History of TAG
2000/2001: Two SHS students are interested in helping younger students with social decision making by sharing their personal risky behavior experiences. They recruit their friends to participate in a processing group for the purpose of truly identifying how individuals were impacted by the transition into high school and the social decision making that accompanied it. The group was called the Teen Addiction Group and was facilitated by school psychologist Dr. Barbara Fischetti and student outreach counselor Chris Lemone, LPC.
2001/2002: TAG members were asked to take a pledge to abstain from using drugs and alcohol in response to claims from their parents that they were not taking their TAG membership seriously. To a man, they all quit. New students were recruited. About ten kids joined.
Sophomores Joanna Glovinsky, Stephanie Kowalcyk, Deborah Block, Taylor Shaw, Melanie Robinson, Emily Jacobs and Alissa Brummit establish themselves as the main members. Believing strongly in the power of peer education and the necessity of having people with varying attitudes about partying in order to fully identify and process issues teens were faced with socially, they eliminated pledge of abstinence and change the group's name to the Teen Awareness Group. Dr. Fischetti and Chris continue facilitating TAG as a processing group during the first semester.
As a result of all of their processing, TAG members develop a Freshman Health Class presentation. After receiving support from Principal Dr. Gloria Rackovick, SHS Director of Special Education Karyn Morgan, SHS Health Class Director Meg Tylie, and the Westport Youth Commission, TAG's health class presentations commenced. In addition to this, TAG members participated on the original Underage Drinking Task Force which deliberated in Toquet Hall.
2002/2003: In addition to its freshman health class presentation, TAG develops and presents a middle school presentation focusing on the transition from 8th grade into high school. The presentation was reviewed and approved by the Bedford Middle School Pupil Services staff. This year, TAG members also participated in the Four Town Youth Leadership Conference, and were invited to Scarsdale High School (SHS), following an underage drinking incident at a SHS function, to address a special committee comprised of Scarsdale students, parents and professionals regarding TAG's peer education experiences. This was Dr. Fischetti's last year co-facilitating the group.
2003/2004: In their final year of high school, Joanna, Stephanie, Deborah, Melanie, Taylor, Emily, and Alyssa want to end their TAG career with something special, in addition to health class presentations. They lead the group in developing Grim Reaper Day (GRD), managed by Deb Block as her senior option. GRD receives support from Student Assembly, Principal John Brady, Deans Mr. Rich Franzis and Mr. Jim Farnen, and the SHS Collaborative Team. GRD is funded by contributions from Student Assembly, the Principal's fund, and the Weston Westport United Way. Guest speaker Mariann Hudak, from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), shared her story of the death of her daughter at an assembly for SHS juniors and seniors. GRD was held the day before Senior Skip day.
2004/2005: TAG becomes an official club at SHS. The group co-sponsors a presentation at Toquet Hall by David L. Marcus, author of the book What It Takes To Pull Me Through, with Peer Advisors. TAG members participate in Kids In Crisis' first Conference to Keep Kids Safe at Stamford UCONN. GRD is held the day before Junior Prom and is managed by Tory Peman-Dupier as a senior option. MADD's The Hard Truth presentation is featured at the assembly, and Gabi Conti interviews a convicted murderer (DWI) out on parole for an Inklings article.
2005/2006: TAG establishes its first Executive Committee to preside over the group. Ashton Moskowitz - President, Melanie Siegel - Vice-President, Mia Backon - Treasurer & Director of Fundraising, Jordan Zarilli - secretary. Elaine Daignault (Coordinator of Youth Services for the Town of Westport) joins Chris as co-advisor/facilitator.
Largely based on an idea from Calvin Waulcope, TAG sends a "One Free Ride Home" card to the households of all incoming SHS freshman.
TAG sponsors the Save A Life Tour interactive drunk driving simulator at SHS, and advises and collaborates with Weston High School's ADAP group on their school's first GRD. GRD at SHS is held before Junior Prom, for all students! Guest speaker David Pease shared the story of the death of two of his adult children in separate drug and alcohol related deaths.
