As just one of two young people selected in January 2013 to serve on the 15-member Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award 2015 Intermediate Selection Committee, Newtown Middle School eighth grader Michael Arther read more than 30,000 pages in 120 books over the course of eight months — 40 of those books during last summer’s break from school. Seeking out the opportunity and committing to the challenge was not unusual for Michael, said his father, Fred.
Not only has Michael always been an avid reader, he has busied himself with the NMS Math Team, Student Council, and the Young Adult Council at C.H. Booth Library. He served this past year as president of the NMS Interact Club, is in the Gifted And Talented Educational Students program, plays golf on a Trumbull league team, and is on a recreational soccer team.
While organizers of the tenth Relay For Life of Newtown are in their home stretch this week, making final preparations for their 12-hour event taking place May 31–June 1 at Newtown High School, organizers of a similar event are beginning to ramp up their annual efforts. Tessa Ruggeri, campaign manager for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) of Westchester-Hudson Valley-Connecticut, and Mia Lilienthal, an LLS campaign specialist, co-hosted a meeting for Newtown Light The Night on May 21. Four members of the local committee organizing a local Light The Night (LTN) event attended the meeting at NYA Sports & Fitness Center. In addition to discussing this year’s LTN, the committee addressed concerns about a recent change of personnel and restructuring of LLS. Newtown’s Light The Night, she said, is not in jeopardy. Newtown’s event is the first of the 2014 LLS season in Connecticut, and is scheduled for Saturday, September 27, at NYA Sports & Fitness Center.
The race began with a splash. This year’s 2014 Great Pootatuck Duck Race on May 24 drew a bustling crowd. Parents and children filled the river’s banks in Sandy Hook Center, lining fences along the water near The Foundry, and across the Church Hill Road bridge that spans the Pootatuck River, and even filling the lot behind Porco’s Karate Academy on Church Hill Road. A record number of 3,863 tickets were sold this year, and an equal number of yellow rubber ducks spilled from a backhoe bucket tipped over the railing at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.
Thanks to funding through the Books Heal Hearts program at C.H. Booth Library, said Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison, she and committee members Ross MacDonald, Janice Bernard, Yvonne Cech, Kim Weber, and Georgia Monaghan are able to present two days of well-known author author and illustrators to students and residents of Newtown. A day of visits to the Newtown schools by children’s literature luminaries — to include Gail Carson Levine, Alan Katz, Sara Darer Littman, Jennifer Thermes, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dan Yaccarino, Paul Meisel, and Joe McKendry — will take place on Friday, June 6. The school visits will be followed by a day of presentations for the public at Reed Intermediate School.
Kirsten Liniger, dressed as Dorothy and carting “Toto” in her basket, waves to passersby before Sunday’s screening of "The Wizard of Oz" at the Edmond Town Hall Theatre. The classic film marked the debut of the Sunday Cinema Series organized by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission and the town hall Board of Managers. The next screening in the series — a monthly event through the end of the year that will continue to celebrate films of 1939 — is June 29 with "Ninotchka" featuring Greta Garbo along with a Laurel & Hardy film "Flying Deuces."
Days before her 80th birthday on Sunday, May 18, Vernice “VJ” Murphy and her rescue dog Cooper went for a brisk stroll around the block. The daily walk is just part of an exercise routine that Ms Murphy says “keeps me young.” She also takes a body sculpting class, “Ultimate Conditioning” with instructor Jill Deierlein, at NYA Sports & Fitness three mornings a week. Laughing as she recalled the class at the NYA, Ms Murphy, thinking of her own age, said the fitness facility “has something for everyone.” With a lifelong belief in physical activity and a good diet, Ms Murphy has again begun her regular routine of NYA classes, but weekly dance class is now on hold due to a hip replacement in December.
C.H. Booth Library Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison, and committee members including author-illustrator Ross MacDonald of Newtown, Janice Bernard, Georgia Monaghan, Yvonne Cech, and CHB Young Adult Librarian Kim Young are encouraging writers and artists age 19 and under to take part in a contest that will build upon the June 6 and 7 experience of famous author/illustrator visits to Newtown. Original works of art, illustration, poetry, fiction, graphic novels, digital art, paintings, collages, prints, fabric art and photography will be accepted through August 30. Mixed media or three-dimensional pieces can be submitted via a clear photograph of the piece. Each piece must relate to the theme “What inspires me…”