An open letter from the Wilton High School Student Government.
The hate crime that took place at Middlebrook last week deeply impacted students and staff throughout Wilton’s school community. Events like these are especially malicious and indefensible in that they both threaten the well-being and effective functioning of our schools and damage our reputation. This crime occurred during the height of Wilton High School’s spirit week, which caused my peers and me to spend time thinking about the deep purpose and value of celebrating our identity as Warriors.
It is the expectation of Wilton High School’s Executive Board that writing “Jews will burn” on the locker of an 11-year-old Jewish student will be treated as a crime and handled accordingly. Part of the healing process must include a demonstration by both Middlebrook and district-wide officials that this behavior will be taken extremely seriously. (The administrative response has adopted the necessary tone and has been effective up to this point.)
This crime feels eerily familiar to Wilton High School students and staff. Only a few years ago, the high school removed three swastikas from its halls over the course of a month. It must be noted that the troubling pattern of news-making hate crimes in Wilton over the past few years have been predominantly anti-Semitic; for this reason, it is the responsibility of parents and educators to ensure that all students have a thorough understanding of the history of anti-Semitism and of the Holocaust. A more general discussion of hatefulness is essential and productive, but lacks a necessary precision.
Adults must expect students to resist and refute hate as passionately as possible, and, in turn, students must expect adults to foster an environment where this is achievable. Parents and teachers must spend meaningful time discussing the implications of this crime with their children and students; through this process, we may be able to ascertain how and why such repulsive behavior can recur in an otherwise unified, intelligent, supportive, and compassionate town.
While the well-being of Wilton students always must be our priority, it is crucial to note the incorrigible damage of headlines like, “A Middlebrook Student Found A ‘Jews Will Burn’ Note In Her Locker & It’s Part Of An Alarming Trend.” Defending and maintaining our reputation is not a superficial or trivial undertaking, and it becomes increasingly difficult to do this when our schools habitually make national news for the same reasons. The way others view our town contributes to each of our identities, for better or worse. Let’s ensure that upon hearing “Wilton,” outsiders will think not of hatred or anti-Semitism, but of compassion, community, and success.
Wilton High School’s Executive Board offers its continued assistance in managing, addressing, refuting, and discussing this hate crime in whatever capacity is deemed useful. We stand unapologetically against the dangerous hostility and stupidity that this crime displays and hold firmly that such behavior is antithetical to the values that students cherish deeply. May we channel the anger and pain engendered by this crime into a constructive, collaborative energy that assures such an event will never recur.
President, on behalf of the Wilton High School Executive Board:
Michael Wallace, Co-Vice President
Tor Aronson, Co-Vice President
Rishabh Raniwala, Treasurer
Johnny Maggio, Senior Class President
George Murphy, Junior Class President
Jake Zeyher, Sophomore Class President
Pierce Bazewicz, Freshman Class President
Lydia Hoffman, Communications Chair
Addie Tanzman, Decorations Chair
Eve Ogdon, Social Chair
Ava Kaplan, Coordinating Chair
Elizabeth Yoon, Website Management Chair
Sadie Kinnersley, President’s Assistant