Painter, volleyball player, rock-climber, adaptive ski-instructor, and first Greens Farms Academy girl to graduate with a concentration in STEAM, senior Kendall Roche has many achievements to her name. This month she added another: National Merit Scholarship finalist.

The Darien resident, who attends a Greens Farms Academy, a private school in Westport, has a chance to earn one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarship awards, together worth more than $35 million.

Final scholarship winners, chosen from a group of more than 16,000 finalists, may be notified by NMSC as early as March. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

To become a finalist, these students met the following criteria: have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier qualifying test performance. They also had to submit a detailed scholarship application, which included an essay by the student essay and information about their participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Roche is still deciding where she wants to go to college but plans to major in biology.

State Rep. Terrie Wood, R-141, visited Royle School in Darien to read to students in celebration of Read Across America Day.

Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2, which is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, with the goal of sharing the joy of reading with elementary schoolers.

Wood read a Dr. Seuss book to a class at Royle.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) named Darien resident Anna Witkowski director of its Stamford School Readiness, the agency’s largest program.

CLC is a nonprofit with eight locations in Stamford that together serve nearly 1,000 children It is the third largest early childhood education provider in Connecticut. CLC provides federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs along with state-funded Child Development and School Readiness programs. It also offers a private pay program.

Witkowski joined CLC in 1994 as a head teacher and was promoted to education coordinator, education manager and assistant director before becoming director of the organization’s Child Development program in 2010.

Witkowski, who also serves on the Connecticut Early Childhood Directors Forum, has lived in Darien 14 years and has two children who attended CLC and are now students at Darien High School.

Waveny LifeCare Network in New Canaan has welcomed three key staff members to its management team since the New Year: Michelle Ernst, director of development; Eleanor Ryan, director of resident care at The Village; and Stella Clarke, director of volunteers.

Ernst, who joined Waveny as the director of development, is a New Canaan resident with a long history of local nonprofit service. With previous roles at the New Canaan Nature Center, and most recently with New Canaan Community Foundation, Ernst will be directly involved with Waveny’s development operations and annual fundraising efforts.

An English native who has also lived in Singapore, Clarke moved to the United States in 2005 and, along with her family, became a U.S. citizen in 2016. Prior to joining Waveny as the director of volunteers, Clarke served as mission director for Noroton Presbyterian Church of Darien. In 2009, the Darien resident led the volunteer team that brought the first Feed My Starving Children MobilePack to the East Coast and mobilized 1,000 Darien-based volunteers to pack 200,000 meals during the weekend event.

Ryan, a Nightingale Nursing Award recipient, has been named director of resident care at The Village, Waveny’s award-winning assisted living community dedicated to memory care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In her new role, she will be responsible for leading Waveny’s assisted living nursing team and managing day-to-day operations.

Most recently, Ryan served as a case manager at Greenwich Hospital, where she managed the care needs of all patients on a medical floor, while working alongside physicians, families, caregivers and other healthcare providers. Previously, she held management positions with Constellation Home Care, Atria and Stamford Hospital.

Darien Arts Center is accepting applications for the Ginny Wright Scholarship, given in memory of Virginia Wright to a Darien High School senior who plans to continue his or her study of art in college.

Applications and portfolios are due April 5.

Founded in 1975, the Darien Arts Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing visual and performing arts programs and events for the community.

For application forms and more information, visit or call the DAC office at 203-655-8683.

Dance shoes in closets around Fairfield County are being brought out for polishing as leaders of the local business community begin the demanding process necessary to compete in ElderHouse Adult Day Center’s annual Dancing with the Stars.

The fifth annual gala benefit is March 24 from 6 to 11 p.m. at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton.

The gala event showcases seven Fairfield County business representatives, each paired with an award-winning dance professional from Norwalk’s Fred Astaire Dance Studio, who donate their time to practice routines, hone them to perfection, and compete in this exciting and impressive dance competition.

The notable lineup of 2018 dancers representing Fairfield County includes:

Carolyn Donohue-Ulman, assistant to president and director of Trademark Anti-Counterfeit, Dooney & Bourke in Norwalk;

Hank Fatigate, general manager of the Little Pub in Wilton;

Eric Ferraris, chief operating officer at Toohner-Ferraris Insurance Group in Wilton;

Nathan Gottlieb, co-owner of All Seasons Marine Works, located in Rowayton and Westport;

Karen Kelly, senior vice-president at First County Bank in Stamford;

Andrea Kostanecki, a realtor at William Pitt Sotheby’s in Rowayton;

Kristin McClutchy, owner of Pure Barre Darien.

Dancing with the Stars Gala Benefit is ElderHouse’s largest annual fundraising event and helps the Norwalk nonprofit to sustain its award-winning program of adult care, socialization, and recreational activities to a senior population living with aging diseases. Funds will be raised through ticket sales, pledges, onsite voting, live auction, and a paddle raise.

For more information on how to donate, make a pledge to a favorite dancer, or for event tickets, contact ElderHouse at 203-847-1998 or visit