing. But there are a few things that you can change, and that is what you think, what you say, and what you do. This is your attitude towards life.

So, if there is one thing that you should remember from my speech, it’s this – always, always, always look on the positive side. The way you look at things will not change what happens, yes. Being positive or negative will not make you more or less successful. But seeing the good in everything and everyone will make everything brighter, and you will enjoy your life much more. 

Now this is much easier said than done. I said being happy is simple, not easy. I stand by that. I also said that happiness is different for everyone. I also stand by that. However, I recommend that everyone, no matter what, spends at least 10 minutes a day being thankful and appreciative. Not as an excuse to think about what problems you may have, or blessings you don’t have, but the exact opposite.

Be thankful and appreciative of your friends and family. Maybe be thankful for the Connecticut River. Or appreciate an ice cream sundae. Say thank you to someone who has always been there for you. Enjoy the nice warm weather in the summer, and have fun in the snow in the winter. And always, appreciate the hard work that you have put in and be proud of yourself.

The most difficult part is to be grateful for everything that you may take for granted when you are not doing well and life is working against you. Work on making your attitude unwavering. The most impressive people are those who are happy and kind when their own life is falling apart, and it is these people who truly have life figured out.

Remember that you are always in control of what you do and your own attitude. Remember how you feel when everything is perfect, and remember how you feel when you hit rock bottom. Remember that there is so much to appreciate and your attitude is key. Because once you are content with yourself, that is when you can make a real difference.

If you are ever having a really horrible day, try doing something nice for someone else. Buy lunch for someone, or compliment a friend. Pick flowers. I know a lot of people who love to go for long drives with the windows down and the music up. I seriously recommend listening to salsa music as loud as you can and trying to dance along when no one is watching.

Whatever it is, never forget all that you have and all those who have been there for you, and pretty soon you will live an unforgettable life, and who knows, you might have an unforgettable impact on those around you.

Thank you everyone for giving me the time and place to talk here today, and I wish everyone much success in finding their own happiness.

Valedictorian Felse Kyle

Valedictorian Felse Kyle told her peers, “Since we began school, and especially over the past four years, our class has created its own little community, thriving off of each others’ successes and triumphs, and lifting each other back up on those days when one of us falls.
Our strength is our community. So much of what we are is a result of this community.”

Good evening. First of all, I’d like to thank all the teachers, faculty, and staff for supporting, teaching, and guiding us over the past four years. You inspire us every single day, and have managed to find a way to encourage us even on those days when we didn’t necessarily feel like learning, so thank you.

I’d also like to thank our friends and family members for being here to celebrate with us today, as we certainly would not be sitting in these seats without your love and support. Finally, I’d like to thank the rest of my class, the class of 2022, for making my high school experience as special as it was. You really are the best!

It wasn’t until about a week ago that it hit me, we’re graduating! For nearly the past decade and a half of our lives, we’ve been safely ensconced in the same familiar place with the same familiar people, and all of the sudden that’s changing. In just a few months, these people, who have shared so much of their lives; the playground swings, the fifth grade picnic, the eighth grade trip to Boston where all the teachers engaged in some funky dancing, the pep rallies, the field days, and of course, the tailgate breakfast, will all be moving on to new and exciting adventures, as they should.

This class is so full of talent, and idealism, and character, that I have not a single doubt that they are leaving here to change the world, and that fills me with awe, it inspires me, and truth be told, makes me feel really confident about the future of our nation and our planet!

We have been fortunate, in a day and age when nothing is certain, to have been raised and to live in a place where real community exists, the type of community where people take care of their neighbors, and give freely of their time. A place in which “it takes a village” is woven into the very fabric of civic life.

We have been blessed to have this safe place, where we’ve been nurtured and protected, and allowed to explore and experiment.

A place to not only apply, practically, the lessons of the classroom, but also a place where we have been allowed to explore who we are and who we might be, where we’ve been able to change and experiment with our styles and pursue new interests, to try new things, make new friends, to discover and to learn freely without ever feeling burdened by the stares of judgmental eyes. We inhabit a place so full of unique talents, ideas, and experiences, that it is impossible to have a conversation with someone in this town and not walk away without deeper knowledge or a broader perspective.

Since we began school, and especially over the past four years, our class has created its own little community, thriving off of each others’ successes and triumphs, and lifting each other back up on those days when one of us falls.

Our strength is our community. So much of what we are is a result of this community.

You have seen the support and love we have for each other everywhere imaginable, whether that be between teammates on the court or field, in the student section at a basketball game, on the stage and in the audience at any production put on by our players and musicians, and in the classroom as we learn and explore together.

Most importantly, we have been there for each other as our curiosity has sparked our passions and interests, and in so doing, we have been able to witness the nascence of world class physicists, bakers, drummers, ball players, writers, singers, dancers, engineers, artists and musicians, of changemakers and tastemakers.

As you venture forth, remember this example of community and continue to build it around you, let it propel you, and propel others, let trust and collaboration and inclusion not only be the instruments of beneficial change, but of security, safety and real happiness, let diversity and equity make you stronger.

I could not be prouder to be a part of the class of 2022, this class of willing, selfless and peerless leaders, and as we prepare to embark on the next leg of our journey, I beseech you to always remember the love that our little school and town has gifted you. As you go forth to expand and broaden our community, remember that those sitting beside you, and those joining you today, are your biggest fans. You can always rely on their encouragement, and their assistance. Remember to share your new adventures and triumphs with them. They want to hear!

There is no place I would have rather grown up and have spent my four years of high school in. I feel incredibly fortunate to have this enormous family of classmates and teachers and neighbors, so thank you again, every one of you, for making this our home.

The Mildred Sanford Outstanding Educator Award was presented to math teacher Lauren Rahr.

The Class of 2022

Congratulations to the Class of 2022! Photo by H.C. Scott.

CLASS OFFICERS

Frank Sablone, President
Ellie Wells, Vice President
James Creagan, Secretary
Olivia Turtoro, Treasurer
Mary Wholean, Class Historian

