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A Message from the Superintendent

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Dear Families,

Thank you for your love, concern, and care. You have been so supportive of those around you and the family of Mila Ruangsuwana. Your countless acts of kindness and expressions of sympathy have been warmly received and are deeply appreciated.

Over the past few days, our Trauma, Illness and Grief (TIG) team, additional counselors, teachers, staff members, and administrators from FRES and throughout the District have been regularly meeting to plan for initial and ongoing support for children the children, staff, and families at FRES and other buildings. I am writing today to keep you informed and to provide information that all members of our school community might find helpful. Dr. Rioux will be sending more specific information to the two classes most directly impacted at FRES. Please make note of the following questions and our best attempt to provide feedback:

When will services take place? Calling hours for Mila Ruangsuawana will be held tomorrow, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Anthony Funeral Home, 2305 Monroe Ave. Additional information can be found at:  https://obits.democratandchronicle.com/obituaries/democratandchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=mila-ruangsuwana&pid=194578840&fhid=13366

What can we do to help? Many people have been so thoughtful and caring. It is important to recognize the importance of balance. Although we all want to help and your expressions of support have been incredibly kind, privacy during this painful moment is important as well. One way you and your family might consider finding this balance is by simply making cards for Mila’s family. If you send them to FRES or drop them off at Central Office (2035 Monroe Ave.) we will make sure the family receives them. We are sure that there will be coordinated opportunities to help going forward and we will make sure that those are clearly communicated.

How should I handle this with my child? We have linked two more documents below that are very easy to use and provide good advice in this regard. Please review and consider having a conversation with your child prior to our return to school on Monday. Your discussion should be based on your child’s developmental level and specific need, but we do know that many students will be discussing this situation in school. It may be helpful if they have your support in that discussion at the outset.

What will be happening on Monday? Students at FRES will be having a discussion in their classrooms prompted by a caring announcement from Dr. Rioux and Ms. O’Neill. Many counselors and additional supports will be on hand. Information and common messaging have been prepared for the staff and they will be meeting prior to the day in order to prepare for their students. A great deal of care has been taken to plan for a variety of circumstances in many classrooms and we have tried to take into account every individual need that we are currently aware of. If you have a specific concern, please reach out to your child’s teacher, counselor or administrator.

What if I need more help? First, please, please, please reach out to your child’s teacher, an administrator or their counselor so that you can be put in touch with the right person to provide the right support for you and your child. Second, we will be hosting parents and caregivers in the Board Room at Central Office between 9:30 and 11 a.m. on Monday if you’d like to stop in and discuss an individual concern or need for more support. Please come there at any time as opposed to popping in at FRES. We’re hoping to allow FRES staff the time and space to focus entirely on students as they return while still supporting the needs of parents.

What else are you doing?

  • We are working closely with Mila, Lily and Evan’s parents to make sure that we are supporting the family along with so many of you as members of the greater Brighton school community.
  • We have made many plans for support to be provided at FRES and in other buildings as needed. These plans will be constantly updated and adjusted based on the needs of children, families, and staff.
  • We are bringing additional staff on board as needed and taking advantage of the local TIG consortium to have additional counselors come to the District.
  • We are working with our constantly supportive town officials and the police department to monitor and support safe passage at the location of the accident as students come to school this week.
  • We are providing additional counseling supports in situations anticipated to be in great need.
  • In order to allow the staff time to adequately prepare and process, the FRES Blue Band, Red Band, Orchestra, and Intramurals are cancelled on Monday morning. Best Buddies will be canceled at FRES on Monday afternoon. The New Family Reception scheduled at FRES on Monday has been canceled and will be rescheduled for some time in the new year.

As parents, caregivers, and educators, we’ve tried to think deeply and thoughtfully about how to best provide support. We’re so grateful for our thinking partners and collaborators, for first responders, for passionate and selfless staff members, and the countless ways that we have been given support by everyone who has become aware of this situation. Above all else, we are grateful for your love and the strength of our community. The children, families, and school staff of Brighton are feeling and will continue to feel the warm embrace of a beautiful community.  

Kevin 

Kevin McGowan, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Resources

Developmental Responses to Grief

Talking with Children

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