Dear Francis Wyman Elementary School Community,
The tragedy in Newtown Connecticut is horrific. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire school community as they cope with this unimaginable loss. It is heart wrenching thinking about the families now dealing with the deep despair of the loss of their precious loved ones.
The support of family is what I remember when I think of the tragedies I have experienced in my life time. I was in second grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. It was a scary time. I remember hiding behind a chair and crying as I thought about Caroline and John- John having lost their father. My mother found me, took me by the hand, sat me on her lap and hugged me. She told me that it was normal to feel sad and that I should not feel ashamed of crying. She reassured me that my father was not going to be shot. It was then that I felt secure again and the sadness and fear dissipated.
As a parent I have supported my own children through more tragedies than I ever could have imagined. When they were ages eight and eleven there was Columbine. When they were ten and thirteen they experienced 9/11. Virginia Tech was most difficult for my oldest daughter as she was in her first year of college at the time. Now, as they are in their early twenties, they have seen even more in this one year – the Colorado Cinema shooting, the Oregon Mall shooting, and now Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Through all these events, I have followed my mother’s approach with them as she did for me. I acknowledged that their feelings were normal. I reassured them that they were safe and that the event was unlikely to happen to them or our family. And I hugged them.
On Monday, we will be back at school and we will not initiate discussion of this matter with students. However, should our students need our support we will be ready to provide support in the simplest and most basic ways. We will let our students know that their feelings are normal, that they are safe, and that it is unlikely that an event like this will ever happen to them. We will let them know we have a safety plan and that all the doors are locked. Most importantly we will plan to make Francis Wyman Elementary School a happy, warm, and comforting place so that our precious students feel the collective hug from our entire school community.
Parents should not hesitate to call the school to speak to our guidance counselors or school psychologist as they are ready to provide help and support in any way that they can.
To all of our families, may you find the peace and love that is so desperately needed at this time.