Last Thursday and Friday were difficult days for the Wilton Public School community, after school officials learned of two separate incidents–an image of gun was found on a social media platform linked to Wilton High School, and a swastika was discovered graffiti’d on a boys bathroom in Middlebrook School.
Friday afternoon, Kevin Smith, the superintendent of schools, emailed a letter to parents, guardians and caregivers of Wilton students at all schools. It is reprinted here:
Dear Parents, Guardians and Caregivers:
Yesterday, I learned of two reprehensible incidents. In the early part of the day WHS administrators were alerted to a Snapchat post in which a student displayed a picture of a gun and the phrase “lets have some fun.” The administration immediately contacted the Wilton PD and initiated an investigation. In consultation with the police, the administrators determined that the school day could continue without interruption. Though the post contained no direct threat, the administrative team is taking the incident very seriously and continues their investigation alongside the Wilton police.
At the end of the day, I learned that a drawing of a swastika had been discovered in a boys bathroom at Middlebrook. This morning [MB principal] Ms. Feltz informed me that the parent of the child who drew the swastika came forward. While neither I nor any member of our administration will in any way minimize the impact of this incident, I took some small comfort in learning that the child very clearly did not understand the full meaning of the symbol or the repercussions of drawing it.
These events are extremely alarming, especially coming on the heels of the senseless massacre that occurred on Sunday in Las Vegas. Adding to the concern, locally, in recent weeks we have read reports of vandalism of the Wilton Hindu Manir Temple and of white supremacist flyers being left in Wilton residents’ driveways.
We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that our schools are safe places for all students. The teachers and staff share my sense of concern over these incidents and are continuing their efforts to reinforce the values of tolerance, civility and respect. To be successful, though, requires the commitment of the entire community. I ask you, as parents, as appropriate, to speak with your children about those values we hold most dearly, and how we express those values. My own five children range in age from 12 to 6 and we speak nightly about the importance of including others, standing up to mean behavior, and reporting offensive acts.
Programmatically, the values of community, diversity, tolerance and respect run thickly through our curriculum and are evident in our extracurricular activities. Routinely, students and staff members step forward to lead relief and awareness efforts that not only serve to address immediate needs but also uplift us all by promoting our common humanity.
The events noted above have heightened anxiety for many in our community and further underscore the importance of identifying those bonds that unite us. In the days and weeks ahead, we will not only look forward to actively capitalizing on those moments that unite and celebrate the incredible good inherent in the Wilton community, but continue to strengthen the inclusive practices embedded in our work developing positive school climate.
In that light, please know that we will not allow our schools to be homes to hate.
Kevin J. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools