November 2, 2013 12:17PM
By Eric Vo
WALLINGFORD — School administrators and town officials plan to further develop the partnership between the community and Choate Rosemary Hall.
Choate, at 333 Christian St., is a private boarding school for students in grades 9 through 12. The quality of the partnership between Wallingford and Choate was the focus of a number of a questions during recent candidate forums.
Numerous sports teams and organizations use Choate’s field for games and tournaments, such as the The Wallingford Invitational Soccer Tournament. Volunteers in Choate’s Teach Music Club give instrumental music lessons to children at the Spanish Community of Wallingford.
To continue building the relationship, Choate Headmaster Alex Curtis recently created the manager of community relations position.
“To demonstrate the commitment between the school and the town, Alex created my position,” said Hillary Nastro, Choate’s community liaison.
Nastro said Curtis met with School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo and Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. last week to discuss opportunities for more partnerships. As a result of the meeting, Choate will make a donation to the Mahan Planetarium restoration project at Sheehan High School, according to Nastro.
Menzo said that Choate will make a $2,500 donation to a school system plan to lease a storefront in downtown that will have high school students working with business owners through a mentoring program.
Dickinson did not return a call for comment Friday.
Town Councilor Jason Zandri, who is running against Dickinson, thinks the partnership between Wallingford and Choate should expand.
Zandri added that he wanted to see “more of everything,” such as an increase in engagement and involvement at ceremonies, as well as events happening in downtown.
He used the relationship New Haven has with Yale University, and how the school’s relationship with the city was beneficial for both parties. If Choate doesn’t succeed, Zandri said, the town loses it as an asset and “magnet” in town. The same could be said of Wallingford, where if the town fails, families would be less willing to send their children to Choate, he said.
“A successful Wallingford leads to a successful Choate, and a successful Choate leads to a successful Wallingford,” Zandri explained. “The symbiosis feeds each other.”
While she believed Choate has a good relationship with Wallingford and the town’s school system, Nastro said she was hired to do more.
“I’m constantly trying to talk to people like Dr. Menzo and people in town that have a big connection to Choate,” she said.
Menzo said he will continue to meet with Choate’s headmaster.
The headmaster is deeply invested in connecting with the school district,” Menzo said. “... I certainly believe there is going to be more community partnerships in the coming months and years.”