2006/2007: TAG elects second Executive Committee. Mia Backon - President, Jordan Zarilli - Vice-President, Hannah Berg - Treasurer & Director of Fundraising, Genna Gerla - Secretary. In collaboration with Wilton Youth Services, TAG co-sponsors two presentations by parent educator Dr. James Jones, founder of the organization Familyhood.com. The group holds its first fundraising TAG GALA. Health Class presentations continue. TAG meets with Special Effects and Make-up artist Leigh Radziwon to enhance their skills at turning students into victims for GRD.
Led by Britt Hennemuth, TAG makes its first drunk driving documentary in an effort to show SHS students how no one is immune to the effects of drunk driving. The movie is shown at the GRD assembly for SHS students, accompanied by guest speaker Nicholas Liebowitz' personal drunk driving story. Weston H.S. shows the TAG documentary at its GRD assembly as well.
2007/2008: TAG elects third Executive Committee. Hannah Berg - President, Britt Hennemuth - Vice-President, Joey Rappaport - Treasurer, Lindsay Sagnella - Secretary, Julia Backon - Member at Large. The committee is invited to meet with the Youth Commissions from neighboring towns to report on the experience of making the drunk driving documentary last year.
TAG sponsors comedian John Morello's performance of DIRT, a one man show on the far reaching effects of drug and alcohol use and abuse within a community, for SHS seniors to receive health class credit. Health Class Presentations continue and the group hosts its second TAG GALA.
TAG makes its second drunk driving documentary, which was produced by SHS senior John Karman. The documentary is shown at the GRD assembly, accompanied by guest speaker Mike Krysiuk. Due to the group's successful fundraising efforts the last two years, TAG creates a college scholarship for SHS Open Choice seniors, awarding $4500 to be applied to the college expenses of the three graduating students.
2008/2009: The fourth Executive Committee is elected with some changes. While there is still a President and Vice-President, the group elects to have the other executives share in the remaining leadership responsibilities. Lexi Circle - President, Julia Backon - Vice-President, Chris Marsilio, Jackie Dimitrief, and Nick Cion. TAG members participate in a community panel discussion sponsored by Positive Directions.
TAG sponsors a performance of comedian with a message, Bernie McGrenehan, for SHS seniors to receive health credit.
TAG collaborates with Westport Youth Detective Jill Ruggiero on a campaign within SHS to prevent distracted driving. It also embarks on a year long research project, polling SHS students on the drug and alcohol scene among their peers. The results of the project are depicted in the group's third drunk driving documentary, produced by SHS Junior Steve DeLuca, which is shown at the annual GRD assembly. Guest speaker at the assembly was MADD's Robin Cullen.TAG is invited to present at MADD's summer Power Camp, a high school leadership experience held at Southern CT State University. Courtney Garzone and Carolyn Weverbergh represent the group as they explain the process and effort behind making drunk driving documentaries.
2009/2010: Executive Committee members: Nick Cion - President, Harry Rappaport - Vice-President, Jackie Dimitrief, Lucy Colgan, Courtney Garzone, and Caela McCann. TAG sponsors a community presentation of DIRT, performed to a standing room only crowd in the Municpal Center auditorium. TAG members distributed "One Free Ride Home" cards and surveyed people in attendance at the conclusion to assist with future programming. Click here for results.TAG sponsored Bernie McGrenehan again for seniors, and the debut performance of Jury Reach, a mock trial prevention program by Dr. David Bernstein, with tremendous assistance from SHS TV Production teachers Mr. Mike Zito and Mr. Jim Honeycutt. TAG makes it's fourth drunk driving documentary with senior Steve DeLuca, which is shown at the GRD assembly. Guest speaker Michelle Bassi shared the story of how both of her parents and a grandparent were killed by a drunk driver. The majority of the artwork for GRD was generously donated by Baker Graphics.
