DHSPA Meeting: Panel Discussion “Who is Your Team at DHS?”

On September 23rd, 2020 we held a webinar discussion with several members of the school administration.

The webinar was moderated by Meg Emanuelson, Director of Guidance and we heard from Ellen Dunn, our School Principal as well as from:

Mark Mazzone, Kate Dimoulas and Paul Ribeiro – Asst. Principals

Marc Power – School Counselor

Eileen Whalen – School Psycholigist

Bryan Wallman – School Resource Officer

Joyce Sixsmith – Connections Counselor

Keith Keeler – History Department Coordinator

Christian Dockum – Science Department Coordinator.

The link to the recording can be found HERE:

Access Passcode: z3!Zs9v#

Welcome to the DHSPA 2020-2021 School Year!

We look forward to working together during the upcoming school year with flexibility and creative planning! 

Feel free to contact us with any questions, and please note our new email address: DHSPAemail@gmail.com. Joan Kanlian & Tiffany O’Connor, 2020-21 DHSPA Co-Chairs

Please click on the Parent Survival Guide tab (above) for a brief summary of new and important DHS information, which will be updated regularly.   

Additionally, please view the DHS Orientation Video (freshmen and other new DHS families) and the recorded DHS Reopening Meeting (current and new DHS families) to be fully informed.  

A few other notes and reminders:

DHS Spiritwear will be sold outdoors under a tent during ipad pick up on September 2nd, 9 am to 12 pm. Credit cards accepted! (Masks required).

To be included in the DHS Directory and on the DPN (parent newsletter) email distribution list, you must sign up and provide your contact information. Instructions below…

If you are new to DHS, please go to: join.atozconnect.com. You will be prompted to input your family and student information. Please note that we identify students by their Year of Graduation. 

For current DHS families, if you have a username/password from last year, you can bypass the password reset process and access the directory directly by visiting login.atozconnect.com. (You will be asked to verify your information every year).

You may purchase the DHS Directory directly through the AtoZConnect website. We are offering three options: Digital Directory only, Print Directory only, and Print & Digital Combo Package. All print directories must be ordered through AtoZConnect by August 31, 2020. 

Note: If you have a student at Middlesex Middle School or one of the elementary schools using an AtoZConnect digital directory, you need to create a unique password and verify your information for each school separately. Please contact the DHSPA Directory Chair, Theresa Vogt (tcvogt3@gmail.com), with any questions about the directory. 

From our DHS Principal

June 4, 2020

Dear Families,

As events unfold around the country, the Darien Public School District joins other organizations and individuals in the call to action to address and end systemic racism. Locally and nationally, many have joined non-violent protests and other peaceful demonstrations. We are amidst uncertainty on many fronts and the conversations we engage in with our children have never been more important. As a District, we are sharing resources with the community that will guide our work moving forward in the race conscious education of our students and support your discussions as families.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has detailed materials for educators and families on teaching about race, racism, and police violence. These resources are critical in helping children understand how to talk about race and accountability. Teaching Tolerance has collated a library of leveled student texts related to themes of understanding race and racism. You can find this library of texts here: Student Texts.

Similarly, the National Association for School Psychologists (NASP) has developed and released helpful information for educators in how we can proactively help children think about and process these difficult ideas. The District will continue to utilize this resource to guide our instruction.

We are all grappling with how to speak with children about the complex and difficult events occurring in our world, from the continuing public health crisis to the demonstrations and riots occurring across the country. The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education conducted an interview with Dr. Howard Stevenson, a clinical psychologist at the University studying racial literacy and racial trauma. The interview focuses on how to talk to children after racial incidents and can be found here: Dr. Stevenson Interview. Stevenson outlines three key strategies for having a conversation with your child after a racial incident. This three-step plan includes:

  1. Embrace your child’s difference. Make it clear how much you care about her, how her difference is a gift, not a liability, and how not everyone will view it as a positive.
  2. Correct misperceptions the world has about people who are diverse. We certainly know the adult world is filled with misinformation after a racist incident makes news. Kids hear that too. Help them better understand that no one is less human than another.
  3. Monitor your child’s emotions before, during, and after the conversation. Say, “this is an ongoing conversation.” You’re going to keep talking about these issues and they should too. When another incident makes headlines, follow up.

The District is committed to engaging students and families in ongoing conversations to support an understanding of the critical need for change. Engaging in difficult conversations is a critical step in fostering acceptance and embracing differences. We encourage you to speak with your children about these issues as we will in our classrooms. We are available to provide additional support for your families if there is a need at this time.


Ellen Dunn

Additional resources:

Edweek.org: Resources for discussing police violence, race, and racism with students

Oakland Public Library: Resources for talking to kids about racism and justice

Teaching Tolerance: Resources for teaching about race, racism, and police violence

NASP: Call to action to end racism and violence against people of color

NASP: Resources on social justice

NASP: Understanding race and privilege

American Psychological Association: Talking to kids about discrimination

Early Childhood Education Assembly: Resources for educators focusing on anti-racist learning and teaching

Cult of Pedagogy: A collection of resources for teaching social justice

CSDE Recommendation How White Parents Can Use Media to Raise Anti-Racist Kids

Senior Celebrations

Dear DHS Senior Family,

The Darien High School Parent Association’s Senior Send-Off committee is working closely with the Darien High School Administration to develop new, creative and safe ways to celebrate our seniors. We are excited to share our plans with you and will send further details as they are finalized. These events and activities are designed to supplement the senior recognition being offered by the DHS Administration.

Yard Signs Yard signs congratulating the Class of 2020 were delivered on May 12th to every member of the senior class whose parents opted-in to our “Senior Surprises” Google form.  We hope your seniors were surprised!

Senior Send-Off Slideshow – Parents have been invited to upload photos of seniors at DHS events/activities/clubs for the Senior Send-Off Slideshow; a link will be provided to view the slideshow on June 11th. 

Adopt-a-DHS Senior Week – June 1st – 5th – We invite all parents of DHS Seniors to participate in this program designed specifically for the Class of 2020, which randomly matches families of Darien elementary & middle school students with a DHS senior.  Families will drop off a homemade card or sign, a flower from their yard, or a small token at the student’s home between June 1st and June 5th. 

Senior Cap and Gown Pick-Up Day – June 9

The DHSPA will provide decorations so students can decorate their cars!

Class of 2020 Diploma Distribution Day – June 11

 All seniors will be entered into a raffle drawing for exciting Senior Send-Off prizes.

8 pm: Senior Send-Off Slideshow.  Families are encouraged to enjoy the slideshow together at home (link to viewing site will be provided).  Raffle winners will be announced during the video.

We have been working closely with the administration and town officials to explore all options to celebrate the seniors, taking into account all town/health department restrictions and social distancing guidelines.  All local and state Executive Orders have been respected in our planning.  Our team of parent volunteers is working tirelessly to make this time special and memorable for the Class of 2020.  We thank you for your support!

Lori Olson and Joan Kanlian

DHSPA Co-Chairs

DHS Senior Salute

Even though we cannot hold our inaugural Senior Send-Off as originally envisioned, the good news is that we are currently hard at work planning safe and creative ways to honor all 361 members of the DHS Class of 2020!
Parent volunteers placed signs in the yards of each DHS senior today – thanks for your help @the_darien_depot – and there is much more to come! We invite you to participate in our celebration! Send a note of support or congratulations to our DHS seniors by sharing social media posts with the hashtags #DHSSeniorSalute  #BlueWavePride.