Staples Skate Club advocates for mainstream, inclusive culture through Compo Park renovation


Photo taken by Lucy Dockter '23 ck

Co-presidents Freddie Aldridge ‘24 and Noah Salpeter ‘23 are advocating for the complete restoration of the Compo Beach skate park. They are currently communicating with Westport Parks and Recreation and the Westport Youth Commission to figure out the budget plans for the project.

It takes English teacher Jesse Bauks a couple seconds to quiet down the room. About 10 students across all grades are busy chatting, reacting to skateboarding videos on the smartboard and distributing newly designed stickers for the club. But once Bauks has their attention, the energy in room 2002 is completely directed towards him.

It’s a Wednesday, and the Staples Skate Club is having their weekly meeting. But this is no ordinary session—Bauks just received an email with news on a massive development the club has been working on: plans to renovate the Compo Beach skate park.

While skateboarding on the Staples campus has historically been prohibited, students interested in the skating world now have an outlet to learn more about their beloved sport. Skate Club co-presidents Noah Salpeter ’23 and Freddie Aldridge ’24 founded the club to create an inclusive community for students interested in skateboarding and to advocate for the complete restoration of Westport’s skate park at Compo Beach.

“We just want to inspire people to get on a board,” Aldridge said, “to light a spark in people, because that’s what happened to me and Noah, and it was life changing for us.”

Ironically, the Skate Club does not skateboard in school at all. Rather, the meetings are devoted to discussions of skateboarding and ideas to improve the skating community in Westport, such as renovations to the Compo skate park. 

The Skate Club took its first step towards its goal with the Compo skate park by sending Salpeter and Bauks to meet with the Westport Youth Commission, a 30-person board composed of adults and students that helps develop new programs and resources for young people in Westport.

“One of the first things that we said when we met with the Westport Youth Commission is that we wanted to remove some of the preexisting rules and signage about it being only skateboards,” Bauks said.  “So we want little kids on scooters and bikes and things like that.”

Bauks has been invaluable to the club as an advocate for the changes they envision. Salpeter and Aldridge approached him at the beginning of the club’s conception to ask him to sign on as the club’s advisor, despite the fact that Bauks has never skateboarded himself.

“I guess maybe I had a little soft spot for kids who are just looking for a place to do what they want to do,” Bauks said. “I think we can actually do something cool and interesting and help the community.”

It was difficult at first for Aldridge and Salpeter to establish themselves as an official Staples club. They cite having received pushback from the school due to what they perceived as safety concerns.

While skateboarding on the Staples campus has historically been prohibited, students interested in the skating world now have an outlet to learn more about their beloved sport.

— Allison Gillman '23, Alex Gaines '25

“We got rejected, I think it was like three or four times,” Salpeter said. “On one of [the applications], I explained to [administration] that we wouldn’t skateboard on campus, and then they said ‘we can’t approve your club due to safety reasons.’ They [initially] didn’t give us a chance.”

After many attempts and regulations of the club’s agenda and goals, it was finally accepted as an official Staples club. Once they had a room, advisor and some members, the Skate Club immediately began constructing its big plan for Compo. Currently, the club has been working on budgeting plans and figuring out exactly which sections of the park need work done. They’re actively in communication with the Westport Parks and Recreation department as well as the Youth Commission.

In addition to moving forward with the park renovation plan, the skate club has also featured Zoom guest speakers during its weekly Wednesday meetings, providing students with opportunities to learn more about professional skating and ask questions. One of these recent guest speakers was California-based skateboarder Jeff DeChesare, who posts actively about his skating on Instagram.

“For someone who is just starting out skateboarding, I think [DeChesare] would be very inspirational for them,” Aldridge said. “He’s telling all these stories and all this stuff, so I want to continue [featuring guest speakers].”

Younger members of the Skate Club have found it to be a productive way to interact with those who share their passion, to learn new skills and to maintain their mental and physical health.

“We’re all very kind and supportive of each other, so that’s why I joined,” Kelpin Gomez ’25 said. “I also have a very deep passion for skating, so I actually want to support my friends.”

For others, Skate Club is a completely new experience that stokes their sense of camaraderie and motivates them to help improve their community.

“Skate club is something new that I never tried before, but it’s really cool seeing people skating,” Kimberly Cheng ’24 said. “I get to make a lot of new friends, and I can also help the community.”

As his time at Staples and as co-president comes to an end, Salpeter hopes to see the Skate Club grow in student enrollment and expand its prevalence in the Westport community. He also hopes to eventually work with the Westport Public School District to reintroduce skateboarding on-campus in a way that is friendly and safe for anyone interested. 

“I want to reach out to everyone and really tell people, yo, this is a safe place,” Salpeter said. “Skaters aren’t like these big tough guys, we’re all chill, and I just want to get everyone in there.”