2010/2011: Executive Committee members: Caela McCann - President, Courtney Garzone - Vice-president, Jess Russ, D.J. Sixsmith, Stevie Klein and Jackie Kerames. TAG participates in the Community Discussion on Underage Drinking at Bedford Middle School, facilitating discussion groups made up of students and adults. The same week, the group presents the documentary Haze to the student-body with the help of Principal John Dodig and Coach Marce Petroccio, who each made closing remarks asking students to be safe during Homecoming weekend. TAG also, sponsored a Chalk Walk for Homecoming weekend.TAG members teamed with Yale Hospital's student board to promote two distracted driving campaigns at SHS, recruiting students during Club Rush and Grim Reaper Day to pledge not to text and drive . Before December break, TAG sent a public service announcement to the Westport community via various email venues to promote drunk driving prevention, asking people to watch a powerful youtube video made by Australia's TAC. Lily Rappaport, Augie Gradoux-Matt and Courtney Garzone represent TAG on the Fairfield County Coalition Alliance, a group devoted to addressing risky adolescent behaviors within the Westport, Wilton and Weston communities. In March, TAG sponsored a screening of Race To Nowhere in the SHS auditorium, and participated in the PTA sponsored Race To Nowhere discussion a week later. Also, TAG members participate in DARE presentations with Officer Ned Batlin of the Westport P.D.In May, TAG successfully stages its annual Grim Reaper Day, featuring a documentary made by SHS junior Sam Warshaw during assemblies. This was the fifth documentary of its kind TAG has helped produce for GRD over the years. Throughout the school year, TAG presented its "understanding the Westport adolescent social scene" presentation to 16 SHS Freshman Health Classes consisting of nearly 400 students in total.
2011/2012: Executive Committee members: Jackie Kerames - Co-president, Stevie Klein - Co-president, Augie Gradoux-Matt - Vice-president, Zoe Cohen - junior class representative, Lily Rappaort - junior class representative. TAG co-sponsors a screening of Finding Kind with Toquet Hall.TAG hosts a kickoff party at the Saugatuck Rowing Club for members and their families outlining the group's prevention agenda for the year. TAG sponsors a showing of Dying High: Teens In The ER to the SHS student body as part its binge drinking prevention effort before Homecoming. TAG co-presents, with Toquet Hall, a showing of the award winning documentary Finding Kind. The film is shown to fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Toquet Hall. Dr. Noni Eden-Davidai facilitates a discussion with the audience.TAG members are represented on the Fairfield Coalition Alliance by various members. Augie Gradoux-Matt is part of a Positive Directions panel discussion to present statistics accumulated from its Westport Youth Survey Report. TAG members also participated in a social norms training by Positive Directions. For a second year, TAG members participated in Westport's D.A.R.E. presentations to 5th grade students. TAG continued with its Freshman Health Class presentations, visiting 15 health classes during the second and third quarters. The group raised money by participating in the Downtown Cider Sales around the winter holiday season, and through hosting a Balloon Pop at SHS. TAG consulted with Principal John Dodig regarding his student address on tolerance and acceptance. May 18th marked TAG's 9th annual Grim Reaper Day. Assemblies featured a documentary by SHS sophomore Jack Craymer, and two MADD speakers sharing their personal drunk driving experiences. Westport Police Officers Serenti Dobson and Ned batlin were joined by Westport Emergency Medical Technician Marc Hartog in collaborating with TAG members in the day's events. Grim Reaper Day was sponsored by Fairfield County Bank, Cain Management Incorporated, andLeBlanc's Auto.
