"The last decade has seen a seemingly never ending slew of disasters and crises that, because of the information superhighway, has infiltrated our homes and bombarded our children with intensity and vividness heretofore unknown." The above lines were quoted from a flyer sent home to parents from Weber Middle School dated 9/12/01, the day following the attack destroying the World Trade Center and with the towers, many precious lives.
Telecommunications are so sophisticated that it is difficult to discern fiction from nonfiction until disaster touches home and you are hit with reality. In Port Washington and our nearby neighbors we experienced this disaster with our eyes and saw a changed Manhattan skyline, whiffed the ashes of death and destruction in the air on the day proceeding the tragedy, and experienced and felt sorrow for those who lost loved ones.
In the United States, in the past several years, students and school staff have witnessed and dealt with disasters in their schools, as occurred in Springfield, Oregon in May 1998 and Columbine in Littleton, Colorado in April 1999. In the Port Washington News, dated April 29, 1999 in her column "Parenting," Marion Levine director of the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center, after hearing about the high school shooting in Colorado states, "It would be comforting if I could feel certain about the causes and cures of what has now become the seventh major outburst of high school gun violence in less than two-and-a half years." The article continues with helpful insight into the problem.
When young, many of us follow our whims, not always taking into account the consequences of our actions to ourselves and others. Harm is not always meant, but harm can result in copycat pranks, which have taken place in cities in the United States including pranks in Port Washington. A student is presently serving time in jail for a prank directed at Schreiber in the spring of 2001. Depending on the school district, individuals involved and cases, disciplinary action varies.
Our young absorb the world around them. The world they inherit from us. Their world begins at home and extends into the world of politics, sports and media. As in all generations through time, young people look to leaders and heroes to mentally and spiritually look up to. They observe their world and react. Our children need guidance and need to trust us in order to deal with conflict both internal and external. In order to obtain their trust there cannot be hypocrisy, such as do as I say not as I do. Children must understand that adults are human with strengths and are not without weaknesses, but in order to guide our children we must gain their respect through our actions.
The actions of many following the tragedy of the World Trade Center Towers is worthy of such respect. Heroes among us, firefighters, police, teachers, nurses, doctors, everyday Americans who have been in our country for generations and people who recently arrived. People from all backgrounds helping one another and many risking their lives to help others. These people may or may not be famous or wealthy, but quoting lines from the golden oldies hit, "Baby you got what it takes!" For those who did not survive trying to help others, they are a guiding light for the next generation.
About 11 years ago I was a liaison parent from Port Washington schools attending a group of parents representing other North Shore school districts coming together discussing issues involving children. The group was hosted by the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center. Through that connection I attended a forum at the center. The topic was what role and responsibility should be provided by our schools. Dr. Richard Barry, our former principal of Sousa, also attended the forum. I recall we had a similar gathering held in Port on this topic.
In the late '50s and early '60s our nation was experiencing a cold war. I remember crouching under our desks to prepare in the event of an air attack.
In this decade our schools and public buildings have been under attack. When I recall the forum I attended on the role and responsibility our schools should undertake, I realize the role of schools in the 21st century must emphasize crisis intervention. In our recent crisis, my husband called me from Manhattan and told me what he had just witnessed. Some parents picked up their children from school early. I left my son at school under the responsibility of the Weber staff. I am thankful and believe our school district handled this responsibility well.
Independent letter Weber Middle School Representative
Port Washington Safe and Drug Free Schools Task Force