2020.9.4 – Saxe Weekly

September 4, 2020

Dear Saxe Family, 

The beginning of the 2020-21 school year has been a whirlwind of sorts. To see the smiles of students walking back through our doors into school made every second of the planning, preparing, pivoting, and everything else in between that it took to get to this day, so worth it! We recognize we will need to be flexible and patient as we move into this new way of operating, teaching, and learning. We also acknowledge all of the hard work, collaboration, and commitment to doing everything possible to get us here today. Thank you to everyone who has and will play a part in our successful launch! 

As our remote learning students join us this coming Tuesday, it will mark our first official day back with our entire learning community since March. While we will continue to capture, share, and celebrate much of the excitement that takes place at Saxe, we also invite you share your remote learning experiences as well by emailing any pictures, vidoes, or stories of success to: lisa.jarosik@ncps-k12.org or me at: david.gusitsch@ncps-k12.org. We may not all be together everyday, but we are still one learning community!

This week in the Saxe Weekly, we take a look at opening days, PTC, new staff at Saxe, Saxe in the news, safety, schedule updates, professional learning, a positivity trail, #DogsOfSaxe, our Saxe SRO, and much more. Enjoy and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. 

 Be well, 

Dave Gusitsch

Principal, Saxe Middle School

Upcoming Noteworthy Dates:

9/7 – Labor Day (No School)

9/8 – First Day of Remote Learning, Cohort X in school

9/9 – Cohort X in school, Cohort Y remote (½ Day)

9/10 – Chort Y in school, Cohort X remote

9/11 – Cohort Y in school, Cohort X remote

*Quotes that resonated with us this week:

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!”

 – Dr. Seuss

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.” 

– Eleanor Roosevelt

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.”

– Naeem Callaway

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” 

– J.P. Morgan

Opening Days 

Please enjoy the first couple of days back with our students for the 2020-21 school year!



The first buses, and bikers, arrive!

Dr. Luizzi got right into the mix with students at Saxe both in the classroom and out!

Dr. Clapp was ready to greet our newest students as 5th-graders arrived!

Ms. Rende catching a great family photo!

PTC Breakfast

Thank you to our wonderful PTC for the great breakfast as we began our fifth day of professional learning last Friday, it helped get us through the stretch!

New Staff at Saxe

We are so fortunate to have some amazing new members on staff with us this year! Here is a little information and fun facts about each of them:

Emily Anderson

Grade 5 Reading/Writing

College(s) attended: Framingham State in MA and Sacred Heart University

Hometown: Westport but, moving to Stamford the end of this month

Hobbies: Needlepoint, reading and cooking

Other States you’ve lived in: Ohio and Massachusetts

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Being able to spend extra time with my mom.  We took lots of walks and had many laughs!

Favorite Sports Team: NY Giants

Favorite Genre of Music: Is John Mayer a genre?

Lisa Battista

Special Education

College(s) attended: Sacred Heart University & Quinnipiac University

Hometown: Yorktown Heights, NY

Hobbies: Hiking, Listening to music!

Other States you’ve lived in: New York

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Spending time with my newborn (at the time)!

Favorite Sports Team: Giants & Mets!

Favorite Genre of Music: ALL! (minus country)

Lauren Nicole Sherwood

Main Office Administrative Assistant

College(s) attended: Undergrad- University of Arizona, Grad- Florida State University

Hometown: Stamford, CT

Hobbies: Theatre, Crafting

Other States you’ve lived in: Arizona, Florida

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Watching my son Jackson learn how to ride his bike without training wheels!!

Favorite Sports Team: NY Mets, NY Giants!!

Favorite Genre of Music: Broadway!

Sara Willstatter

Building Substitute

College(s) attended: Manhattanville College and Cuny City College of New York

Hometown: White Plains, NY

Hobbies: hiking, running, reading

Other States you’ve lived in: New York

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Having breakfast with students

Favorite Sports Team: New York Yankees

Favorite Genre of Music: Classic Rock

Tara Schang

Building Substitute

College(s) attended: Coastal Carolina University

Hometown: Brookfield, CT

Hobbies: Shopping, going to the beach, spending time with my family & my cat

Other States you’ve lived in: South Carolina for college

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Extra quality time with my family

Favorite Sports Team: GO COWBOYS! 