CANDIDATES FOR DIPLOMAS

Nicholas Mark Adeletti
Emily Rose Almada
John Cochrane Almy λ ω
Grace Avery Arnold λ ω*
Dylan Christophe Avelange *
Mason Tyler Bagwell
Kate Ann Bauchmann
Andrew James Bennett
Nihad Bicic ω*
Hannah Faith Britt λ π ω*
Mackenzie Rose Bussolotti ω
Olivia Faith Catalano
John Noah Caulkins
Evan Davis Clark π ω*
Ryan Joseph Clark ω*
John Thomas Coffey
Anne Josephine Colangelo λ ω
John Glynn Conley λ π ω Ϯ
Brody Robert Cooke
Sean Patrick Cordock
Chadwick Skelly Coughlin
Grace Madeline Coverdale ω
James William Creagan ω
Lauren Elizabeth Creagan ω
Caroline Grace Crolius λ π ω
Elias Orion D’Onofrio ω*
Elise Marie DeBernardo λ ω
Michael Dennis DeGaetano *
Cheikh Ahmed-Tidiane Diagne
Bridget Kaley Donovan
Elizabeth Mackenzie Duddy ω
Eleanor Eliza Dushin λ π ω* Ϯ
Mischa Jo Elmoznino *
Lauren Grace Enright λ ω Ϯ
Liam Michael Fallon
Iona Dominique Fitzgerald
Patrick Lynch Flanagan
Victoria Noel Gage λ π ω*
Delaney May Gagnon
Samantha Brie Geshel λ ω*
Aiden John Goiangos ω
Meyer Joseph Goldberg
Ethan Ryan Goss
Shawn Ryon Grenier ω
Liam Henry Grethel ω Ϯ
Nicolette Cote Hallahan λ ω
Austin Copp Halsey λ π ω
Jackson Wells Harris ω
Andrew Edward Hedberg λ ω*
Lillian Isabel Herrera ω*
Daniel Joseph Hoblin
Madison Grace Hubbard
Fiona Dorothy Hufford λ π ω*
Samuel Edward Ibbitson
Zoe Emma Jensen ω*
Julia Lee Johnston ω
Saige Matthew Jones
Nevin Varkey Joshy λ π ω* Ϯ
Kian Kardestuncer ω* Ϯ
Quinn Ampersand Kegley *
Prudencia Therese Kennedy
Cora Catalina Kern π ω
Robyn Summer King ω
Ingrid Mary Klier
Michael Richard Klier λ ω
Joseph Bernard Kuhn
Felse Alexandra Kyle λ π ω* Ϯ
William Christopher Larson λ π ω*
Olivia Frances Lecza
Alex Almeida Lee *
Zachery Thomas Lodi
Reese Jameson Maguire ω
Abigail Eve Manthous λ π ω*
Langley Marion Marshall
Mikayla Grace Masilotti
Stephanie Marie Mauro π ω*
James Rudolph Mazzalupo
Grace Corbett McAdams ω
Colin Ryan McCarthy
Emily Virginia Mesham λ ω
Jacob Douglas Meyers
Evan Michael Montville
Evan David Morgan ω
Samuel Alias Mullaney ω
Elle Jolie Myers λ π ω*
Emily Nicole Nickerson
Brendan Patrick O’Brien λ ω
Michael St. John O’Donnell ω
Bella Kai Orlando ω*
Daniel George Parker
Isabel Caryl Prentice ω
Lauren Elizabeth Presti
Adeline Michelle Riccio λ ω
Jacob Paul Ritchie λ ω
Margaret Jeanne Rommel ω*
Alexander Joseph Roth λ ω
Aidan Lee Russell λ ω*
Frank Louis Sablone λ ω
Olivia Fu Xin Schaedler π ω
Calvin Nicklas Scheiber λ π ω*
Abigail Jane Sicuranza λ π ω*
McLean Ivana Signora ω*
Abby Katherine Speckhals λ π ω*
Parker James Sprankle
Drew Michael St. Louis ω Ϯ
Daniel James Stack
Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum λ π ω* Ϯ
Victoria Grace Stout ω
Maverick Anthony Swaney λ ω
Madison Grace Thompson π ω
Alexandra Katherine Tinniswood
Olivia Elizabeth Turtoro λ π ω
John Russell Videll ω
Evan Joseph Visgilio
Aidan Matthew Ward λ π ω*
Riley John Warecke
Melanie Emma Warren λ ω*
Ellie Donna Wells λ π ω*
Mary Katherine Wholean ω*
Aden River Wilson
Paige Alyssa Winchell
Jenna Claire Woods λ ω
Avery Richard Wyman ω
Ryan Everett Zbierski ω
Jerry Derui Zhang π ω Ϯ

λ Member National Honor Society, Silver Honor Cord
π Member World Language Honor Society, Silver Honor Cord
ω Academic Letter Recipient, Gold Academic Distinction Honor Cord
* Seal of Biliteracy, Gold Academic Distinction Honor Cord
Ϯ AP Scholar, Gold Academic Distinction Honor Cord

Lyme-Old Lyme Seniors Celebrate Upcoming Graduation with Joyful Parade

All photos by Michele Dickey except where indicated.

OLD LYME — It may have poured Thursday morning but nothing was going to rain on the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Seniors planned parade that evening. By the evening, however, skies were clear and the soon-to-graduates, who will celebrate their Commencement tonight, organized their now decorated cars into a line at the high school.

They then drove down Lyme Street and McCurdy Rd. to cheers, clapping and great jubilation. But there were not only  cars in the parade. There were trucks …

and more trucks …

Photo by Robbin Myers.

There were boats …

Photo by Robbin Myers.

There were ambulances …

Photo by Dottie Wells.

There were fire trucks …

Photo by Dottie Wells.

And there were vehicles we are not quite sure how to describe!

Sunroofs took on a whole new purpose …

Windows made great seats …

Truck beds were filled …

Jeeps were jam-packed …

And cheery waves came from cabriolets …

 

The Old Lyme Fire Department pulled out all the stops (and ladders!) to celebrate the Seniors ….

Photo by Dottie Wells.

All along the route, people waved enthusiastically …

Photo by Dottie Wells.

Families congratulated their soon-to-be-graduates …

… while one little girl, full of eager anticipation, waited patiently with her mom for the parade to come into view!

Congratulations to all the soon-to be-graduates!

Old Lyme Tennis Girls Are Class S State Tennis Champions Again, Remain Undefeated for Two Seasons!

The Lyme-Old Lyme High School girls’ team are Class S state champions and stand undefeated for two seasons! Photo by A. Fenton.

MIDDLETOWN — UPDATED 6/6/ WITH COACH RAHR’S COMMENTS: The Old Lyme girls defeated Westbrook 4-3 in Saturday afternoon’s CIAC Class S championship final. The thrilling match was played at Wesleyan University in Middletown.

With this tremendous victory, Old Lyme become not only Class S state champions for the second year in a row but also remain undefeated for 43 games in succession!

Photo by Old Lyme Fire Department.

As the team returned to Old Lyme, they received a police escort down Rte. 9 and then on the final leg of their homeward journey, a veritable army of local ambulances, fire-trucks and police cars — all with sirens blaring, bells ringing and horns honking — enthusiastically greeted them (see photo above.)

Asked how she felt about the match and season coach Lauren Rahr told LymeLine exclusively by email, “It is crazy to think that last year we were able to bring the school its first girls’ tennis state championship, and this year we followed it up with another one!”

She continued, “Last year, the girls were new to the state stage and soaked in every moment of the experience. This year, you could tell it meant so much more to them. They not only understood the honor a state title holds, but they were able to properly celebrate with their team who have now become their best friends.”

Rahr added, “As I said to my family after the big day, “43-0, two undefeated seasons, two state championships, and a group of special girls that became an extension of my family. What gets better than that?””

Looking back at the season, Rahr commented, “I could see how strong and focused they were [throughout the season] while they were playing. When we got to championship week all I wanted to do was to get them to the finals because they all deserved that spotlight after how hard they had been working.”

She explained, “It is rare that you find a group of girls this special both on and off the court. They have changed my life. I hope they hold these memories with them throughout all the chapters of their lives.”

Noting, “We had a lot of challenges to overcome this season along with the pressure of the repeat from last year, but they handled it with their heads held high and sights focused on their goal,” Rahr concluded emphatically, “The title couldn’t have gone to a more deserving group of girls.”

The match was no push-over for Old Lyme with both the #1 and #3 OL singles players, respectively Abby Sicuranza and Callie Bass, losing their matches, and the OL #3 doubles pair also lost in an intense three-set match.

The #2 and #4 singles players, however, respectively Sam Tan and Elaina Morosky, won convincingly. Tan did not drop a single game winning 6-0, 6-0 and Morosky dropped only one game, winning 6-0, 6-1.

Similarly, the #2 doubles pair of Aggie and Beatrice Hunt did not lose a game in their 6-0, 6-0 victory while the #1 pair — Livie Bass and Alexis Fenton — dropped only one game to win 6-0, 6-1.

Hearty congratulations to the team and Coach Rahr!

This photo of the state champions includes their bus driver Bill Slivinski (back row, second from right), who has loyally driven the girls to most of their games and fervently supported them for many years. Photo by A. Fenton.

