The following letter was emailed to all families and staff members on the morning of January 7, 2021.
Dear students, staff, families, and community members,
Yesterday I awoke with much hope and optimism as I learned that Raphael Warnock was voted into the United States senate representing Georgia, as the first African American from that state to do so. Later in the afternoon, when I raised my head out of Weston Public Schools, I was dismayed and disturbed by what was happening at the Capitol in Washington D.C. The behavior of the almost all white mob sickened me, and I could not help to think about what would have happened to those that violently rioted and interrupted our democracy yesterday if their skin had been black or brown. If I look at even a very recent history, I must conclude that there would have been many more civilians dead and wounded.
The chaos of the riot in the afternoon juxtaposed with Congress’s orderly certification of the presidential election late last night reminded us all that there is a fine line between the rule of the mob and the rule of law. Our democracy is fragile and needs care. It is the role of the public schools to teach our young citizens about the ideas and institutions put forth by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These include fair elections where every vote counts, checks and balances among the branches of government, freedom of peaceful expression, and the resolution of differences through discourse and debate, not violence. Today, we will be working with children to process yesterday’s events in appropriate ways that fit their age and grade level. First and foremost, we will remind our students that they are safe and cared for. We will condemn the actions of the mob that broke into the Capitol building as illegal and as against the foundational principles of our democracy.
With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening and the political upheaval associated with the presidential transition, these are very troubling times. Both students and adults react to such stressors in a multitude of ways. It is more important than ever that we care for one another, respect each other’s feelings and viewpoints, and look out for those who feel worried and stressed. Our faculty and staff will be keeping a close eye out for signs of anxiety and depression in students these coming weeks, and we ask that you do so as well. Together, here in Weston, we will continue to stick together, look out for one another, and follow our democratic principles as we continue to navigate through uncharted waters.
Here are two resources that you may find helpful in talking with your children about yesterday’s events:
- The first link is to the National Association of School Psychologists’ one-page paper, “How To Talk With Children About Violence – Tips For Parents and Teachers”.
- The second link is to a short article on speaking with kids “When Bad Things Are Happening”.
I remain hopeful for the future of our country and our democracy. Please take care of yourselves and each other.
Dr. Midge Connolly