Favorite Genre of Music: Hip hop & pop

Christina Hafkemeyer (Ms. Hafkemeyer)

Grade 5 Social Studies/Math

College: Sacred Heart University (Undergrad and Graduate)

Hometown: Vista, NY 

Hobbies: Playing volleyball (and coaching volleyball)

Lived: I have only lived in NY

Favorite Memory in Quarantine: Going on walks everyday to get outside!

Favorite Sports Team: New York Giants

Favorite Music: I like everything!

George Sanders

Band Long Term Substitute

College(s) attended: SUNY Potsdam, University of Illinois

Hometown: Liverpool, NY

Hobbies: Walking my dog for hours and hours a day

Other States you’ve lived in: New York, Alabama, Texas and Illinois

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Getting our new dog

Favorite Sports Team: UConn Women

Favorite Genre of Music: Classical

Austin Ekstrom

Grade 6 Science

College(s) attended: UConn / Sacred Heart University

Hometown: Newtown

Hobbies: Hiking, fishing, gardening, sports

Other States you’ve lived in: None

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Hiking with my sisters

Favorite Sports Team: Yankees

Favorite Genre of Music: Pop

Charles (Larry) Cox

Challenge Grade 7/8

College(s) attended: UMass-Amherst, UNLV, Sierra Nevada College

Hometown: NYC & Fairfield (Andrew Warde HS)

Hobbies: Swimming, Social Dance & Zumba, ethnic foods, cooking

Other States you’ve lived in: NY, CT, MA, CA, NV

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Gardening/planting project (looks much better!)

Favorite Sports Team : NY Mets (heartache!)

Favorite Genre of Music: R & B

Kim Hillyer 

School Counselor Grade 5/6

College(s) attended: Lafayette College and Western Connecticut State University 

Hometown: Bethel, CT

Hobbies: Running, crafting 

Other States you’ve lived in: None 

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: the day the teachers drove around town to see all of the students outside their houses

Dan Devine

Grade 7 Social Studies

College(s) attended: Wesleyan University (BA); Fairfield University (MA); Quinnipiac University (MS)

Hometown: Norwalk, CT

Hobbies: Coaching swimming, playing volleyball, reading, family time

Other States you’ve lived in: Just CT

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Birth of my son!

Favorite Sports Team: Notre Dame, Yankees, Giants

Favorite Genre of Music: Classic Rock

Kirsten Link 

College(s) attended: Sacred Heart University ( Bachelors and Masters) 

Hometown: Mahopac, NY 

Hobbies: Cooking 

Other States you’ve lived in: CT and NY 

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Getting to spend more time with my family

Favorite Sports Team: New York Giants 

Favorite Genre of Music: Country 

Samantha Palazzo

Grade 6 Math

College(s) attended: Fairfield University (undergrad and grad)

Hometown: Mohegan Lake, NY

Hobbies: Dance, Reading, Spending time with friends and family

Other States you’ve lived in: New York

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Having a backyard college graduation for my sister!

Favorite Sports Team: Yankees

Favorite Genre of Music: Pop

Kelly Barrett

Social Worker

College(s) attended: James Madison University & Fordham University 

Hometown: Fairfield, CT 

Hobbies: Reading, spending time with friends & family, going to the beach 

Other States you’ve lived in: VA, MD, NY, NJ, PA 

Favorite Memory of Quarantine:Working in my pajamas!

Favorite Sports Team: Yankees 

Favorite Genre of Music: Country 

Elliot Recchia

College(s) attended: Wellesley College, Pace University, University of Santa Cruz, Florida Institute of Technology

Hometown: New Haven, CT

Hobbies:  travelling, swimming, being with my kids

Other States you’ve lived in:  MA, NY, CA (and England!)

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: being there for our baby’s first word (“Dada!”)

Favorite Sports Team:  my favorite sport is Triathlon – no teams!