The full game scores from the match (with Old Lyme team members listed first) were as follows:

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Julia Farnoli 2-6, 2-6

2nd Singles: 
Sam Tan vs Gianni Salisbury: 6-0, 6-0

3rd Singles:
Callie Bass vs Megan Bache: 3-6, 3-6

4th Singles: 
Elaina Morosky vs Ava:  6-0, 6-1

1st Doubles:
Livie Bass / Alexis Fenton vs. Bree Koplas / Delany Belcourt: 6-0, 6-1

2nd Doubles:  
Aggie Hunt/ Beatrice Hunt vs. Olivia Palumbo / Jami Sacco: 6-0, 6-0

3rd Doubles:
Olivia Schaedler / Izzy Reynolds vs. Xan Zanzalari / Adriana Stranieri: 6-1, 4-6, 4-6

 

Old Lyme Tennis Girls Play Westbrook in Class S State Final This Afternoon, Go Wildcats!

From left to right, Sam Tan, #2 Elaina Morosky, and #4 Callie Bass #3 all won their singles matches against Litchfield.

OLD LYME — 6/4 UPDATE: Westbrook defeated Holy Cross 6-1 yesterday to advance to the CIAC Class S state final where they will face Old Lyme, who are both top seeds and defending champions. The match will be played today, Saturday, at Wesleyan University, starting at 3 p.m.

The top-seeded Lyme-Old Lyme Girls’ tennis team, who are the defending Class S champions, stormed into the CIAC Class S state final after defeating Litchfield 6-1 in convincing fashion on Thursday afternoon. The match was played on Old Lyme courts.

The girls will now meet Holy Cross or Westbrook in the final on Saturday at Wesleyan University. The remaining semifinal will be played Friday.

Lyme-Old Lyme HS Girls’ Tennis Coach Lauren Rahr.

Asked how she felt about the girls’ win, Coach and LOLHS Math teacher Lauren Rahr, said by email, “I am extremely proud of the girls. They go out there and play to win, but most importantly, they deserve to win.”

She added, “It is such a wonderful group of girls that are dedicated to not only their sport, but their team.”

Describing the team in more detail Rahr noted, “They put in the hard work to reach their goals.”

She concluded enthusiastically, “I never thought I would be able to say I reached the finals of the state tournament twice! (I couldn’t even do that once in my time playing high school tennis). These girls are making a name for themselves and creating memories that they will never forget.”

Results from today’s match were as follows:

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Ava Atwood 3-6, 6-7 (4)

2nd Singles: 
Sam Tan vs Anna Devaux 6-2, 6-1

3rd Singles: 
Callie Bass vs Leah Sepples 6-2, 6-1

4th Singles: 
Elaina Morosky vs Riley Southard 6-3, 6-3

Alexis Fenton and Livie Bass won their match playing as the #1 doubles team against Litchfield

1st Doubles: 
Livie Bass / Alexis Fenton vs. Emily Migliorisi / Claire Olmstead: 6-0, 6-0

Twins Beatrice Hunt (left) and Aggie Hunt won their match against Litchfield as the 2nd doubles team.

2nd Doubles:  
Aggie Hunt / Beatrice Hunt vs. Peyton Weik / Baylie Pesce: 6-0, 6-0

3rd Doubles:
Izzy Reynolds / Olivia Schaedler vs. Hope Melk / Jillian Saunders: 6-1, 6-1

 

 

Death Announced of Judith Vitali of Old Lyme, Beloved Elementary School Teacher in Old Lyme for Over 30 Years, 1995 Teacher of the Year; Celebration of Life Service June 26

OLD LYME — On Friday morning, May 13, 2022, Judith Vitali, loving wife, and mother of three children passed away at age 81. Judith was born Dec. 25, 1940, to Harold Sylvester Chick and Margaret Leahy Chick …

For over 30 years, Judith taught at Mile Creek School and Center School in Old Lyme. She received the Teacher of the Year Award in 1995, and was beloved by generations of inspired students. On May 22,1962, she married Rino Vitali, of Guilford …

Judith is survived by her husband Rino; her three sons, Sean, Kevin and Keith; two daughters-in-law, Denise Mock and Alexis Lury Vitali; two sisters, Janice Modon and Margaret Hotchkiss; four grandchildren: Ethan, Luke, Rowan and Shane; several nieces and nephews, including Elizabeth Comstock …

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 26, in the memorial garden of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Judith’s memory to the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme.

Visit this link to read the full obituary published by The Day on May 26, 2022.

It’s Prom/Summer Party Season! Let’s Work Together to Stop Teen Access to Alcohol

LYME/OLD LYME — With Prom and summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to focus awareness in Lyme and Old Lyme on underage drinking. Remember alcohol continues to be the number one substance used by youth. 

One way we can work to prevent teens from drinking is to prevent easy access to alcohol and recognizing that teen drinking is not inevitable.

The Lyme-Old Lyme 2021 Youth Survey reports that 62 percent of high school seniors do not drink alcohol regularly.

Unfortunately, 70 percent of 12th graders report that it is easy to get alcohol. Most teens who drink get alcohol without having to pay for it. They obtain it from friends (83 percent) or family members, at parties, or by taking it without permission.  

The 2021 Youth Survey shows that nearly 50 percent of students, who report drinking, take it from their parents with and without permission. Underage drinkers, who pay for alcohol, usually give money to someone else to purchase it for them.

Here’s what you can do to reduce access to alcohol:

  • At home, make sure teens can’t access alcohol without your knowledge. Unmonitored alcohol, including alcohol stored in a cabinet, refrigerator, basement or garage, can be a temptation. When in doubt, lock it up.
  • Liquor stickers can be a helpful tool and are available at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau.
  • Exercise your influence. Data shows that teens continue to care what their parents think, even while they are in high school and college – 63 percent of students choose not to drink because they feel their parents would disapprove. Let your teen know that you don’t want them to drink and that most teens, in fact, don’t drink.

  • Speak up, because silence can be misinterpreted. It may have happened already. A neighbor announces she is hosting a teen party, but you shouldn’t worry — she’s taking the car keys from every kid who comes in. Or a colleague says he’s serving alcohol to his high school son’s friends so they can “learn to drink responsibly.”
  • If you hear about a situation, say that you don’t want other people serving alcohol to your teen or condoning teen drinking. Let your friends, neighbors, and family members know that the minimum drinking age is a policy that protects teens, and that you don’t want your teen to drink.
  • Take action before a situation arises. Start talking to the parents of your child’s friends early — as early as 6th grade. Tell them about the risks of teen drinking and let them know that you don’t want anyone to allow your teen to drink alcohol.
  • Talk to adults, who host teen parties. Let them know that the overwhelming majority of parents support the legal drinking age and agree that it is not okay to serve alcohol to someone else’s teen — and not okay to turn a blind eye to teen alcohol consumption.
  • Let local law enforcement know that you encourage active policing of noisy teen parties that may signal alcohol use.
  • Tell local alcohol retailers that you want them to check ID’s before selling alcohol. Limiting alcohol sales to legal purchasers is an important goal and well worth the time it takes.
  • Consider joining the Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition.

