I am writing to give you some important information as we head into the February break. Our community has struggled for the last several months, as we grappled with the suicide deaths of three of our high school students. We are especially aware that many of our students might be particularly vulnerable right now and may feel the need to talk during the vacation period. As we approach a week-long break we wanted to alert you to a few supports that will be available next week and to share with you some important resources.
The City of Newton in partnership with Newton Public Schools will be offering drop-in groups/office hours next week. Counselors from the Riverside Trauma Center will be on hand to speak with anyone in need, and will share with students and parents strategies to cope with these recent tragedies. These drop-in groups/office hours will occur on:
- Tuesday, February 18th, 1-3pm, Newton South High School, College & Career Center
- Wednesday, February 19th, youth hours 3-5pm, adult hours 5:30-6:30pm, Newton City Hall, Room 209
- Thursday, February 20th, 3-5pm, Newton North High School, Room 103
Our plan is to offer many more of these opportunities for students throughout February and March.
We want to remind you that a video and a summary of the presentations at the recent community forum by Dr. Susan Swick, Chief of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry at Newton Wellesley Hospital and Dr. Larry Berkowitz, Director of Riverside Trauma are available on the front page of the Newton Public Schools website. Both of these experts provided excellent advice for both parents and students.
The handouts from this community forum, which are available at www.newtonma.gov/youth, are an excellent source of information about how to talk about these recent tragedies and outline the myriad supports available to our community. In addition, both high schools gave out cards today that list a variety of resources and contacts in case a student is struggling or worried about a friend. A copy of this card is also included in the handouts referenced above.
Finally, if you are able, we encourage you to open up your doors, living rooms and refrigerators to our Newton teens next week. Many of our students need a safe and supportive place to process these recent tragedies, and you can help provide that space.
Please know that we are committed to communicating frequently about our efforts to support all of our students and families during this difficult time. For example, it is our expectation that within a short period of time we will be announcing the schedule for additional groups and a plan for a suicide prevention program adapted for Newton from an evidence-based program. We will be communicating with you regularly including information about these additional efforts as soon as the schedule is set.
We truly hope that you have a relaxing, safe and rejuvenating break next week. As always, thank you for being our partners in this process, and please let us know if there is anything more we can do to support your family.