A Letter from the Head of School – Sandy Hook Tragedy

A Letter from the Head of School

December 17, 2012

Dear St. Andrew’s Families,

On Friday afternoon around 2:00 p.m., I forced myself to leave my office, where I had spent the prior 30 minutes digesting news of the tragedy in Connecticut that morning. Not entirely certain where I wanted to go, I wandered into the Church, where our students in Grades 1, 2, and 3 were rehearsing for this Wednesday’s service of Lessons and Carols.

For the next 10 minutes I watched and listened, transfixed, as our students joyously and earnestly sang songs proclaiming the birth of Jesus and the enduring power of love and compassion for mankind. I could not help but be moved by the juxtaposition of scenes and emotions. Thankfully and remarkably, news of the day’s events had not reached our students, and as the afternoon sun burst through the stained-glass Church windows, I cried for the innocence of St. Andrew’s children and for the innocence lost of the children of Sandy Hook.

As we gather together for the final three school days of 2012, and as our children and faculty make final preparations for Lessons and Carols on Wednesday, no doubt the true meaning of the Christmas and holiday season will resonate deeply for all of us. We would all do well to cast an extra gaze on the tenderness and beauty of our children this week and always, to treasure our time with them over the holiday break and always, and to hug them a bit tighter at bedtime and always, for as we have learned most tragically this year and over the past several years, truly nothing in this life can be taken for granted.

Our colleagues at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) have been most helpful in providing resources to help schools and families counsel and comfort children at times such as these. The first piece of advice, which we are following strictly at the Lecky house, is to minimize and, if possible, eliminate all exposure to the media coverage surrounding Friday’s events. Particularly for our youngest students, there is nothing to be gained from exposure to such inexplicable tragedy.

For our Middle School students, for whom exposure is all but inevitable, it is best to monitor and limit the coverage as much as possible. It is appropriate for parents to engage these students in frank but calm conversations about the tragedy, sharing the sadness of the moment but, above all, assuring these students that they are safe and cared for here in our community.

Finally, rest assured that we at St. Andrew’s will continue to do everything possible to ensure the emotional and physical safety of your children. Coincidentally, we engaged in one of our monthly emergency drills just one day before this tragedy, and we will have another drill early in the New Year. We will pay particular attention to reviewing our Lock-In drills when we return from the holiday.

In the days and weeks to come, please do not hesitate to speak with me, your child’s teachers, and our Administrative Team, especially our Counselor DeeDee Estes, if we can be of any support to you or your children. Please take time to review the resources below, which will help you comfort your child should he or she wish to engage you in a conversation about Friday’s events.

I look forward to seeing you all in Church this Wednesday, when I pray we all take an extra moment to appreciate the sun shining on the faces of our beloved children.


Mason Lecky

Head of School 

Resources about Helping Children Cope with Tragedy

The National Association of School Psychologists — Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

American Psychological Association – Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

American Academy of Pediatrics – Resources to Help Parents, Children and Others Cope in the Aftermath of School Shootings

The National Association of School Psychologists — A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – Children and Grief

Massachusetts General Hospital for Children – Talking To Children About A Shooting

Child Mind Institute – Caring For Kids After A School Shooting