In the News
2021

Nothing can stop us now!

A Night of Comedy, Good Company, and Great Food at Filomena's
November 26, 2021


A HUGE shout-out to Mike Buscetto, his daughter, Sara Buscetto, their family and the entire staff at Filomenas Friday evening. As a result of your generosity our Comedy Fundraiser was a success! S2S would like to thank our comedians, who are true artists that drove through a snow squall to perform. Thank you to all that came out to support our vision and mission! It was a great evening of laughs and delicious food!


Also a special thanks to Derek Shepard for repairing our astronaut and alien and adding the space pet photo opportunity!


Stay tuned for our December Fundraising event!


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Living Out the Legacy - The Viking Press - East Lyme High School
October 25, 2021
Ruby McMahon
Robert Meyer, former science teacher at ELHS, unexpectedly passed away on August 29. Read more...

Niantic Artisan Market
October 9, 2021

STARS To STEM took to Main Street on Saturday, October 9, at the annual Niantic Artisan Market. Visitors learned about the latest plans to launch programs at the East Lyme High School planetarium as youngsters enjoyed the TAKE AND MAKE kits that were created by our Education Committee. Our astronaut and alien photo boards were all decked out for fall and posed for many pictures! Children enjoyed our temporary tattoos and visitors played a game of corn hole while enjoying Milky Way and Starburst candies. Our STARS to STEM apparel was the star of the event. A special rock giveaway was held every hour!


STARS To STEM visitors enjoyed yummy treats from the Walsh Waffle Wagon. The Walsh family donated 20% of their sales to STARS to STEM, Inc. and the Miranda and Bellmore family of café SōL 346 Main St. Niantic, pledged to match the Walsh Waffle Wagon’s event donation. This is in the true spirit of giving in order to support our vision and mission.

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Fundraising Efforts Continue

October 1st to the 31st The Boutique at Christine’s Day Spa will donate 20% of all online purchases to STARS to STEM, Inc. In addition, apply code STARS and get 10% off your order!


Custom Apparel! Want to support STARS To STEM while wearing custom apparel? Visit Niantic Apparel and order your garment, many sizes available. 25% of all purchases will be donated to STARS to STEM, Inc.


Want to show your support of STARS to STEM, Inc.? You can purchase one of these colorful STARS to STEM Planetarium yard signs for $15. $10 from each sign will go directly to phase two of our project, OPERATIONS. The monies raised will be used for the purchase of a laptop and programming software. This will enable our planetarium technology specialists to start designing lessons before our projector arrives. Signs are 16" × 16" and can be picked up in Niantic. Checks made payable to STARS To STEM, Inc. Please put "Yard Sign" in the memo. S2S would like to thank Sign Craft and the entire Wilson family for your support since day one!


Thanks in advance for your support we are making small steps to that GIANT leap in restoring the planetarium at East Lyme High School!

Rocketing to Success
August 5, 2021

Located in a far back corner of East Lyme High School and familiar to many alumni of the school are the remnants of a once-popular planetarium. Although most of the equipment has been dismantled and removed, the remaining dome-shaped space cries out for restoration. STARS To STEM, a local nonprofit lead by community member and President Diane Swan, proposed a plan to restore the facility. Undaunted by the unforeseen obstacles of the past year, the organization and its spirited group of volunteers forged ahead to raise the capital to bring back this treasure and upgrade the space as a 21st century learning center.

One family’s generous proposal helped launch an impressive fundraising campaign that skyrocketed the organization toward achieving their goal. This past June, a community member, aware of the organization’s mission, approached Diane with an incredible offer. The prospective donor pledged to match all contributions that were received in the month of July, dollar for dollar up to $10,000. Excited by the potential boost to its fundraising efforts, STARS to STEM began a carefully orchestrated campaign. Striking a Match raised over $19,000 by the third week of July! Many regional community members and local businesses contributed to this effort and were instrumental in helping STARS to STEM surpass its $10,000 goal.

STARS to STEM, Inc. offers its sincerest gratitude to the Daubar family of East Lyme: Justin and his wife Joyce, daughter Ingrid and son Andrew. Ingrid and Andrew are ELHS alumni and along with their parents they credit their successes to the education they received at East Lyme Public Schools. Furthermore, the Daubars believe in the vision and mission of STARS to STEM, to stimulate love and excitement of scientific learning for the youngest to the oldest citizens and to enrich our community as we inspire all to reach for the stars.