2012/2013: Executive Committee members: Lily Rappaport - President, Meghan Lonergan - Executive Vice-president, Zoe Cohen - Senior Vice-president, Alexandra O'Kane - Secretary/Public Relations, Gabbie LeBlanc - Treasurer/Dir. Fundraising, Annie Cooperstone - senior class representative, Callie Ahlgrim - senior class representative, Katie Cion - junior class representative, Jack Greenwald - junior class representative.TAG sponsors a presentation for the Westport community by Jordan Burnham at Bedford M.S. For Homecoming, the group sponsors a showing of HAZE for SHS freshman and sophomores, and a presentation of DIRT for juniors and seniors. TAG presented in 17 Freshman Health Classes, and began participating, once again, in D.A.R.E. classes with Officer Ned Batlin. TAG's welcomed Julia Hood, Joanne Rogers, Jim Hood, Rick Leonard, and Attorney Kevin Black as members of its first Adult Advisory Board. TAG members, led by Carly Steckel, meet with representatives from Oliver-Pyatt Centers to incorporate eating disorder information in to Freshman Health Class Presentations. TAG presented its 10th annual Grim Reaper Day and co-produced a drinking and driving documentary with SHS Junior Jack Craymer.
2013/2014: Executive Committee members: Gabbie LeBlanc - Co-president, Meghan Lonergan - Co-president, Katie Cion - Vice-president, Abbey Fernandez - Secretary, Zoe Brown - Co-treasurer, Lizzie Cooperstone - Co-treasurer, Isabel Perry - Co-treasurer, Jack Greenwald - Senior Advisor, Caitlin Hoberman - Senior Advisor, Eliza Yass - Senior Advisor.
TAG sponsors the Save A Life Tour Distracted Driving Awareness campaign to the SHS student body. Seniors received health credit. TAG collaborated with C.O.D.E.S. of Wilton to sponsor a youth conference at the Trackside Teen center which provided training in the suicide prevention program QPR. The group presented in 15 Freshman Health Classes and staged its 11th annual Grim Reaper Day. TAG collaborates with the Westport Police Department and Positive directions to dedicate a Drug Drop Off Box to the Town of Westport. This box, located in the lobby of the Westport Police Department, allows residents to safely dispense prescription drugs that are no longer needed.
TAG members held a fundraising gala at the Shorehaven Golf Club, Mr. Dan Donovan was the guest speaker. Led by Gabbie LeBlanc, Meghan Lonergan and Eliza Yass, TAG becomes TAG, Incorporated - a student run non-profit organization operating as 501(c)3.
2014/2015: TAG began the year with our annual Freshman Health presentations. Next, we began our annual "Remember The Game" campaign, in which we had over 800 students pledge that they will be safe and responsible on homecoming night. We also took part in the Celebrate My Drive campaign, to raise awareness to the dangers of texting and driving, sponsored by State Farm Insurance. TAG held a DUI stimulation with the Westport Police Department in the Staples' stadium, where students were able to safely test out what it's like, and how incredibly dangerous it is, to drive under the influence. Also, most recently we had our huge balloon pop fundraiser, in which over 70 stores and restaurants in the area donated items and gift certificates. This fundraiser donated money to an organization, through the humanities department, that buys holiday presents for underprivileged children. On May 11th, TAG held its 12th annual GRD, where they debuted the "Wellness Fare". In wake of events in the past year at Staples, TAG decided to enforce the need for strong mental health. This fare contained multiple stations such as "Shred it or share it" which enforced how to maintain strong mental health. Chris Sandy came to talk to the students stressing that "one decision can change your life forever."
2018-2019: TAG went through a lot of changes this year. We continued with past events, including another successful year of freshman health presentations as well as Dodge a Cop. We held a TAG Gala and were able to fundraise for our group. The group took a different approach to elections at the end of the year, deciding to start with a smaller board and build off of it.
2020-2021: TAG launched our TAG Talks program with powerful speakers, like Bill Mitchell. While COVID canceled some events, we held our own, COVID-safe, Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention, and met our fundraising goal. We expanded our social media presence, and we are excited to continue helping our community.
2021-2022: TAG continues in its efforts to bring community conversations to our peers through awareness-raising events and Freshman Health Class presentations. We continue to participate in ASFP Programs, collaborating with the Westport Youth Commission to bring cops and kids together, and hosting speakers & informational tables at SHS. We look forward to bringing "GET REAL DAY" back after a 2-year hiatus due to COVID.