Julian Curtiss School principal Trish McGuire sent an email to parents on Sunday night about the challenge of explaining the opposing views in the news and in the world around them.
Offering links to articles with tips for talking to children about the recent presidential election, McGuire acknowledged that parents are grappling with explaining the election result and how much of their own feelings to share.
She said the issue had spilled over onto the playground at Julian Curtiss.
“I take pause when I receive a report from a parent that reads like the following, ‘Children know there was an election and project who their parents support. In my child’s class 2 children told her that they want to ‘kill the President,'” McGuire wrote.
“I feel quite sure that no reasonable parent wants his or her child stating such an opinion on the school playground,” McGuire continued. “No matter which candidate you supported for president, the news broadcasts may bring up concerns for your child and the children they play with everyday at school.”
The principal said that talk of building walls, deportations, terrorists and instability can be frightening for adults, but can be especially frightening for children.
“We have to acknowledge that this uneasiness is real and it is up to us to help our children though this,” she said.
At Greenwich High School, where the election created an emotionally charged environment, student government leaders created a “Kindness Campaign” with a theme of “Different Ideas, Same Respect.” The campaign’s goal is to heal the politically divided community.
During the campaign season, Peter Sherr, prior to being elevated to Board of Education Chair by the Selectmen, told interim Superintendent Dr. Sal Corda that he had received complaints from parents about teachers sharing their personal political views in class. Superintendent Dr. Sal Corda said he would immediately send a letter to teachers saying that behavior was unacceptable.
During the Jan 18 standing-room-only YWCA “Words Still Matter” event in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, Boys & Girls Club director Bobby Walker said that at the club they were seeing an increase in racial jokes. Like McGuire, Mr. Walker alluded to behavior modeled by parents.
“It’s important to get them to understand that the words they’re using carry a lot of weight,” Walker said.
At the YWCA event, Dr. Corda said the situation at GHS was serious, and that irrespective of which political party the students were interested in, “the kids were not being nice to each other. …And I’m saying that gently,” he added.
Mr. Walker said the Boys & Girls Club is one of the most diverse places in Greenwich, with 350 kids of all different backgrounds, sexual orientations, socio-economic status all under one roof.
Up the hill, at Julian Curtiss, the student body is also diverse. The Title I school was cited for racial imbalance and subsequently transitioned into a magnet school for world languages. At the school’s 2015 UN Day celebration, McGuire noted that 25 years ago the school population represented 28 countries who spoke 16 different languages. In 2015, the students hailed from 63 countries and spoke 30 languages.
“We are international and diverse in character, and our student body includes a cross section of all socioeconomic groups,” McGuire wrote on Sunday about Julian Curtiss, which enrolls 335 students. “We are a school that supports inclusion, acceptance and tolerance.”
McGuire asked parents to help their children stay positive, and talk with them about how to be the kind of people they want to be and ways they can make a difference in the lives of others.
How parents can help disappointed kids cope with the Trump Win
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