August 16, 2021: It is with great pleasure that on behalf of STARS to STEM, Inc. I announce that we ordered the projector for the planetarium at East Lyme High School! This would not have been possible without our dedicated board of directors, advisors, volunteers and the community who believed in our vision and mission and donated to our non-profit. Mission One Start-up has taken off and we are on to Mission Two - Programming.


Donations continue to be accepted via online, mail or donation jars around East Lyme and Waterford. You can also make us your charity of choice on Amazon. We are extremely thankful for everyone who has shown interest and support as we work to relaunch the planetarium at East Lyme High School. You all truly make a difference!” Diane M. Swan, President

Photo of portable projection system.

STARS to STEM community outreach
at the 2021 Annual Lions Club Art Show and Niantic Farmer's Market


Thursday, August 19th - Such a great day at the Niantic Farmer's Market for Kid's Day! S2S handed out over 150 "Take and Make" telescope kits, magnets and tattoos!

Thank you Niantic Main Street for allowing us to be part of it. We would also like to thank our local Buy Nothing group for saving all the paper towel rolls for our kits.


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Thursday, July 29th - We had another great day sharing our vision and mission at the Niantic Farmer's Market. We handed out so many take and make kits as well as our magnets. People of all ages enjoyed taking their pictures with our astronaut and alien. If you missed the market it's every Thursday from 3-6, so many great vendors. There's something for everyone.

STARS to STEM, Inc. will be back on the 5th and the 19th(Kids' day). Hope to see you there!

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Saturday, July 3rd - I just want to thank everyone who has donated to STARS to STEM, Inc for our "Striking A Match" campaign. In 2 days we have received over $2000 in donations which will be matched dollar to dollar up to $10,000! Despite the rain so many people came out to the Lions Arts and Crafts show. We even had both candidates for First Select-woman/man take advantage of our photo opportunity !!! We also handed out over 100 "Take and Make" telescopes for "Seeing Stars during the day" and our S2S magnets! We will be there again tomorrow from 10-4 so stop on by! Diane M. Swan, President of STARS to STEM

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Sunday, July 4th - Sunday was another successful day for STARS to STEM, Inc. So many people stopped by our tent to learn more about our vision and mission to relaunch the planetarium at East Lyme High School. The planetarium will serve as a regional asset for educational and enrichment purposes for all ages!

In the last 6 days we have received over $3,500 in donations!!! Our "Striking A Match" campaign is running for the month of July. Please remember that a generous donor will match each dollar up to $10,000.

So many great photo opportunities for all with our alien and astronaut. Children were so excited with our "Take and Make" activity. We will have more at the Farmer's Market on July, 29th!

Special thanks to the Niantic Lions Club for having us! We can't thank your organization enough for your continued support! D.M. Swan

2021 Annual Lions' Art Show

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2021 Farmers' Market Kids Day

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Make your own "Seeing Stars in the Daylight" Activity

In case you missed it - here are the directions for the stargazing activity that were distributed at the Art Show and Farmers' Market Kids' Day. Below is the materials list:

  1. Star patterns on bottom of the instruction sheet

  2. Scissors

  3. Cardboard tube from empty paper towel roll

  4. 3x3 inch square of aluminum foil for each star tube

  5. Push Pin for transferring the patterns

  6. Tape

  7. Markers, paint or stickers to decorate the tube


(adult supervision suggested)


Directions for Seeing Stars in the Daylight

Seeing Stars in the Daytime.pdf

July 2021

Reprinted from The Post Road Review monthly regional magazine

STARS to STEM Donation Honors ELHS alum

Banner of The Post Road Review

Featured in July 2021 issue of Post Road Review

STARS to STEM, Inc, has received a donation to the restoration of the Planetarium at East Lyme High School in honor of Erin Boettcher, daughter of Lynn Tavormina and John Boettcher. Erin, a 2008 graduate of ELHS, had her first astronomy class at the high school and she went on to earn her PhD in astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin. She is currently completing a 3 year post-doctorate in astrophysics at the University of Chicago and will begin a new job at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center this fall.