For more information on how to help your teen make healthy choices surrounding drugs or alcohol, visit www.lysb.org/prevention or contact Alli Behnke, Prevention Coordinator, abehnke@lysb.org

Alli Behnke

About the Author: Alli Behnke, MSW, MA is the Prevention Coordinator at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau. She has been a Social Worker for 20 years working in the fields of prevention, therapy, youth leadership, and health coaching. Alli believes strongly in providing accurate information, education, and tools for success when empowering the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition and REACH Youth Coalition to work together on strengths-based campaigns. The Coalitions address substance abuse and other risky behaviors challenging our youth and families. Contact her at abehnke@lysb.org or visit  www.lysb.org to become involved in this important community work.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School, Middle School Announce Q3 Honor Rolls   

Lyme-Old Lyme High School
Honor Roll
2021-22 Quarter 3

HIGH HONORS
Grade 12:
Emily Almada, Hannah Britt, John Caulkins, Ryan Clark, John Conley, Elise DeBernardo, Elizabeth Duddy, Eleanor Dushin, Lauren Enright, Shawn Grenier, Austin Halsey, Lillian Herrera, Daniel Hoblin, Fiona Hufford, Julia Johnston, Nevin Joshy, Kian Kardestuncer, Quinn Kegley, Cora Kern, Robyn King, Felse Kyle, William Larson, Reese Maguire, Stephanie Mauro, Elle Myers, Emily Nickerson, Bella Orlando, Isabel Prentice, Olivia Schaedler, McLean Signora, Abby Speckhals, Drew St.Louis, Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum, Victoria Stout, Madison Thompson, Olivia Turtoro, John Videll, Evan Visgilio, Aidan Ward, Melanie Warren, Ellie Wells, Jenna Woods, Avery Wyman, Jerry Zhang

Grade 11:
William Barry, Callie Bass, Livie Bass, Jordan Beebe, Gillian Bradley, Jamie Bucior, John Buckley, Hayley Cann, Liam Celic, William Danes, Anna Davis, Jacob Derynioski, John Eichholz, Zachary Eichholz, Arber Hoxha, Owen Ingersoll-Bonsack, Charlotte Judge, Jair LataYanza, Ford Macadam, Marielle Mather, Kennedy McCormick, Madeleine Morgado, Alexander Olsen, Alain Pecher-Kohout, Kelsey Pryor, Rhyleigh Russell, Eli Ryan, Stefan Ryer, Anders Silberberg, Alyssa Spooner, Mary Surprenant, Tova Toriello, Gesami Vazquez, Kaitlyn Ward, Harry Whitten

Grade 10:
Alexis Antonellis, Beatrice Barnett, Emma Bayor, Oliver Berry, Drew Brackley, Natalie Buckley, Sophia Cheung, William Coppola, Ava Cummins, Ella Curtiss-Reardon, Eric Dagher, Sydney Doboe, Amelia Gage, Marcia Geronimo, Calla Gilson, Sydney Goulding, Alexis Grasdock, Justin Green, Douglas Griswold, Katherine Gryk, Abby Hale, Ella Halsey, Agatha Hunt, Beatrice Hunt, Sabina Jungkeit, Grady Lacourciere, Katherine Mullaney, Delaney Nelson, Ronald Olin, Grace Phaneuf, Jack Porter, Hannah Thomas, Keara Ward, Louisa Warlitz, Summer Wollack, Duohui Yan, Grace Zembruski

Grade 9:
Quinn Arico, Molly Boardman, Mark Burnham, Mason Bussmann, Chase Calderon, Andrew Clougherty, Tabitha Colwell, Chloe Datum, Andrea DeBernardo, Zoe Eastman-Grossel, Caeli Edmed, Anna Eichholz, Grace Ferman, Manu Geronimo, Ava Gilbert, Kaela Hoss, Rowan Hovey, Shyla Jones, Simon Karpinski, Aven Kellert, Olivia Kelly, Ella Kiem, Peter Kuhn, Ada LaConti, Elise Leonardo, Andrew Liu, Abigail O’Brien, Kanon Oharu, Sophie Pennie, Mutia Quarshie, Ysabel Rodriguez, Ryan Shapiro, Kelly Sheehan, Paula DeSilva, Drea Simler, Madeline Supersano, Charlotte Tinniswood, Nicholas Turtoro, Kathleen Walsh, Gabriella Ziegler

HONORS
Grade 12:
John Almy, Grace Arnold, Nihad Bicic, Mackenzie Bussolotti, Evan Clark, Caroline Crolius, Michael DeGaetano, Liam Fallon, Victoria Gage, Aiden Goiangos, Meyer Goldberg, Ethan Goss, Liam Grethel, Nicolette Hallahan, Jackson Harris, Andrew Hedberg, Madison Hubbard, Zoe Jensen, Abigail Manthous, Grace McAdams, Jacob Ritchie, Calvin Scheiber, Abigail Sicuranza, Daniel Stack, Alexandra Tinniswood

Grade 11:
Whitney Barbour, Ava Brinkerhoff, Gretchen Burgess, Sarah Burnham, Jennifer Cajamarca, Luke Celic, Alexander Chrysoulakis, Grace Colwell, Nicholas Cox, Alexis Fenton, Matthew Grammatico, Willa Hoerauf, Aidan Kerrigan, Phoebe Lampos, Jonah Lathrop, Sophia Marinelli, Madalyn McCulloch, Joseph Montazella, Cooper Munson, Olivia Powers, Jaden Reyes, Izzadora Reynolds, Benjamin Roth, Jenna Schauder, Dylan Sheehan, Ned Smith, Samantha Tan

Grade 10:
Peighton Andrews, Alis Bicic, Elliot Bjornberg, Jackson Bullock, Macklin Cushman, Lucas DaSilva, Eva D’Onofrio, Mohamad Hamou, Jordan Hanes, Sedona Holland, John Holzworth, Griffin McGlinchey, Matthew Miller, Elaina Morosky, Isabelle O’Connor, Kayla O’Leary, Luisa Raby, Cailin Ruhling, Noah Sanford, Haley Shaw, Madeleine Soriano, Mason Wells, Tyler Wells

Grade 9:
Christopher Anderson, Micah Bass, Hannah Bonilla, Benedict Frazier, Hoshena Gemme, Abigail Griffith, Kyle Ingersoll-Bonsack, Hannah Johnston, Evan LeQuire, Colette Marchant, Nathan Morgan, Filip Pecher-Kohout

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School
Honor Roll
2021-22 Quarter 3

HIGH HONORS
Grade 8:
Sienna Bari, Ilona Binch, Zoe Brunza, Alec Butzer, Trevor Buydos, Makayla Calderon, Tyler Cann, Annabelle Coppola, Colman Curtiss-Reardon, Christopher Dagher, James Dahlke, Sophia D’Angelo, Rose Dimmock, William Donnelly, Alexa Donovan, Elena Gerardo, Chase Gilbert, Alexander Glaras, Scarlette Graybill, Teagan Iglesias, Christopher Kachur, Thomas Kelly, Katherine King, Jade Lawton, Jayden Livesey, Emily Looney, Ian Maeby, Carter McGlinchey, Ryan Miller, Madeline Murphy, Nina Nichols, Ryan Olsen, Ryan Ortoleva, Isabella Presti, Taylor Quintin, Jenna Salpietro, Luca Signora, Emma Singleton, Addison Spooner, Louis St., Pierre St., Andrew Taylor, Meredith Thompson, Margaret Thuma, Madeleine Trepanier, John Turick, Eve Videll, Elisabeth Viera, Warren Volles, Oliver Wyman, Stella Young, Carl Zapatka

