Autistic teen says peers at Norwalk High unfairly label him a threat

The Norwalk Hour

Owen Lynch went to school early Tuesday, thinking it would be a typical day at Norwalk High.

The 17-year-old junior mostly kept to himself, something he’s learned to embrace as he navigates life with autism and a lack of social skills.

But by third period, the school was under a shelter alert, as the administration had received a report from a student who thought he heard a gun sling back in the boys bathroom earlier in the morning.

Since Lynch was at the bathroom around that time, he was pulled out of class during third period and questioned by Norwalk police and a school security officer, he said.

They took his phone and searched him, and later searched his locker, too. They found nothing, so they sent him back to class.

Lynch thinks that’s when the rumors started — and when an old photo of him began circulating on social media with captions that read, “@schoolshooter” and “He’s the one who brought the gun.”

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Stolen symbol: A Wilton mother’s quest to reclaim the ‘swastika’

The Wilton Villager

Growing up in India, Shefali Patel remembers her grandma painting a holy swastik on the corners of her doorsteps every morning.

Her grandma would make red paste and paint the symbol’s four arms equal in length and extend the ends at right angles, adding a dot in each compartment.

Patel was taught the symbol was an emblem of Lord Ganesh, the Hindu deity of good fortune, and that it represented the existence of goodness — as its Sanskrit origins denote. The word “swastik” in Sanskrit means “well-being,” and this is where the word “swastika” comes from.

“And the message was: Do not desecrate this by bringing in anything evil into this environment,” Patel said. “Now that the swastik stands guard, no evil can enter.”

Read the rest of the story. (Won a third-place Excellence in Journalism Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists)

NY artist brings ‘Art Shed’ to Cannondale Village

The Connecticut Post

Across the train tracks beside the historic Cannondale Village is a yellow shed that once was empty for a year. Now the small space is filled with vibrant paintings of bugs from Thailand, recycled art sculptures and painted furniture.

Ann Ladd, an artist from White Plains, N.Y., had her eye on the property for some time and finally transformed it into the “Art Shed” she envisioned it to be about a month ago. Her artwork, and those of friends and family, hang on the walls and are on display. One’s attention may be drawn to the running bird sculpture Ladd constructed out of a potato masher, a trowel, a scythe and an egg scale. Or the large, copper cricket her son, Jude Ferencz, sculpted out of sheet metal.

The Art Shed also serves as another studio, where Ladd can paint for hours on the weekends in serenity of the small bubbling brook just outside her window.

“People walk in and say they would like to just rent it just for an hour, just for the peaceful environment,” Ladd said. “This whole Cannondale Village is kind of like Oz.”

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Wilton Quakers celebrate 75 years

The Norwalk Hour

In Quakerism, listening to the voice of God is more than sitting in silence. It’s centering your body, clearing your mind of thoughts and, sometimes, repeating a phrase to yourself as you wait for a divine message.

At times, people feel overcome with the sense to stand up and share that message or revelation with everyone else in that worship meeting.

This has happened several times to Renda McCaughan, a ninth-generation Quaker.

“One of the basic tenets of Quakerism is that we don’t believe that we need a minister to tell us what God is all about. We believe that God can speak to us directly,” she said.

“I’ve been a Quaker all my life, so I’ve had a lot of experiences in this waiting business.”

Read the rest of the story. (Won a first-place Excellence in Journalism Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists)

A Stronger Bond 

The News-Gazette

Darrell Price was especially tired one night after a long day at work, and his wife, Peggy, noticed. She knew it was hard for him to juggle two jobs, one as a DeWitt County assistant state’s attorney and the other caring for her. Many a husband would leave his wife, she remembers thinking that night, because of that burden.

“Do you hate me because this happened?” she recalls asking him.

“No,” he quickly responded.

“How? Isn’t this a tortuous life for you? I mean, wouldn’t you rather just leave?”

“Well, if I didn’t love you, I probably would.”

Read the rest of the story. (Placed sixth out of a record 159 feature writing entries in the 2015 Hearst Journalism Awards)