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
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)