The Seabury community has been rocked by the events that took place at an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut last Friday morning. That such a tragedy could take place at an elementary school is unthinkable. We grieve with and for the families and the whole community.
As a school we have experience shepherding our very intuitive and sensitive children through difficult circumstances, whether it be news of floods or famines on TV, tragedies across the country and around the world, or crises among our own community. We have developed practices and procedures that help us support our children as they process whatever the event might be. And each time we find ourselves in the midst of one of these events, I again marvel at our children. Their resilience. Their compassion. Their desire to know and to understand. Today, after starting the day at the lower school by acknowledging that terrible event had taken place and letting kids know who they could talk to if they were worried about it, most students asked whatever questions they had and then went about the rest of their day thinking about the upcoming winter break and the fact that snow is in the weather forecast for the week. Some of our fifth grade students wanted to talk about what we, as a society, could do to provide more help for those with mental illnesses. Several younger students wanted to talk about how sad they thought the families of the victims must be, and have spent much of today making cards, drawing pictures and cutting out snowflakes that we will be sending to Newtown later this week. Their simple expressions of, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and “We are thinking about you,” came from their hearts and from a real desire to do something tangible to ease the pain of those who are hurting.
At Seabury, we do community service projects regularly – we just finished raising money for victims of Hurricane Sandy and for the second year in a row, we were recognized as the school that brought in the most food and money per capita to support the Pierce County Hunger Walk. The vast majority of these service projects are initiated by our children who, when they see a need, want to DO something about it. Community service and leadership development have grown as areas of focus in our program, not only because our students have the capability to lead and serve, but because they demand it. They want to make their world a better place. And so we provide opportunities for them to experience using their gifts to make a difference. Today was no exception.
That’s one of the things I value most about Seabury. We have a tremendous program that we are very proud of, but this is also a place where kids are loved and appreciated for who they are: for their insights, for their quirkiness, for the million and ten questions they NEED to ask every single day, for their sensitivity and their desire to help, and for their leadership. A place where teachers understand the challenge of having the kind of mind that leads you to wonder about things your emotions may not be quite ready to handle yet. This is a place where children are listened to, and when they want to do something to make their world a better place, they are given opportunities to do just that.
I am grateful to be part of this amazing community of teachers, parents, staff, and board members united in our goal of making sure each of our students knows just how valued and appreciated they are each and every day. And I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to be in the lives of our students, who continually teach me new ways of seeing the world, and whose compassion touches my heart. Thank you, parents, for allowing us to be part of your children’s lives. It is a privilege we don’t take lightly.