West Haven’s Forest School staff honored with giant blue-ribbon pizza
As if last week’s designation of Forest School as one of just four 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools in Connecticut wasn’t enough of a surprise, teachers and staff were honored Wednesday, Oct. 3, with a blue-ribbon pizza.
From Cappetta’s Italian Imports Pizza & Catering, no less.
And we’re not talking about just any pizza.
We’re talking about a giant, 30-inch round pizza with a hand-stenciled blue and gold ribbon emblazoned on the top in special aerosol food coloring.
The pizza — which required a specially made box that Cappetta’s co-owner Donato Cappetta had to order all the way from Michigan — was a thank you and congratulations gift from Cappetta and his family.
Donato Cappetta, whose daughters Mariella, 9, and Luciana, 7, are students at Forest, said of the Blue Ribbon School designation, “It’s awesome! It’s one of the best recognitions that a school ever could get.”
After delivering the giant pizza pie himself to the school, which is only five minutes from the restaurant, Cappetta was joined by his wife, Kristina, and daughters for the presentation in the school’s library.
It came during a break in teacher workshops that followed a half-day of school. Forest School teachers and staff were joined by Principal Tom Hunt and Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro.
The giant pizza, something the Cappettas occasionally make for special occasions or for their “30 in 30 Pizza Challenge,” actually was the idea of Cappetta’s now-retired father, Aniello Cappetta.
Aniello Cappetta said he made a pizza that big more than 40 years ago, back in 1976 at his old restaurant, Mama Lucia in Ansonia.
The actual construction of the pie, which required a special dough mix, was carried out by Cappetta’s pizza-maker Chris Stackpole after Donato Cappetta, who is partners in the business with his brother, Luigi, had a special, double-wide wooden pizza peel made.
All that work didn’t go unappreciated.
“It’s amazing,” said Karen Dandelske, a library media specialist who splits her time between Forest and Pagels schools.
As she looked around her, Dandelske came up with similar words to describe her school’s staff.
“It’s an amazing staff,” full of “a lot of dedicated teachers,” she said.
“It’s very unique,” said Kim Velleca, a fourth-grade teacher at Forest, referring to the pizza.
The school’s honor “is well deserved. Everybody worked so hard,” Velleca said
“We’re a great family,” said second-grade teacher Michelle Harris.
Hunt said he was thrilled by the gift. “I know the work that went into making that,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Education announced its 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Monday, naming Forest — one of West Haven’s neediest schools — along with University of Hartford Magnet School in West Hartford, West School in New Canaan and Haddam-Killingworth High School in Higganum.
Forest School was honored, among other things, for its progress in closing the achievement gap, officials have said. The Board of Education honored Forest at its regular meeting Monday night.