In response to yesterday’s insurrection at the US Capitol, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe said:
As the chief elected officer of Westport, to watch the behavior and the blatant abrogation of responsibility by the Chief Elected Officer of the United States was discouraging and disgusting.
I am embarrassed for our country. Thankfully, as a community, our local elected officials regularly participate in a civil and respectful process that gives me hope and confidence that our democracy can and will survive.
In addition, Superintendent of Schools Tom Scarice wrote to parents:
I watched the events at the Capitol today with utter disbelief and abject sadness. By now I’m sure you’ve read countless comments and reflections about the lawlessness and violent attack on our democracy incited by the reckless behaviors and comments of some of our elected officials, including our sitting President. All I can add to this commentary is my condemnation.
My purpose for addressing the school community is to reassure parents that our team will be ready to receive our students Thursday and serve them in the most professional manner. This is our calling, among the noblest of professions.
Our team is working this evening to make certain that faculty and staff have resources assembled to support their work tomorrow and beyond. Each building principal will meet with faculty and staff to prepare them for the day. Highest among our priorities is to assure each child that they are safe in the school environment.
Each level will work to maintain an age-appropriate approach. The elementary level will not initiate group discussions on this topic but will be responsive to individual students as the need arises. We cannot make assumptions about how parents prefer to approach such topics with our youngest learners. As a result, we will be responsive in nature. If conversations and questions persist, and an elementary teacher needs to briefly address the class, parents will be informed so that they can appropriately follow up with their child.
The middle school level will address the events of the day in their social studies classes, primarily with a civics lens. It is likely that middle school students have encountered a good deal of unfamiliar historical and political language today related to the process of certifying the election, and the manner in which the behaviors at the Capitol have been characterized by the media, and also social media.
Additionally, the natural inquisitive nature of early adolescence typically sparks dialogue about current events. Our social studies teachers are being provided with tools and resources to facilitate discussions while providing context for our students to comprehend the events of the day, and the implications as we move forward. Any student in need of additional intervention will be addressed through our support staff at the middle school level.
The high school level will also address these events in social studies classes. Teachers will facilitate the discussion as students generate the questions. Our high school students are close to voting age. Among the relevant topics for classroom discussions are the process of elections, the constitutional role of Congress in presidential elections, and the idea that the events that transpired today are more about our democracy than politics. Alternative spaces will be provided for students during lunch waves and throughout the day to provide support when needed on an individual basis.
This is an emotional time and there will be a range of strong feelings from anger to sadness and fear. There will also be a great deal of confusion on the part of our students. Our high school community is just beginning to grieve the loss of a beloved classmate and the lingering emotional impact of the pandemic remains. We will aim to validate our students’ feelings and questions, while doing our best to work through some very complex issues.
These strong feelings will be experienced by both students and adults. In my experience, these are the times when the humanity of our work intersects with our professional responsibilities. We are an organization composed of people and we bring all of our strengths and imperfections to our work every day. We will not be perfect, but we will answer the call and bring our professional best to serve your child tomorrow and beyond.