Donations may be made by mail to STARS to STEM, Inc., P.O. Box 616, Niantic, CT 06357 or online at www.starstostem.org. For more information, contact President Diane Swan at President@starstostem.org.

by Michele Snitkin, STARS to STEM member

Dominion Energy Foundation Awards Grant to
STARS to STEM

June 3, 2021

Banner of The Post Road Review

Featured in July 2021 issue of Post Road Review

Nancy Bulkeley, Dominion Energy, presents grant award check to Sachi Vora, Gillian McMahon, and S2S President Diane Swan.

As the school year wraps up and students are focused on summer and beyond, STARS to STEM has been actively fundraising to restore the hidden gem within East Lyme High School. To date, most donations have come from individuals and businesses via online payments, mailed-in checks, or anonymous cash donations collected at local businesses. More recently, grant awards are helping to boost efforts of restoring the school’s planetarium.


Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to community causes. The Foundation awards grants in four prime areas, including education grants that will "develop the capacity of the future workforce, especially in STEM and energy fields." Nancy Bulkeley, Senior Community Affairs Representative from Dominion, was proud to present the $5,000 grant award to Diane Swan, President of STARS to STEM. “I feel that it is important for students to get educated about STEM and get them interested for future endeavors,” stated Nancy. “Dominion Energy is very focused on giving back to the community. We just believe that we are part of this community and should give back to the community.”


Accompanying Diane were several members of STARS to STEM, including high school student Sachi Vora and college student Gillian McMahon. “I think this is great...another big step forward so one step at a time. That’s kind of been our goal this whole time. So here’s to the great direction, ” remarked Gillian.


“One step closer is all we need, ” echoed Sachi.


Principal of East Lyme High School, Deb Roselli Kelly, applauded the efforts of the organization and commended its members for their steadfast perseverance in fundraising. “I think it’s exciting that the community is getting involved in helping to upgrade what we have in the building. I will like seeing its completion.”


by Karen Urgitis/Advisor

April 2021

Reprinted from The Post Road Review monthly regional magazine

STARS to STEM Receives Donation from the Mitchell Trust

Banner of The Post Road Review

The Mitchell Trust, LLC, which has supported many local causes, has made a donation to STARS to STEM, Inc., a local non-profit corporation which is dedicated to the renovation of the existing planetarium space at East Lyme High School to create a community and regional educational asset.

Currently the space (which has not been operational since 2013) requires restoration and a technology upgrade.

Thanks to community support, private and corporate donations, a third of the cost of a new projector has been accumulated. In addition, grant awards are being sought for the remaining balance. No Board of Education funds or tax dollars will be used.

Donations can be made by mail to STARS to STEM, Inc., P.O. Box 616, Niantic, CT. 06357. Interested parties with questions can email Diane Swan, President of STARS to STEM, Inc., at starstostem@gmail.com. For more information, visit online at www.starstostem.org.


by Michele Snitkin, STARS to STEM member

The Stars are Ours
by Michele Snitkin, STARS to STEM, Inc. Member

Published February 2021 in Niantic Neighbors magazine

Welcome to the first monthly installment of celestial news provided by STARS to STEM, Inc., a local non-profit promoting the restoration of the planetarium at East Lyme High School.


Many people are unaware that there was such a facility - a dedicated room in the high school - up until 2013. With the increasing importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), it is vital to provide as much stimulus to interest in these fields as possible.


One of the most powerful gateways to careers in the sciences is an early fascination with the heavens. Since ancient times the eyes of men and women have been drawn to the skies especially at night. Even today we can look at the stars with naked eyes and find wonder. However, curiosity leads us to seek to order and make sense of what we see. A first grader’s trip to a planetarium provides a roadmap, an astronomy student’s studies may lead to a career choice.


In the upcoming months you will find interesting, inspiring, and informative commentary in this space written by Dr. Leslie F. Brown, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Connecticut College, New London, and a Board member of STARS to STEM. She will guide us in how truly to make the stars our own.


Fundraising for the restoration and technology upgrade of the planetarium space in the high school is ongoing and will depend on private/corporate donations, the work of volunteers, and grant awards. No Board of Education funds or tax dollars will be used for this regional educational asset for all ages.


Donations can be made by mail to: STARS to STEM, Inc. P.O. Box 616, Niantic, CT. 06357. Interested parties with questions can email Diane Swan, President, at president@starstostem.org or visit online at www.starstostem.org.

