[OPINION] As Coleytown Moves: Be Adaptable, Flexible, Welcoming

Marcy Sansolo is the administrator of What Up Westport. Usually, she and the 3,000-plus members of her Facebook group share comments and photos about life in Westport. There are notices about upcoming events, observations on life at Whole Foods, and quirky photos.

Marcy is an upbeat, glass-half-full woman. What Up Westport mostly steers clear of controversy.

But as Coleytown Middle School 6th and 7th graders prepare to move today to Bedford Middle School, and 8th graders to Staples High, for about a month — while experts explore whether mold or mold remediation has caused dizziness, nausea, itching and headaches — they’ve faced another issue: pushback from some parents at the host schools, concerned about the impact on their own buildings.

Coleytown Middle School

Marcy did not want to post anything that would fan the flames. But she did not want to downplay the situation either. What she wrote deserves the broadest audience possible. So, with her permission, I’m re-posting it here.

S— happens. Kids who are faced with adversity will become more resilient kids and eventually resilient adults.

This is my free advice, and you don’t have to take it.

If you have a student who is in one of the 3 schools, have them look at this as an adventure.

An opportunity to meet new people, to experience a new setting, to be a host, to help thy neighbor.

Children are incredibly accommodating and figure things out quickly.

They will take their cues from you. You stay positive, understanding, friendly and flexible, and so will they.

For those students who require more emotional or physical support, their support team is there for them.

Have faith in your kids and those making the decisions.

Bedford Middle School 2

Bedford Middle School

Reaction was quick, and largely positive.

“Amen!” one woman wrote. “Kids adjust much more easily than adults. Parents, give your kids the chance to deal with a problem, disappointment, and adversity. Make this a positive and they will be better for it.”

Another noted: “Westport has a history of coming together and making things happen — big and small — from buying the Longshore Club to banning plastic bags in stores. As someone who sells this wonderful town to new residents, I love sharing these stories. This can be one more of them. We control the narrative about how we come together as a community and handle this.”

A third said: “This is one town, these kids are kids, they adjust, they are resilient, they are friends in their swim teams/ basketball/ ballet/theatre, they will be in Staples together, their moms take the same spin classes at the Y. This is ONE town. Let’s just all show love and not scare these kids with our own negativity, because they know better.”

It won’t be easy for the Coleytown students, as they move to a new school (for the 6th graders, their 2nd in a month). It will be hard — but certainly less difficult — for those at Bedford and Staples.

It will be a learning experience for all — staff as well as students. Let’s hope the lessons of welcoming and adaptability are taught everywhere — not just in school.

Staples High School (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

17 responses to “[OPINION] As Coleytown Moves: Be Adaptable, Flexible, Welcoming

  1. Wholeheartedly agree with her, she clearly deserves a “Give a Little Love” chocolate heart

  2. This might be the perfect opportunity to implement a plan that I think would be absolutely fabulous for Westport and bring the town up to area standard …and that is make to Coleytown an intermediate school wth grades 5 and 6 townwide and have Bedford middle serve the entire town with grades 7 and 8. This will be a much better plan for the town and the most fair to the children and parents of our town.

  3. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I guess nobody’s kidding. “Adversity”? Really? Most kids outside of Fairfield County are nowhere near as fortunate and do not have the almost limitless options that Westport kids have. I have always remembered with fondness the “double sessions” to which we were “subjected” in 1967 when renovations to BJHS were being completed and we went to CJHS in the afternoon. Part of the beauty was going water skiing in the AM without missing class. I’d love to hear from classmates who remember this ordeal and how they overcame the trauma.

  4. Back in the mid-60s, Coleytown Jr High had double sessions for one semester or one year when Bedford Jr High students were brought into the school while Bedford was undergoing renovations. I imagine a number of people found it inconvenient at first but people adjusted and, personally, I do not recall it being a problematic year (other than for possibly having to get up even earlier in the morning for what might have been an earlier start time).

    Of course, it should be noted that plenty of Westport kids over the years have had schedules affected in some manner by a variety of school construction projects. One of my friends from another part of town went to I think three different elementary schools—Saugatuck, Hillspoint, and Greens Farms—because of work going on. And he ended up at Yale so the disruptions obviously did not interfere with his academic progress.

  5. Jacque O'Brien

    Bravo Marcy Sansolo and the three parents who replied…well said! Children live what they learn from parents and society. Give them a chance!

  6. Michelle Benner

    I’m wondering if the temporary installation of industrial strength, fuel powered dehumidifiers sited right next to CMS contributed to or caused the dizziness, nausea, itching and headaches as well as reports of the air “feeling heavy”? These kinds of symptoms seem more related to carbon monoxide and gas fumes than the kind of general mold (not black mold) which was identified in Colleen’s report.

  7. Diana Pils Marino

    Yes, kids take their cues from parents. Don’t coddle them .. even more! Coleytown Jr High I went to and we thrived there. Loved it!! I moved to 7 towns by my 13th birthday. So yes, kids are resilient.

  8. Seriously?

  9. Amen Marcy! I agree wholeheartedly. We must step up and be models: positive, welcoming and kind. Westport is good at this. Could be the best adventure we have ever experienced – all together!

  10. Mr. Smith:


  11. Carissa Simon Baker

    I remember when attending Coleytown Jr. High in eighth grade when Bedford Jr. was being remodeled. We went to split sessions, with Coleytown kids attending school early mornings, and Bedford attending our school in the afternoon. We survived, had a blast, and the buildings still stand!!

  12. Temporary double sessions were a way of life in Westport during the Baby Boom years, as the town scrambled to accommodate the wave of kids arriving (by stork or moving van) each year. School buildings seldom opened on time, and doubling up was SOP. I started kindergarten in the Greens Farms building as the new Burr Farms building was not ready until after the Christmas/New Year holiday. Not to mention the Temple Israel Sunday-school classrooms taking in the kids from Weston when their elementary school burned down.

  13. thanks so much for sharing this dan. a highlight of my day was seeing photos of the signs along the bedford driveway welcoming the cms students!

  14. Thanks Dan! It will be a good, learning experience for all involved. For those who question the ‘adversity’ of this, you are right – our kids are very lucky but adversity has to be defined for the kids based on their own experience. It is hard for these kids to be moved out of their school. Certainly not the end of the world and not the worst problem to have but they are kids. Its an unexpected change to what they know and so we, as their parents, have to make it the most positive experience possible. It was great to see the signs going into Bedford today. The CMS kids loved seeing their friends that attend BMS. It might be a little crowded but everyone is working together and doing the best they can. Again, their lives could be worse in so many ways but they are kids. Resilient kids at that!