May 6, 2016

D’Amico brings community and change to principal’s office

Front Page Story: Margaux MacColl ’16 and Sarah Sommer ’16 | Video: Jimmy Ray Stagg ’16


Next year, Staples High School will undergo a change. The principal’s office will have a new occupant, and Staples students will have a new leader guiding their school: James D’Amico.

“I can’t wait to get back into the school and to be able to call a place home at work,” D’Amico, who is currently working at Town Hall as Director of Secondary Education, said.

D’Amico began his career as a social studies teacher in 2001 at Staples, until he became the department chair in 2005. In 2009, he became the grade six through 12 social studies department chair, and last year he was Director of Secondary Education.

With his administrative background, D’Amico has big plans for the school, first and foremost establishing better communication.

“Something I would like to see happen over time is that whenever we have those big decisions to make,” D’Amico said, “we make sure it’s really inclusive.”

A potential way D’Amico might do this is by implementing an advisory period (a time students can share their ideas) or by putting out an “open call” to ask student opinions.

Morgan Rizy ’18 is in favor of these changes and believes that the majority of communication with the principal should be dedicated to creating a more inclusive, open community.

“It’s important to address social issues. I think people here kind of push them under the rug, but I think maybe addressing them would be better for the environment here,” Rizy said.

Assistant Principal Richard Franzis believes D’Amico has the credentials to complete this change. “He is a good listener as well as a good leader,” Franzis said. “He has experience as both a teacher and department chair here at Staples, so he is well-versed in the culture that is fairly unique to Staples High School.”

Another possible change would be to the grading system. While he didn’t name specific solutions, D’Amico expressed concern over Staples’ stressful environment and a desire to make modifications.


D’Amico’s overall goal with reforms is to create a school more geared toward students’ interests.

“I love what we do in school and it’s so important, but I think we also have to acknowledge that what we do outside of school, to students, I know, is just as important,” D’Amico said.

“That’s where a lot of students feel like they’re doing their real learning. It’s what we teach you in school that allows you to be successful in that arena.”

Franzis also expressed his faith in any decisions that D’Amico chooses to make.

“I think, like any good leader, Mr. D’Amico will take his time in making quick decisions when first assuming his role as principal and not make changes merely for the sake of making changes,” he said.

While D’Amico has plans for change, there are some things he intends to keep the same.

Outside of school, D’Amico’s time is still dedicated to children. “A lot of my life is driven by what my kids are doing. When I’m not here, I’m probably coaching soccer or baseball; I’m Cub Scout leader,” he laughed. “Those are the things that occupy me now.”

No matter what, D’Amico is looking forward to the rewarding position as principal. He explained that working in administration is often difficult because the effects of new policies are often not obvious immediately after the fact. However, he has faith in his ability to make positive, long-term changes to Staples High School.

“You really have to believe,” he said, “that something you can do will have an impact on more than just your class.”

Are you gay or straight? It’s not that simple.

Centerspread Story: Becky Hoving ’17 and Izzy Ullmann ’17 | Interactive Graphic: Alex Spadacenta ’17, Ellie Kravetz ’18

*Names have been changed
Julie’s* eyes wandered along the edges of the scale. They darted back and forth from one end to the next, settling on a spot along the middle. “I guess I’m here?” she announced. A few seconds of silence passed. She bent the corner of the scale back and forth, a perfect triangle forming on the edge of the page. “Well, I mean, I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t had enough experience.”

The scale Julie was asked to place herself on is the Kinsey Scale, a common method of categorizing one’s sexuality at a given time. It uses a rating system from 0 to 6, where 0 is exclusively heterosexual and 6 is exclusively homosexual. An additional anonymous survey that reached 305 students showed that 57.5 percent of Staples students chose a 0 or 6, whereas the others identified somewhere in the middle.

Amanda Gesselman, a social psychologist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction explained that beyond the fluidity of sexual orientation itself, the scale is rooted in complex psychology.

“The psychology behind the spectrum is simply feelings of identity and whether or not that fits what’s considered normal in society,” Gesselman said. “The concept of these issues on a spectrum was developed because people’s feelings of identity don’t fit those strict societal understandings.”

As research about sexuality emerges, so has questioning about the concept of sexuality itself. An anonymous Staples junior has identified her own reasoning for why such “black and white” categories aren’t realistic when it comes to sexuality. “I believe that everyone is born bisexual. I like boys because society told me that I am a girl, so I must like boys,” she said. “But in reality, if someone gives you love and affection, you love them back.”

Chris Fray, the advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance club, also acknowledged that such “feelings of identity” play a large role in sexuality.

“Even though people may not act on certain sexual thoughts, feelings and fantasies, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have them,” he said. “There are such a variety of ways in life to express one’s sexuality, and it isn’t always about acting out sexually. A lot of it is about what people think in their innermost thoughts.”

For Amanda Cubana ’17, a pansexual student at Trumbull High School, the Kinsey Scale is logical for her representation.

“I am definitely a believer in the Kinsey scale becauses sexuality isn’t just black or white; there’s so much gray matter,” she said. “I believe that pansexuality is a flat three on the scale; we love men, women and everything in between,” she said.

Though it is evident that many students have an understanding of the scale, it is not widely known in the community. According to Quincy Cuthbertson ’17, who identifies as heterosexual, the idea of a “sexual spectrum” is not something many students come in contact with on a day-to-day basis.

“This was my first time seeing the scale, but now that I have, I can see how it is relatable and could be accepted,” she said. “Sure, when people first heard of bisexuality they were a little confused, but now they aren’t. That could easily be the case for this scale.”

However, the Kinsey Scale still faces a variety of issues regarding sexual identification, despite the psychology behind it. Many students take issue with its linear nature, since it is unable to represent various sexualities that are not as categorical as a six prong scale.