Grade  7:
Lucia Arico, Addison Arndt, Zak Avelange, Mia Bonatti, Ceciley Buckley, Marla Bulas, Brooke Burgess, William Burgess, Anna Bussmann, Brennan Butzer, Lillian Calabrese, Chase Catalano, Isaac Chartier, Sophia D’Amico, Amirah D’Lizarraga, Elliot Dunn-Sims, Samson Edmed, Lauren Fulara, Taiyo Gemme, Angeline Gencarella, Antonio Gencarella, Samuel Gilbert, Gavin Goulis, Harrison Goulis, Skylar Graybill, Tessa Grethel, Owen Holth, Marley Iaia, Marley Igersheimer, Josephine Kiem, Alexa Legein, Olivia Lovendale, Kaylee McCarthy, Matilda Miller, John Morosky, Emelia Munster, Grace Osborne, Eva Oulahan-Smith, Mia Palmer, Arthur Riccio, Ainsley Rinoski, Cameron Russell, Allegra Schaedler, Owen Shapiro, Kevork Shegirian, Nicholas Sokolowski, Madeline Stiles, Carli Teixeira, Magdalena Tooker, Ethan Trepanier, Kaylyn Vernon, Ivy Wilson, Brody Ziolkovski

Grade 6:
Kaitlyn Ackerman, Lillian Acosta, Lauren Belval, Scarlett Blatter, Vivian Boller, Lana Brunza, Naomi Cameron, Gabrielle Clark, John Comstock, Colin Discordia, Albert Enman, Katharine Ferman, Jonah Filardi, Avery Goiangos, Frederick Goss, Elaina Graves, Gavin Gray, Sawyer Graybill, Alistair Hampton-Dowson, Colleen Harrington, Jordyn Harris, Morgan Harris, Ryan Hill, Sophia Huang, Fiona Judge, Jillian Kleefeld, Kaedyn Koproski, Treyton LaConti, Holden Leonardo, Graham Macadam, Benjamin Mattox, Liam McCormick, Rowan McCormick, Charles McEwen, Caitlyn McHugh, William McKeever, Clarissa Mock, Addyson Morosky, Grace Morrissette, Marielle Munster, Theodore Neary, Mila Pacelli, Remi Patz, Jonah Scheckwitz, Audrey Sheehan, Avery Spooner, Charlotte Thuma, Delilah Tooker, Jonathan Toriello, Renee Viera, Ashlynn Ward, Avery Wesch, Charles Zapatka, Avery Zbierski, Ella Ziolkovski

HONORS
Grade 8:
Charlotte Antonino, Julia Clark, Jack Conroy, Benjamin Goulding, Elizaveta Gregoire, Harrison Kleefeld, William Landon, Maya LeQuire, Sebastian Lopez-Bravo, Elise Marchant, Samuel Masanz, Sybil Neary, Quenten Patz, Marleigh Piacenza, Sophia Shaposhnikova, Tanner Snurkowski, Lucian Tracano, Connor Vautrain, Katherine Zhang

Grade 7:
Collin Anderson, Phineas Barrett, Zachary Belval, Morgan Buerger, Aidan Carpentino, Brady Donovan, Kaedin Gerster, Zachariah Guidi, Charles Halsey, Lauren Herrera, Curtiss Johnson, Elsa Jungkeit, Allisondra Krol, Callahan Lacourciere, Maddux Murphy, Kaitlyn Pannier, Alexandria Sanford, Bowen Turick

Grade 6:
Anna Bjornberg, Noah Brant, Ashlynn Edwards, Alistair Grenier, Warner Grenier, Aiden Guidi, Gift Mahwayi, David McAdams, Ava Novak, Grayson Standish, Judah Waldo,

Old Lyme Girls’ Tennis Defeats Cromwell 7-0, Clinch Shoreline Conference Title

The Lyme-Old Lyme (left) and Cromwell High School teams listen to the ‘team talk’ prior to the start of yesterday’s match. Old Lyme went on to win the match 7-0 and also secured the Shoreline Conference title. Photo by A. Fenton.

OLD LYME — Playing on their home courts yesterday, the Old Lyme Girls’ Tennis team continued their extraordinary, unbeaten season with a 7-0 victory over Cromwell, confirming the girls as Shoreline Conference 2022 winners.

Read our recent article about Coach Lauren Rahr and her team at this link.

The full results were (Old Lyme girls in blue):

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Kelly McTeague 6-2, 6-3

2nd Singles: 
Callie Bass vs Caroline Rogozinski 6-0, 6-0

3rd Singles: 
Elaina Morosky vs Emily Green 6-0, 6-2

4th Singles: 
Olivia Schaedler vs Amina Beskovic 6-2, 6-1

1st Doubles: 
Livie Bass / Alexis Fenton 6-1, 6-0
Gabriella Voccio / Amira Abdelghany

2nd Doubles:
Aggie Hunt/ Beatrice Hunt 6-0, 6-0
Julia Baymuradova / Olivia Lusitani

3rd Doubles:
Fiona Hufford / Izzy Reynolds 6-1, 6-0
Julia Drew / Aisling Gollareny

Lyme-Old Lyme Tennis Girls Remain Unbeaten, “They are Determined Players … and it Shows” (Coach Rahr)

The undefeated Lyme-Old Lyme High School team gathers for a celebratory photo. All photos by A. Fenton.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) girls’ tennis team is enjoying a truly remarkable season. Look at the scoresheets below and you will see that the girls not only remain undefeated, but also have hardly dropped an individual match this season.

Abby Sicuranza demonstrates the strength of her serve in this game against Morgan. Sicuranza is the Wildcats’ #1 singles player.

Coach Lauren Rahr admits with complete honesty that this situation is something, “I don’t think I have fully wrapped my head around.”

Rahr, who is a math teacher at LOLHS, recalls that “Last year was truly a dream season with all we accomplished and how it all flowed together so well,” but notes, “This year has presented different challenges.”

Asked how she would summarize the team’s performance to date this season, Rahr responded, “From last season to this season, I have seen a lot of growth and maturity from all of my players.”

Elaina Morosky is having a terrific season regularly playing in the #3 or #4 singles spot.

She said they had clearly put in a great deal of time in the off-season to continue improving their games, and as a result, “… came into this season with specific goals in mind that they want to accomplish both as individuals and as a team.”

Lyme-Old Lyme High School Girl’s Tennis Coach Lauren Rahr celebrates her team’s continuing success in this photo with her father, Dave Rahr, who serves as the team’s Junior Varsity Coach. Photo submitted.

She added, “Every match we go out and play, they continue to amaze me. There are always things we can continue to improve upon, but overall, they are determined players this year and it shows, not only in how they carry themselves but also in how they play each point.”

The #3 doubles partnership of senior Fiona Hufford and junior Izadora Reynolds has played some memorable games.

Expanding on how she feels when she is watching a match, Rahr said she finds herself thinking, “Wow, I am so lucky to have a team that is not only this strong, but this passionate about what they do.” She explained that this year she feels  they are trusting themselves more, noting, “You can see them playing smart tennis on the court, while also taking the risk of applying new skills and strategies we have talked about.”

Sam Tan, who regularly plays in the #2 singles spot, celebrates after winning her game at Waterford following a third set tie-breaker.

Rahr says Old Lyme’s toughest opponent so far this season has been Westbrook since, going into it, the girls knew they were going to be facing strong competition, which meant they were eagerly anticipating the match. The expectation was fulfilled with three out of the seven matches going to three sets, with, in Rahr’s words, “Each of them a battle. You could feel the energy on the sidelines just watching all of the matches finish.”

From left to right, Lyme-Old Lyme 2nd doubles sophomore Aggie Hunt, 1st doubles Junior Livie Bass,  1st doubles Junior Alexis Fenton, and 2nd doubles Sophomore Beatrice Hunt celebrate their respective wins over Waterford.

Recalling one of her favorite memories of the season was during the Westbrook match when the whole team was sitting at the fence watching the Old Lyme #3 finish her third set. Then, “As soon as she was done, they all sprinted down to the #3 doubles with their blankets and snack bags just in time for them to hit a volley winner to end the match.”

Callie Bass always comes through with a strong game.