STARS to STEM President Diane Swan and her family
featured in January 2021 Niantic Neighbors magazine

For all non-profits, reaching out to potential benefactors is critical to the success of an organization. Public relations efforts bring awareness to the overall goal, vision, and mission of the enterprise and support the organization in reaching its goals. With today’s modern technology, information is shared through web sites, social media venues, crowd-sourcing fundraisers, and promotional videos. Not to be forgotten are the tried-and-true measures of print media that can reach many in the community through traditional means.

Such a magazine is Niantic Neighbors, published by Best Version Media. BVM distributes millions of publications every year throughout the United States and Canada. Renowned as one of the most productive and developing companies in traditional print media, the periodical features local families on the front of every cover with an in-depth article to “share their unique story with the community.” A very fitting and noteworthy family featured in the January 2021 edition was STARS to STEM President Diane Swan, her husband Robert, children Lydia and Vincent, and most loyal pet dog, Barley.

The article details the early lives of Diane and her husband as well as her family’s background. It describes the motivating events that led her to a career in teaching with a special interest in science. As a student of East Lyme Schools, Diane was mesmerized by the amazing presentations conducted at the high school’s planetarium, so much so that she wrote letters to NASA and immersed herself in the study of astronomy. Currently a teacher at Niantic Center School, Diane shares her passion with her students. Fittingly, she spearheads a group of community members in STARS to STEM, a non-profit organization she established, with a mission to restore and upgrade the East Lyme High School's existing planetarium space into a 21st century teaching and learning marvel.

Diane believes that leaving a legacy is a big responsibility. “Together we can make a difference in the footprint we leave in this town…for future generations to enjoy.”


by Karen Urgitis/Advisor

Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee - Zoom Meeting with Stars To Stem, Inc.

January 26, 2021 @ 6PM

Attendees:

Board of Ed: :Jeffrey Newton, Eric Bauman, Leigh Gianakos, Chris Lund, Maryanna Stevens

Stars To Stem: Karen Urgitis, Linda Raffa, Mark Princevalle

Jeff Newton opened meeting with self intros of participants and reviewing of statement of purpose for meeting, as was put in tonight’s agenda - holding planetarium room for use by Stars to Stem.

Eric Bauman started discussion by saying that while he felt this was “holistically” a good idea, he was looking for a more detailed update on the progress of the organization. He said he felt a little “disconnect” in explanations and understanding surrounding the topic of the Planetarium. He wanted to know more about where Stars To Stem was in a planning timeline and the financial progress in the achievement of the goals of that timeline.

Karen Urgitis reported that grants, in kind and private donations, along with the pursuit of corporate funding would be assisting in this first phase of planning. She reported we have about another $80,000 of this part left. Due to Covid, Stars To Stem has not been able to have major fundraising events. Linda Raffa added she felt that the “grassroots” type of support Stars To Stem has been receiving from donation jars in business establishments, FaceBook page and Website donations, along with personal donors just mailing in checks was a good sign for continued future support.

Eric Bauman questioned our future timeline and programming expenses.Karen thought it would be around $ 80, 000 yearly. That would most likely be covered by grants, corporate sponsors and fees.

Mr. Bauman asked what timeline were we looking at and he was under the impression we would be charging East Lyme schools to use Planetarium once it’s up and running.

Ms. Urgitis stated that although we plan to be a regional asset, we would probably start slowly with just East Lyme schools, at no charge, and then begin programming for students throughout the region. She felt this was covered at a past meeting.

Mr. Newton asked if there were anymore questions. He stated that if all on committee agreed, he would bring up holding the Planetarium room at the February 8th meeting. After discussion of how long they would hold the room, Mr. Newton said if no objections, he would use the last letter of commitment for one year and just insert the new dates.

Mr Bauman asked that we continue with document updates, along with an updated business plan. Perhaps we could meet again in another six months to check on progression. He also suggested that we might get in touch with Dave Putnum of Parks & Rec for advice and input on how The Miracle League accomplished their goal.

Meeting was adjourned at 6:36 pm.

Linda Raffa, Secretary/Treasurer

Stars To Stem, Inc

P O Box 616 ,

Niantic, CT 06357