“Sexuality, if it had to be compared to any physical thing, is more of an ether than a spectrum,” Halley Jonas ’16, who identifies as bisexual, said.



Jonas also went on to explain that the idea of sexuality being represented as a liquid allows people to identify as anything other than heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.

Similarly, Douglas Ragiosa ’16, who identifies as sexually fluid, believes that the Kinsey Scale is not a beneficial method to label sexualities.

“The Kinsey Scale completely disregards being romantic,” he said. “An example is someone who is bisexual homoromantic, which is someone who is sexually attracted to males and females but exclusively romantic with people of their own gender,” he said.

Garrett Burchill ’18, a heterosexual, on the other hand, pointed to a different fallacy with the scale. “People know what they are, and it doesn’t need to be charted on a scale,” he said, looking quizzically at the scale’s descriptions.

Though people may very well “know what they are,” as Burchill noted, that doesn’t mean that all sexualities are widely accepted.

While Ragiosa explained that it was personally easy for him to come out as non-straight at Staples, he also acknowledged that the Staples environment isn’t always accepting to sexual diversity.

“The term sexuality fluid seems to be something new to Staples students,” Ragiosa said. “People can’t really grasp the idea that your sexuality can change from day to day, but it’s a real thing.”

However, Aishah Avidu ’17, a heterosexual, seemed hopeful about how the societal implications of sexual fluidity have evolved and will continue to evolve in the Staples community. “I think sexuality is something fluid and complex,” she said. “Seeing how far we have come in terms of acceptance, I do believe humankind can embrace sexuality’s diversity.”

Spring sports teams look for a playoff push

Back Page Story: Cooper Boardman ’17 | Video: Cooper Boardman ’17


After getting off to an 8-0 start, boys’ lacrosse vaulted to a number four state ranking. The Wreckers fell to number two New Canaan, but rebounded by knocking off FCIAC power Trumbull and third-ranked Ridgefield, thanks to late goals from Dobson Cooper ’18 and Michael Reale ’16. The girls’ have been locked in multiple tight games, with two of the team’s first four games decided on overtime. Lafayette College commit Colleen Bannon ’17 has led the Wreckers in the scoring department, including a five-goal performance versus Newtown.


After the loss of Villanova-bound Peter Richards ’15, the boys’ golf team reloaded for its 2016 season. Led a 25-shot performance by Dan Cozzi ’16, the Wreckers opened their season with a win over Fairfield Warde. The team looks for a strong finish, with the Chappa Tournament and state tournament still on its slate. Girls’ golf picked up a huge victory over defending state champion Greenwich with wins in the number two through four spots in the lineup. Anelise Brown ’16 shot a 37, while Erika MacDonald managed a 48 in the win.


The boys’ had a 46-match win streak that dated back to 2013 snapped by Greenwich during the regular season, but the team bounced back with victories versus St. Joseph and Brien McMahon thanks to the play of Will Andrews ‘16 and Jay Mudholkar ‘17, who picked up victories in each match. The girls’ have rolled through their first 10 games, winning each match with the closest margin of victory being five points. The team has notched five shutouts in part due to quality performances from the top doubles team Megan Brown ’17 and Kristen Butler ’18.


Last spring, the boys’ outdoor track squad placed fourth at the State Open Championships. Despite losses in the field area, the Wreckers return Yale commit James Lewis ’16 and Zak Ahmad ’17. The girls’ look to defend their Class LL title led by Stanford commit Hannah DeBalsi ’16 and Susie Martin ’16, an event where each runner placed first and seventh respectively in the 1600m. Still on the docket for both the boys’ and girls’ are the Loucks Games, Middletown Invitational and FCIAC Championships, where each team will look for top finishes.




Baseball came in ranked number two in the state in the GametimeCT/New Haven Register poll but faltered out of the gate, falling to top ten-ranked Amity Regional, and Montville, with the team holding a 4-7 record through its first 11 games. Injuries to captain Nathan Panzer ’16 and Michael Fanning ’17 made some question Staples’ status as a top team, but younger players on the team were able to effectively fill the holes left in the lineup. A series of strong pitching performances from key players and the sizzling bat of Chad Knight ’19 have allowed the team to jump back into the playoff race, with the team recently defeating Brien McMahon, Fairfield Ludlowe and Norwalk.


On the girls’ side of the diamond, softball won three of six games, including a 23-6 trouncing of Greenwich on the road and a home comeback victory against Ludlowe. Cat Connell ’19 has been a significant addition to the team with her strikeout pitching ability helping to lead the team to several recent victories. In fact, after a difficult start to the season, the team has had a remarkable comeback and is now on a winning streak. They recently took on 2015 FCIAC champion Saint Joe’s, putting up a very good fight against the powerhouse team. The team hopes that they can improve their play for the rest of the season.


Staples boys’ volleyball began its 2016 campaign with one of the toughest schedules in the state, with Class LL powers Southington and Ridgefield on the team’s slate. While the Wreckers suffered early season losses to each of these teams, the team rattled off four straight victories in FCIAC play, led by the play of Jared Himmel ’16 (10 kills vs. St. Joseph) and Kenny Brill ’17 (33 assists vs. St. Joseph). With an 8-3 record so far, they hope to continue their success into the playoffs.


Staples boys’ rugby made significant strides last season, including the program’s first-ever victory over state power Fairfield Prep (after a 12 year drought). The team opened this season with a thrilling 22-21 victory over border rival Aspetuck, and with All-American captain Michael Jennings ’17, the Wreckers have a chance to make a deep run in the state playoffs.


These stories appear in the May 6, 2016 issue of Inklings News.

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