Rahr said, “It was nice to see them all support each other. It is moments like these that not only bring a team together, but remind everyone why they chose to play tennis.” She explained, “Playing better competition brings out the best in teams, and I was happy to see the girls step up to the challenge so early on in the season.”

Elaina Morosky (at front in photo) has played consistently well throughout the season.

Questioned as to the factors to which she credited the team’s amazing success, Rahr replied, “This is a tough question as I have thought about this often recently. There have been so many factors that have come together to contribute to our team’s success: the new courts, the passion of the girls, the support of families…just to name a few.”

The Lyme-Old Lyme #1 doubles team of juniors Alexis Fenton (right) and Livie Bass handily defeated their Morgan opponents.

She continued, “Many people have asked me, “Is it that you are a good coach or is it that they are just good players?” In her always humble fashion, she commented, “I like to think it is a little of both. We both work together to bring out the best in each other, and that has allowed us to reach our goals and create a team chemistry that I will truly never forget.”

The Waterford and Old Lyme coaches review the rules prior to the match against Waterford. The Old Lyme girls stand to the left and the Waterford team to the right.

Reviewing the season as a whole, Rahr concluded on an upbeat note, “Another thing I think that is really important is that we take each match as a new opportunity to play the sport we love.”

Here are the results of the most recent games with the LOL players indicated in blue.

Tuesday, May 3
Old Lyme Defeats Coginchaug
6-1 

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Piper Remillard 2-6, 1-6

2nd Singles: 
Callie Bass vs Estella Perel 6-0, 6-0

3rd Singles: 
Elaina Morosky vs Maggie Ross 6-1, 6-1

4th Singles: 
Olivia Schaedler vs Grace Hinsch 6-2, 6-1

1st Doubles: 
Livie Bass / Alexis Fenton
Nora O’Connell / Karenna Patel 6-0, 6-0

2nd Doubles:  
Aggie Hunt/ Beatrice Hunt
Monica Garbacz / Sawyer Stone 6-0, 6-0

3rd Doubles:
Fiona Hufford / Izzy Reynolds
Diya Patel / Taylor Cooney 6-0, 6-0

Saturday, April 30
Old Lyme Defeats Waterford
6-1

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Sarah Hage 2-6, 1-6

2nd Singles:
Sam Tan vs Autumn Brothers 4-6, 6-2, tiebreak for 3rd 12-10

3rd Singles: 
Callie Bass vs Michelle Liu 6-0, 6-1

4th Singles: 
Elaina Morosky vs Ava Tinnerello 6-3, 6-1

1st Doubles: 
Livie Bass / Alexis Fenton 6-0, 6-1
Maple Siu / Hazel Siu

2nd Doubles:  
Aggie Hunt / Beatrice Hunt 6-1, 6-0
Joyce McK / Lillian Steinhouse

3rd Doubles:
Fiona Hufford / Izzy Reynolds 3-6, 6-0
Maria Molina / Bre Kilcolmons tiebreaker for 3rd 13-11

Wednesday, April 27:
Old Lyme Defeats Morgan 7-0

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Abbie Vitola 6-1, 6-0

2nd Singles:
Sam Tan vs Molly Vitola 6-0, 6-0

3rd Singles:
Callie Bass vs Ana Colebank 6-0, 6-1

4th Singles:
Elaina Morosky vs Riley Schmidt 6-0, 6-0

1st Doubles:
Livie Bass / Alexis Fenton 6-1, 6-0
Kyra Savage / Maggie O’Donnell

2nd Doubles:
Aggie Hunt / Beatrice Hunt 6-1, 6-4
Ava Johnson / Ainsley Corgan

3rd Doubles:
Fiona Hufford / Izzy Reynolds 6-3, 6-3
Sara Morrissey / Gavin Gersz

Monday, April 25:
Old Lyme Defeats H-K 7-0

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Elanna Tousignant 6-0, 6-0

2nd Singles: 
Sam Tan vs Kami Narducci 6-0, 6-0

3rd Singles: 
Callie Bass vs Brenna Lonergan 6-0, 6-0

4th Singles: 
Elaina Morosky vs Jenna LeMontagne 6-0, 6-0

1st Doubles: 
Livie Bass / Fiona Hufford 6-0, 6-0
Adrianne Wolf / Lauren Macy

2nd Doubles:  
Olivia Schaedler / Eva D’Onofrio 6-1, 6-0
Maddie Gordon / Devon Haase

3rd Doubles:
Old Lyme wins by forfeit

Friday, April 22:
Old Lyme Defeats Portland 7-0

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Mia Lapinski 6-0, 6-0

2nd Singles: 
Sam Tan vs Nat Przes 6-0, 6-0

3rd Singles: 
Callie Bass vs Allison Scott 6-2, 6-3

4th Singles: 
Olivia Schaedler vs Morganne Plneda 6-0, 6-0

1st Doubles: 
Livie Bass / Fiona Hufford
Amella Hair / Isa McLelland 6-3, 6-0

2nd Doubles:  
Aggie Hunt/ Beatrice Hunt
Maddy Varano / Emily Dering 6-0, 6-1

3rd Doubles:
Elaina Morosky / Natalie Buckley
Joda Cohen / Anna Stone 6-0, 6-0

Monday, April 18
Old Lyme Defeats East Hampton 7-0

1st Singles:
Abby Sicuranza vs Liz MacDonald 6-0, 6-0

2nd Singles: 
Sam Tan vs Eshani Karkun 6-1, 6-2

3rd Singles: 
Elaina Morosky vs Charlotte Minnick 6-0, 6-0

4th Singles: 
Callie Bass vs forfeit *forfeit* 

1st Doubles: 
Livie Bass / Fiona Hufford
Emma Giovanelli / Jen Trip 6-1, 6-0

2nd Doubles:  
Aggie Hunt/ Beatrice Hunt
Melanie Hurt / Ginneg Decker 6-0, 6-0

3rd Doubles:
Olivia Schaedler / Karissa Huang
Addi Howard / Baylee Olzacki 6-0, 6-0

PARJE Celebrates Unveiling of New ‘Welcome’ Mural at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold stands with the mural’s lead artist Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal after the mural had been officially unveiled on Wednesday at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School. All photos by K. Monson except where indicated.

OLD LYME — UPDATED WITH FULL STORY: Around 40 members of the community along with several Old Lyme and Lyme-Old Lyme Schools dignitaries joined some 200 Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students and faculty on Wednesday to celebrate the unveiling of a new Welcome mural, which had been sponsored by Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE) and created in the school.

The completed mural shows students from many nations holding hands to cross a bridge.

The mural is part of the Sister Murals Project sponsored by Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE), which was officially launched March 1, 2021. PARJE utilizes the broad appeal of art and education to confront racial injustice.

One mural has already been unveiled in Norwich and now murals are being worked on concurrently in Old Lyme and New London. Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal, who is an alumna of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, is the lead artist of the new Welcome mural in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS.)

In addition to her role as lead artist, Oyola-Blumenthal worked with school faculty to develop student workshops, which coordinated with the project.

Oyola-Blumenthal and her counterpart, Marvin Espy, in New London were selected from a field of nearly 20 applicants. In her application, Oyola-Blumenthal had described art as, “a neutral vessel,” contending that [it], “Can bring forth conversations that can be uncomfortable and promote opportunities to open dialogue on racial justice and education.”

Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal, lead artist for the ‘Welcome’ mural, addresses the audience at Wednesday’s ceremony in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School to celebrate the unveiling of the mural. Photo by S. Hayes.

Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Ian Neviaser opened the ceremony and then a number of speeches were made including one by Kimberly Monson, a professional artist, who studied at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, and subsequently became one of its faculty. She, in fact, had taught lead artist Oyola-Blumenthal when the latter was a student at the same college.