Favorite Genre of Music:  Too many to name – as long as it’s not country 🙂

Jon Zajdel 

7th Grade Social Studies Substitute

College(s) attended: Ithaca College (undergraduate) Sacred Heart University (graduate)

Hometown: Stamford, CT

Hobbies: Swimming, yoga, reading  

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Starting a book club 

Favorite Genre of Music: Folk 

Pics “on the way”…

Julia Blair

Spanish Teacher (Long Term Sub)

College: WCSU

Hometown: Brewster, NY

Have also lived in Danbury, CT

Hobbies: dancing, hiking, exploring different  languages and cultures

Favorite port: Gymnastics

Favorite Music: Latin, Rhythm & Blues. Calypso

Geoff Cleveland

Building Substitute

Undergrad: University of Minnesota

Graduate: The College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, MN) and Colorado State University Pueblo

Hometown: Eagan, MN

Hobbies: Hiking, Golf, Softball, Barbequing (smoking meats), Classic Cars

Other states you have lived in: Minnesota

Favorite Memory of Quarantine: Less traffic on the roads!

Favorite Sports Team: The Minnesota Vikings

Favorite Genre of Music: Is lounge a genre? I’m a big Frank Sinatra guy

 Saxe Spirit

Interested in ordering some Saxe Spiritwear?  Check out the new offerings from our PTC!

New Saxe Spiritwear!

Available August 24th – September 8th

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE   password: hawks (all lower case)

Girls Cuddle Crew Top

Price: $35

(add $6.00 for XXL)

Reusable Masks (2 Pack)


Saxe in the News

Some of our walkers hit the “big-time” as we began the school year, including 5th-grader, Sean Deasy, who was interviewed by channel 12. Enjoy!


Around Saxe

One of our parents shared an article about preparing for back to school success.  If you are interested and would like to read more, you can find the article here: https://childmind.org/article/preparing-for-back-to-school-success/

Safety at Saxe

We are grateful for the thoughtful planning and support from our district leadership who ensured the safest environment possible for students and staff upon our return. Below are a few pictures:

Ms. Nelson practicing safe social distancing with her 6-Green students

Remote Learners

We look forward to welcoming our remote learners back on Tuesday (9/8)! Thank you to our office staff who helped prepare technology and supply pickup so all of our students are ready to begin their learning experience for the school year!

A note from a student…

If this doesn’t tell you how much some of our students are excited to be back, I am not sure what does… Thank you to this student for taking the time to share this experience with us and allowing us to share it out!

Today is a day that is important. This is a day that will live in paramount importance to me. A day that will I will be remembered. Because this is the FIRST time that I haved moved from another place and attended school there. I was excited to attend the BEST school in Connecticut! I just wanted to thank you principals for turning the dream to reality. Your hard work and determination really paid off. Your expectations are really high, and that is really wonderful. Please let me tell a little bit about myself

My name is (student) and I think school is a great place to learn and interact. I want to start a business when I’m older (I was thinking about doing that over the summer!). I think you principals are very nice in person and in public. You are great people. So thank you for the assistance that you’ve provided for the school!



Daily Schedule

After working through our schedule this week, we made some minor changes to the daily schedule that you may want to note for at-home learning. School will still begin/end at the same times, the periods were just slightly modified to help accommodate some of our transitions throughout the building. 

Our Wednesday “3-hour school day” schedule will be updated on our website at the beginning of the week. For your reference, school will still begin at the same time (7:30/8:20) and will end at 10:30 for Upper Division and 11:20 for Lower Division. 

For your reference:

If you would like to view the A – F rotation days for the month of September, you can find it below, on the Saxe Website, or use this link – Saxe September Rotation/Cohort Days

Note: please check our website for the most up to date information. 

Professional Learning

Staff continued to learn and grow as we prepare to kickoff our livestream teaching and learning on Tuesday. 

Reminding our students what will keep us safe and healthy…

The best t-shirt that I saw a teacher wearing this week!

The Saxe Positivity Trail

I was greeted by this nice surprise Thursday afternoon and found out later that 6-Green was busy spreading joy on our campus. Nice work!

This may be the “mask of the week”…

Not only does our SRO, Officer Deak, keep us safe, he keeps us laughing (yes, that is a rainbow unicorn that he “wrassled”…)

Lulu was our first #DogsOfSaxe visitor that we saw this week!

We were greeted with unbelievable sunrises on the first couple of days – amazing!

Have a great week!

* A special thanks to Lauren Sherwood for the continuous stream of positive, optimistic quotes!

Saxe Resources (live links)

Website: https://www.ncps-k12.org/saxe 

PTC: http://www.saxeptc.org/


Twitter: @SaxeMS


The Saxe Weekly: SaxeMS.com

Saxe Middle School

Celebrating Our Learning Community Through Caring, Communication, & Commitment

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