Once again, we find ourselves saddened and outraged at news of suffering in communities around the country, including the hate crimes in Pittsburgh and Louisville, the pipe-bomb terrorist attacks, and toxic rhetoric preceding and following these events. For adults, it can be a challenge to process this news in a functional way; for youth, it is even more difficult as they can be especially vulnerable to the messaging they may receive via media. At school, we hope to find a balance of acknowledging how students might be feeling with providing a predictable routine. In addition, we want to provide a space for students to process their experience, ask questions, and feel connected to others who feel impacted.
There are many ways, in our established curriculum, that we teach and learn about human rights and attacks on them as well as the power of activism and compassion. However--in addition to a dialogue and investigation of inequities, genocides, and revolutions in history--there is also a big need for our students to process and understand the events and systems that lead to suffering, hate, and violence in our own communities in the present day, in real time.
In Monday Morning Meeting, we acknowledged that many of our students are aware of recent violence and that troubling events happen in the world that are out of our immediate control. Sra. Charito and Ms. Nisha led us all in a heartfulness practice, aimed at compassion and love. As they introduced that moment of heartfulness, they let students know that we will be re-establishing a group that meets to address current events and students’ responses to them. In addition, we are planning for eighth graders to dedicate some of their Monday project periods to this work. Finally, teachers approach classroom discussions in response to what students bring to them, and so some classes will address events as they emerge. It is our hope that these varied venues will allow those who wish to explore these topics a time and place to do so. If you would like to know more about how we address these topics in class, please feel free to reach out to your students’ teachers. You are also welcome to peruse some of the resources we use regularly, including the Pyramid of Hate and the Universe of Obligation framework.
As kids hear about tragic and violent events, they may have questions and difficult feelings. Should these come up at school or home, it's important to acknowledge the feelings and connect students with support. At school, Ms. Ali and Sra. Charito are available to talk with students as needed. If you are talking with your child at home about tragedy or violence in the news, you might want to use some of these resources:
Talking to Children About Tragedies (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Helping Kids After a Shooting (American School Counselor Association)
Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)
Please let us know if you or your student need any further support. We know that our community's strength lies in in our connections with each other. LWGMS remains steadfast in our commitment that all of our students are cared for, safe, and respected as members of our school community. We remain steadfast in our belief that education and learning about the experiences of others will make a difference in the world. And we remain steadfast in our mission to empower our students, so that they may stand up for those who need it. In our school and in the world, cowardly and heinous acts of violence, intimidation, and terror can not be tolerated. Racism, anti-semitism, and bigotry of any kind can not be tolerated. As Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Peduto said, “We know that we as a society are better than this. We know that hatred will never win out.”