Monson noted, “An artistic legacy is passed from instructor to student and is a direct line to the artists and instructors before them. Therefore, with her training, Jas’s [Jasmine’s] pedigree can be traced back to artistic behemoths such as Saint Gaudens and Gerome.”

Monson then commented on Oyola-Blumenthal’s own legacy and its relevance to the project, saying, “Jas also has a legacy in her heritage. She holds within her … the hopes and dreams of embracing diversity, which, in addition to her talent, give her an insightful perspective to this Mural project … [She carries] the legacy, of not only the Artists housed and trained here, but also [in her role] as the voice of collaboration with our kids.”

Monson spoke warmly of Oyola-Blumenthal’s skills saying, “Jas’s sense of design was always powerful. She knows how to arrange a picture to tell a story and she has a strong command of color and pattern that celebrates her contagious optimism,” emphasizing, “All of this shows itself beautifully on the Mural painted in your hall.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students hard at work on the mural.

Three LOLMS eighth grade students read their poems related to the Witness Stones project in Old Lyme, in which houses where enslaved people were kept in town have been identified by engraved stones placed in front of them. The students were Maggie Thuma, Thomas Kelly and Anne-Marie Hinkley.

Thelma Halloran, who is the LOLMS art teacher also spoke during the ceremony. She had collaborated with Oyola-Blumenthal on many parts of the mural project. She explained how she had become involved with, “a new group in Old Lyme created by the Rev. David W. Good, Minister Emeritus of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.”

This group, which became PARJE, was created more than a year ago in response to tragic events in the news like the death of George Floyd. Halloran said, “David wanted to remind everyone in Old Lyme that the town has a history of welcoming people – all kinds of people.”

She then listed some of those who had been welcomed into the town mentioning four refugee families from Laos, a refugee family from Rwanda, and another from Syria. She also recalled a family from the Congo, who lived in a refugee house bought by the Congregational church and families from Pakistan, Guatemala, Burma, and South Africa. In addition, she mentioned a family, whose home was destroyed by a hurricane in Puerto Rico, who also found a home in Old Lyme.  

No space was left unpainted as the mural takes form.

Halloran noted, “This history of hospitality to all who come to Old Lyme has evolved through time. It has not always been perfect. This is why there is a continued effort to strive to be a better community, including in our schools.”

She continued, “Let the message of this mural continue to be a reminder of the values we share in the town of Old Lyme, and as a community in our schools. Make the message of this mural come to life in your words and your actions with everyone you encounter, not just student to student, not just student to teacher, and not just the new faces you see.”

Urging the students to, “continue to show your kindness” to everyone in school including such people as custodians, security guards, secretaries, and paraprofessionals, she then told them also to, “Show your kindness to the student, who looks like you, but doesn’t think like you.” explaining firmly, “This is what we mean when we say welcome.” 

The intensity given to the project is clear on the faces of the students.

Halloran concluded by quoting the words of the 2021 US Presidential Inauguration poet Amanda Gorman, who said evocatively,
“The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to see the video NBC TV posted about the event.

Old Lyme’s ‘Welcome’ Mural to be ‘Revealed’ to the Community at LOL Middle School, Today at 1:30pm; All Welcome


OLD LYME —
On Wednesday, April 27, the newly-created ‘Welcome’ mural at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS) will be revealed to the community at a ceremony in the school’s auditorium beginning at 1:30 p.m. and lasting around 30 minutes.

All are welcome to attend the ceremony and then view the mural after its official ‘reveal.’ Members of the public attending the ceremony are requested to check-in at the LOLMS office to obtain a ‘Visitor’ sticker prior to going to the auditorium.

The mural is part of the Sister Murals Project sponsored by Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE), which was officially launched March 1, 2021. The primary mission of PARJE is to utilize the broad appeal of art and education to confront racial injustice.

One mural has already been unveiled in Norwich and now murals are being worked on concurrently in Old Lyme and New London.

Lead artist for the Old Lyme Sister Mural is Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal.

The lead artists for the Old Lyme mural is Jasmine Oyola-Blumenthal, who is an alumna of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts

The Old Lyme Sister Mural is being installed inside Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, adjacent to the gymnasium.

In addition to her role as lead artist, Oyola-Blumenthal has worked with school faculty to develop student workshops, which coordinate with the project.

Oyola-Blumenthal and her counterpart, Marvin Espy, in New London were selected from a field of nearly 20 applicants.

In her application, Oyola-Blumenthal referred to the ability of art to inspire people to talk to one another, commenting, “Art is a neutral vessel that can bring forth conversations that can be uncomfortable and promote opportunities to open dialogue on racial justice and education.”

 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Name Allison Hine as New Principal of Lyme School

The new principal of Lyme Consolidated School is Allison Hine.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Schools is pleased to announce that Allison Hine has been named principal of Lyme Consolidated School and will begin her position July 1, 2022.

Hine, a resident of Old Lyme, is currently the principal of Brownstone Intermediate School in Portland, Conn. She replaces Jim Cavalieri, who is retiring after 44 years in education, 20 of those as principal of Lyme Consolidated School.

Hine has more than 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher and administrator. In addition to her work at Brownstone Intermediate School, she has served as the assistant principal and as social studies curriculum coordinator for the Stonington (CT) Public Schools.

She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher for the Old Saybrook Schools.

Hine has previously served on the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Board of Education and has been an active volunteer with Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau and numerous other community organizations.

“We are pleased to have Mrs. Hine join us in her new role as Principal of Lyme Consolidated School. Mrs. Hine’s dedication and passion for our schools stood out during the interview process. Her extensive elementary school experience will allow her to continue to support the strong programming at Lyme School,” commented Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

The selection process began in February and yielded more than 40 applicants. A selection committee comprised of over 25 people conducted several rounds of interviews as well as a site visit.

A community forum and survey were also conducted as part of the selection process. Teachers, staff members, parents, and community members were asked to rank the characteristics of a leader they deemed most important, as well as provide responses to a series of questions.

Lyme-Old Lyme MS Principal Ambruso Named CT Middle School Principal of the Year

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Principal Mark Ambruso has been named Connecticut’s MS Principal of the Year.

OLD LYME — Mark Ambruso, principal of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, has been named the 2022 Connecticut Middle School Principal of the Year.

Nominated by numerous colleagues, Ambruso is known for his leadership and authenticity. He is credited for fostering a positive, safe and fun middle school environment for all students.

Mark Ambruso

“Mark develops strong relationships with every student in our building,” says Renee Molnar, a guidance counselor at the school. “He goes out of his way to get to know something about everyone he meets. He makes you feel welcome and cared for and you leave any interaction with him feeling energized and motivated.”

Sponsored annually by the Connecticut Association of Schools and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the recognition is designed to spotlight the achievements of individual school leaders and at the same time increase public awareness of the critical role that principals play in the education of our youth.

The program honors those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership, a passion for educational excellence, a commitment to their students and staff, and service to their communities.

Ambruso joined Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School in July of 2017 from Windham Technical High School where he was principal. Ambruso previously served as the principal, and before that the assistant principal, at Bacon Academy and as a science teacher and coach at Norwich Free Academy.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award. This would not be possible without the collective commitment and exemplary efforts of my colleague and Assistant Principal, Noah Ventola, and Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School’s faculty and staff.  Most importantly, I’d like to thank our wonderful families and amazing students.

The success of our middle school and district is a testament to the support and direction of our Superintendent, Central Office, and Board of Education. I’d like to also thank my wife and children for supporting me and sharing in my career.”

Editor’s Note: We send hearty congratulations to Mark on gaining this well-deserved honor.

