Summary: Mariangela Lisani, Maserati, Staples Class of ’52…

In 2001, Mariangela was a Staples High School rock star.

The senior won the national Siemens Westinghouse Science & Technology competition. and the Intel Science Talent Search (where she met President Bush). Each came with a $100,000 grant(!).

But she didn’t stop there. Mariangela has been captain of the Mathematics team at Staples, founder and captain of the engineering team, concertmaster of the chamber and symphony orchestras, and recipient of awards in Italian and Spanish (both of which she is fluent). Of course she was best of the year.

Then the Harvard graduate was honored with the Glenn Seaborg Nobel Prize Visit Award at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in San Jose, California – and received a trip to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.

So what is Mariangela doing these days?

She earned a Ph.D. from Stanford in 2010, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science. Since then she has been in the physics department at Princeton University.

Trained as a theoretical particle physicist, her research focuses on the nature of dark matter. Mariangela’s interdisciplinary work incorporates ideas from astrophysics and data science. Her current focus is on how variations in the cold dark matter paradigm affect galactic- and subgalactic-scale observables.

So why today’s “06880” call?

She has just been appointed investigator for the Simons Foundation. That too is a very big thing.

The Simons Investigators program supports outstanding theoretical scholars in their most productive years as they establish creative new directions of inquiry, provide leadership and mentor early career researchers.

Simon’s Investigators are appointed for 5 years, renewable for an additional 5 years. Each investigator receives $100,000 per year in research grants. An additional $10,000 per year is made available to the Investigative Division

Congratulations, Marianne. They continue to make Staples and Westport proud.

Rockin’ the world! (Hat tip: Steve Stein)

Mariangela Lisanti

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Speaking of staples, Sunday’s “06880” roundup saluted the class of 1962. They were celebrating their 60th anniversary at the Ned Dimes Marina.

But they’re just kids compared to the class of ’52. Let’s listen She!

Nine alumni just enjoyed their 70th (!) reunion at the Rive Bistro – not far from their old high school on Riverside Avenue. (Today it’s Saugatuck Elementary).

Ed Backus – a 1948 graduate – joined them, making them feel very young.

The class has met every 5 years since graduation day: Friday the 13th, 1952. “Our ties to Staples are strong!” says Jess Thompson Huberty.

You are indeed. Hail Staples! Hail class of ’52!

Staples High School Class of 1952 at the Rive Bistro: Seated (from left): Lu List Morris, Susan Stokes. Middle row: Roxanne Gette Martin, Barbara Hendricks Chamberlain, Jess Thompson Huberty, Sonja Messelt Ziluca, Don Switter, Ed Backus. Back: Bill Gault. Sending Regrets: Bev Breault, Lynn Lucke Lutkin, Steven Miller, Concetta Palazzo Fedak, Mary Ellen Kottgen McKenna.

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The Maserati owner thought he would be fine on Sunday. His car was just a yard or two past the “No Parking” sign on Hillspoint Road, heading towards the Old Mill from Compo Beach.

The sign is there for a reason. It’s a dangerous spot. This happened next:

(Photos/Jerry Kuyper)

But that’s not the end of the story.

Yesterday afternoon – 72 hours later – the very expensive convertible was still there.

(Photo/John Richers)

And debris from his body still lay in the street.

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Speaking of parking, how about this trifecta near Gaetano’s?

The driver is:

  1. Look in the wrong direction
  2. Next to a “No Parking” sign that’s right next to a …
  3. fire hydrant.

Must have been a deli emergency!

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The Westport Journal has a new editor-in-chief. Thane Grauel will succeed Jarret Liotta at the helm of the year-old online news site on July 1. Liotta will focus on photo and video projects.

Grauel was a reporter for the westport news, Editor-in-Chief at Westport Minuteman and publisher of The houramong other publications.

“The news business is so different now,” he said “06880”. “In the Westport News We had 5 people covering City Hall plus sports, business, entertainment and real estate. The chains swallowed everything. People aren’t being served like they used to be.”

However, Grauel says, “Westport is one of the best covered cities in Connecticut online. The people here are really dedicated. They want to know what’s going on.”

Grauel is a 4th generation Westporter, although his family moved to Milford after Kings Highway Elementary School. He graduated from the University of Connecticut and is a Navy Veteran.

Thane Grauel (photo courtesy of the Westport Journal)

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Speaking of writing:

Bilingual journalist and author Camila Vallejo receives the first-ever Writer-in-Residence award from Fairfield County Story Lab, the collaborative workspace in Saugatuck for creatives.

Vallejo reports on housing and social justice issues for Connecticut Public Radio and WNPR and is a member of Report for America. She was a part-time producer for All Things Considered (read and hear some of her stories here).

The FC Story Lab Writer-in-Residence Award is for emerging writers. Vallejo’s residency will allow her to work at the Story Lab in Saugatuck for free. The lab will install a new media suite so she can record radio broadcasts there. While reporting nationally — including articles on Fairfield County housing differences — she often archives stories from a closet at home.

“Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon today,” says FC Story Lab co-founder Carol Dannhauser.

“Many media companies have downsized their editorial offices and all but eliminated their offices. That means young reporters in particular don’t get to experience the alchemy that happens in a newsroom, where people share ideas and make suggestions when stories hit a dead end.”

During her 6-month residency, Vallejo will host two events for undergraduate and graduate students interested in a career in journalism or media.

Camila Vallejo

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So how many jellybeans were in the Staples Tuition Grants contest?

41,330. The earnings estimate of 41,472 – down only 142 – is from Emerson Watkins. Sean Wagner came in second (41,501). Both receive gift certificates to their favorite Westport restaurant.

Hundreds of people took part in the competition. Estimates ranged from 540 to 751,000.

STG plans to continue the competition next year. It’s another great (and fun) way to raise a portion of the $400,000 awarded to Staples seniors and alumni this year.

As you can see, there were 41,472 gummy bears here.

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Last summer, dozens of Fleishers Craft Butchery employees at four locations quit their jobs after CEO John Adams removed Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride signs workers had put up in windows at the Westport store.

Although they had been there for months only recently had a customer complained.

After the strike, most employees resigned. The stores remained closed until March, when one reopened in Brooklyn. Now it – the last shop in what was once hailed as “the Mecca of the Good Meat movement” with “rock star butchers” – has also closed.

New York Magazine says that after the Westport incident — and the impact of COVID on the Upper East Side location in particular — “Fleishers never found a foothold again.” Despite owner Rob Rosania apologizing and offering staff raises, the company was devastated.

The final completion allows you to stick a fork in Fleishers. (Click here for the full story from New Yorker magazine. Hat tip: Tom Prince)

The Fleishers characters. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Sorvino, for Forbes)

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One store closes, another opens: Westport’s newest store is called Wash The Dog. Angela Koza’s “Self-Serve Dog Wash” has just opened at 375 Post Road West.

There are 6 stainless steel tubs for people to wash and blow dry their dogs in. Full service care also available.

The grand opening is this Saturday (June 25th). Arf!

wash the dog

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Speaking of creatures, Dave Lowrie writes:

“I’ve been waiting to get the right ‘Westport… Naturally’ photo. I think I have it: an early visitor to my compost heap.”


(Photo/Dave Lowrie)

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And finally… in honor of Mariangela’s galactic work (story above):

(Across the universe – well, beyond “06880” – readers help keep us going. Please click here to help.)

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