The following were written by some of the teachers and administrators at Weston High School immediately following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.
by Lisa Wolak, Principal
In 1995, a 27-year-old man detonated a bomb that destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City one spring morning. One hundred and sixty-eight people lost their lives that day, including 19 children under the age of six who attended the first floor daycare center.
That was the same year that many of our seniors were born.
I remember sitting with my daughter Olivia in my lap and kissing her downy head as I sought comfort from her. I was numb because I couldn’t fathom how anyone could deliberately kill innocent children.
As the events of this past Friday unfolded, I remembered that beautiful April day and felt that same anguish. How could those sweet, beautiful children be taken from their parents by such a heinous act? I can’t stop thinking of all that they will miss and the emptiness that their parents, siblings, and relatives will feel. There are the momentous events such as first communions, bar mitzvahs and graduations.
And then there are the everyday things that we all take for granted and that leave an ache in the hearts of those who are left behind to cope. There is no little hand to hold when crossing a parking lot, no need to find the teddy bear so he will go to sleep, no velvet dress to pick out for the holidays and no reason to run to soccer practice. There is no one to play with after school and there are no little arms who will wrap you in a hug. I can’t imagine how this will affect the loved ones in the days, weeks, and years to come.
My heart also aches for all of our students.
We adults remember a different time. Yet, over the course of your short lives, you have witnessed bombings, terrorist acts, and shootings in schools, universities, and movie theaters. You have practiced lock down drills and evacuations until they are routine. And now, you can’t help but ask, “If it can happen in a town like Newtown, will it happen in Weston?”
My response to you is simple. We care for you and will do everything to keep you safe. As principal, I take this responsibility very seriously.
I read something once that resonated with me and I would ask us to think about it as it pertains to how we choose to live our lives. Someone wrote, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. People will never forget how you made them feel.”
Please remember that we are a family here at Weston High School. I ask you to be kind to and take care of one another.
by Stacey Greenberg, Science Teacher
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this happened here, where I live, so close to where I work. My heart goes out to my friends and neighbors who have lost people they loved and cared about; it’s a senseless, horrible tragedy.
There’s another side to all this, though, and that’s the good that comes out of seeing a community come together, people connecting in ways they might not have otherwise, and the hope that humanity can step up and perhaps reprioritize what’s truly important.
We’re clearly capable of causing tremendous pain, but we’re equally capable of making wonderful things happen. It all comes down to where and how we choose to devote our time and energy.
Far better that this never happened — but it did, so now it’s up to all of us to solve the underlying problems, whatever they may be.
by Damian Long, English Teacher
Though I am struck with horror at the way these brave people spent their last minutes on earth, I feel a particular pride in our profession when I hear about the way the best in these educators instinctively emerged in the face of what must have been sheer terror. But the children were involved in a noble pursuit, as well, however cheerfully unaware they may have been of the larger purpose of what they spent their days doing.
That any school, a site of learning and exploration and growth, should be attacked — however randomly — is part of what hurts the soul.
It is my fervent hope that we gather around our sister community of Newtown and help provide what solace we can in their time of unutterable loss; it is also my hope that we begin to examine what we can do as a society to reduce the risks of another mind-numbing day like this one.
by Jean Bennett, Social Studies Teacher
What occurred on Friday is unfathomable and there are no words to explain it. I don’t know what makes an individual so sick that they would commit such an unspeakable act of violence. However, I do know that there are things we need to pay attention to. If not now, when?
We need to pay attention to the crisis of how we care for the mentally ill in this country.
We need to honor the lives of those innocent children and the brave adults who died on Friday by putting an end to the culture of violence and easy access to guns in this country, especially assault weapons.
We need to examine who we are as a nation and what we stand for.
Most of all, we need to be kind to one another and take care of one another. We need to create a safe harbor for our children and rise to the ideals upon which this country was founded.
by Sal LaRusso, Music Teacher
The sadness is palpable. The sense of loss is overwhelming. The tragedy of this past Friday is felt by every one of us, in different ways and from different angles.
As teachers, we are all too often reminded of the need to maintain the distance of a professional student/teacher relationship. And as a teacher, the words of Sandy Hook’s first grade teacher, Kaitlin Roig, spoken to her little ones as they hid in a bathroom, struck a particularly sensitive piece of my soul as she explained after surviving this horrific event, “I told them I loved them. I did not want gunshots to be the last thing they heard.”
I believe that as teachers, all too often, we do not let our students know just how much we care about them and how much we learn from them. I will take every opportunity, for the remainder of my teaching career, to do all I can to ensure that my students know how much I treasure the relationships I have with each and every one of them.