Dear Community Members,
I had begun writing a light-hearted Christmas message about classic holiday movies when I heard the horrifying news of the events that transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Suddenly nothing was light-hearted as I joined my colleagues, our education community, our nation, and our world, in trying to absorb this unthinkable evil.
The initial news left us in shock and scrambling for more answers, as though some detail might hold comfort. Initial media reports were vague and, in many cases, incorrect. But soon we learned every name and face of the twenty little children and the six brave adults who gave their lives to save their students.
Newtown, Connecticut is 2,765 miles from Pasco and it would take 40 hours to drive there, but as the first funerals begin, the distance seems much shorter. These teachers are our teachers, the principal our principal, these babies our students, children and grandchildren.
We are all struggling to explain the unexplainable. I don’t have a Facebook account, though the District does, and I don’t spend much time online. I do have an active “research team” (my friends and family) who spent a fair amount of time reading comments and posts. There is a tendency when faced with something so overwhelming and inexplicable to find someone or something to blame. The usual suspects turn up at the far extremes of any issue. I suspect, and I believe research proves, that most people are sitting quietly in the middle of many debates longing for some compromise.
One friend said to me, “I guess what surprises me is that people are so quick to turn to hate – always hiding behind the anonymity of a screen name to finger point and name call.” It seems that what we need is an outpouring of love, kindness and compassion. We have all suffered an unspeakable loss and we must offer one another a gracious space to grieve. More importantly we must honor the dead and their families by promoting peace and understanding.
As the President noted, our hearts are broken. Many families are no doubt grappling with how to talk to their children about this tragedy. You can find some tips on dealing at this link. If you feel that your student is overwhelmed and you are having trouble talking to them school counselors are available and ready to help.
On the heels of this tragedy we had to contend with Mother Nature on Monday morning. The wind became such a factor – I mean seriously, the wind blows all the time in Pasco without incident. We appreciate the flexibility and understanding of our families and employees, as well as the efforts of the PUD and District personnel to get the power back on and schools back on track.
Wishing you and your family a joyous holiday season. I hope you have some time to relax and enjoy time with those you love. And a wish for us all: peace on Earth, especially for all children.