Gillette Castle Sign Honoring William Gillette Restored by Lyme-Old Lyme HS Alumna Schillawski

Former Old Lyme resident Lauren Schillawski confirms that the sign she crafted is hung correctly with the assistance of board member George Mattern (center) and park supervisor John “Jack” Hine (right.) Schillawski created the sign as an advanced woodworking project when she was a student at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.  The post and armature were installed by the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park.

EAST HADDAM, Conn. – Several years of planning by supporters of Gillette Castle State Park — in combination with a young woman’s talents — have restored a much-missed piece of park nostalgia.

It is a tall wooden post sporting a large sign paying homage to actor William Gillette, who is shown in silhouette in a deerstalker cap, the emblem of his most famous theatrical role — Sherlock Holmes. Beneath Gillette’s name are the years of his lifetime, 1853-1937. 

The sign was installed recently near Gillette’s century-old fieldstone mansion by a team of volunteers overseen by park supervisor John “Jack” Hine and Friends of Gillette Castle State Park Board Member George Mattern of Baltic, Conn. 

The sign replaces one that stood for many years along the path leading visitors to Gillette’s home, and had been a favored spot for photographers. However, that sign fell victim to structural decay and accident, even collapsing at one point.

“The sign’s removal several years ago left a void that’s now filled because of the generous help of talented volunteers,” said Lynn Wilkinson, president of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park. “The process took time, because it was clear that long-term structural integrity and ease of repair were absolutely crucial.”

An initial effort to replace the sign about seven years ago prompted instructors at Lyme-Old Lyme High School to work with shop students on the project. One of those students was Lauren Schillawski, then an 11th-grade student of advanced woodworking.

Using images of the earlier sign as a template, Schillawski worked with the school’s computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to design and eventually construct a replica of the original hard-carved sign. 

Now a resident of Skaneateles, N.Y., working in dairy management, Schillawski credited her shop instructors — Jonathan Goss and William Derry — for their trust in approaching her with the project, and for guiding her through the difficult construction process. 

“My main interest in the project was the challenge,” she said. “Living in town, I was already familiar with Gillette’s Castle and grounds. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to make a sign that everyone could enjoy that would be around for many years.”

The armature to support the sign was designed more recently by George Mattern and approved by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in late 2021. That set the stage for the sign’s base to be installed and the supporting post erected earlier this year. 

“It’s a beautiful sign and we’re all thrilled to see this effort finally come to fruition,” said Wilkinson.

She continued, “Our deepest thanks go to Lauren for her design work, to George Mattern for his persistent support and to all of the hard-working volunteers who made themselves available — even during the winter — to make certain that this project was completed.”

The late Connecticut stage actor’s century-old mansion is nestled atop the “Seventh Sister” hill in the towns of East Haddam and Lyme along the Connecticut River. 

The structure is scheduled to open to the public on Memorial Day weekend.

In the meantime, the park at 67 River Road in East Haddam remains open and visitors may stroll around the grounds during regular hours, which are from 8 a.m. until sunset daily year-round. Trail maps and videos of the estate may be found on the Friends website at www.gillettecastlefriends.org.

Gillette was the first actor to become internationally-famous for his performances as Sherlock Holmes. The Hartford native died in 1937 after a long theatrical career and the state eventually took over ownership of his home and surrounding estate. 

Those interested in becoming a Friends member may sign up online or download a mail-in application form at www.gillettecastlefriends.org/joinsupport, or direct their questions to info@gillettecastlefriends.org or (860) 222-7850. 

The organization’s mission includes the preservation, restoration and conservation of the historic and unique structure and its scenic grounds.

The all-volunteer, nonprofit group works in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Memberships help to finance park and structural improvements while preserving the estate and Gillette’s legacy.

Lyme-Old Lyme Students Present Findings from Community Survey at Forum

These Lyme-Old Lyme students led the 2022 Community Forum, which presented the findings of the 2021 Community Survey.

LYME/OLD LYME — On March 29, results from the 2021 Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB)/Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition (LOLPC) Youth Survey were discussed at a Community Forum at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

This survey was conducted in December 2021 with 662 students in 6th through 12th grade reporting on behaviors and trends related to alcohol, marijuana, vaping, other substances, and mental health.

Eight Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) High School students participated in a youth panel to offer parents and other community members an opportunity to learn directly from them what it is like to be a teenager in Lyme-Old Lyme.

Highlights from their well-spoken, direct dialogue with the audience included kids growing up much too fast in a time of easy access, reduced perception of harm of substances, perfectionism, being over-scheduled, and being inundated with social media platforms from a very young age.

The Youth Survey reported that alcohol is still the number one substance used by LOL students with average age of first use being reported at 14.0 years old. Lifetime and recent use trends of alcohol have reduced since 2019, but national trends advise that we should understand that a “COVID Effect” might be in play resulting from isolation and lock-down.

An alarming statistic shows that the number of students, who think drinking every day is harmful, decreased from 50.9 to 27.7 percent in just two years. Similar numbers were reported for binge drinking (five or more drinks at a time) and using marijuana one to two times per week. 

The panel of students offered some insight for this drop in perceived harm. 

One reason they provided is that during isolation kids turned to their phones and social media for entertainment and communication. They explained that Snap Chat, TikTok, and Instagram normalize drinking and drug use, and kids don’t actually realize the amount of danger they can be put in with substance use. 

Social media also supports a climate for bullying, social influencing, negative mental health and self-image. The Youth Panel reported feeling that kids aren’t ready for today’s social media in Middle School or younger. Panel members encouraged parents to educate themselves and think about their own choices for their young children when it comes to phones and social media.

Survey data revealed that the mental health of our youth has followed national trends and reduced over the past two years. 

Of the students surveyed, 70 percent reported feeling stressed, 60 percent reported feeling anxious, 28% reported feeling so sad over the past two weeks that it limited daily activity, and 21 percent reported thinking about suicide. The Youth Panel agreed with these numbers and strongly encouraged audience members to understand the challenges of growing up as a teenager right now.  

Teens are inundated with pressures, intense schedules, social media influences, and the connection with drugs and alcohol plays a definite role. The survey data shows that youth, who reported marijuana use, identify coping with stress and other challenges as a primary reason they use. 

The survey also showed that only 40-60 percent of students (grade-dependent) feel that their families have clear rules around alcohol and drugs. This is an important statistic because the October LOLPC Community Survey showed that 100% of participating parents reported clear rules around alcohol. 

This is an opportunity for parents to recognize the importance of early, consistent, and on-going conversations around drugs and alcohol. The Survey and Youth Panel identify parents as role models with parental disappointment being one of the main reasons kids choose not to drink or use drugs.

The panel reported that kids are watching their parents and how they deal with stress, cope with life around them, and how they role model substance use. One student said “That’s what we are going to absorb and see as normal. My advice is to keep talking and to do the kinds of things that are healthy and good because kids are watching.”

Marijuana use, perception of harm, and its connection to our kids’ mental health was also discussed at the Forum  

The survey data shows the average age of first use of marijuana in LOL is 14.1, and by 12th grade, 19 percent of students reported trying marijuana, but the Youth Panel felt that number was under-reported.  

They also shared that teens acknowledge drinking and driving is very dangerous, but that “smoking weed” and driving is something that “kids do all the time.” This is another area for us to keep discussing with our kids and each other, with recent adult-use cannabis legalization and its impact on our communities.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition is a DFC grant-funded community organization dedicated to prevention and supporting all youth and families. 

For more information about this survey, LOLPC campaigns and programs, or to become involved, visit www.lysb.org/prevention or contact Alli Behnke, MSW at abehnke@lysb.org

Editor’s Note: Alli Behnke, MSW is the LYSB Prevention Coordinator.