June 5, 2020
Dear Staten Island Technical High School Community,
In the last four months, the impact of a sickness that has devastated our world, nation, homes, and daily lives has become an everyday reality.
Nearly 30 million Americans are now unemployed, which will have very direct effects on our nation, state, city, school, and individual family’s finances. This is a new, sudden and devastating reality.
Now, once again, we are reminded of the inequities that continue to exist and the impact which has been felt by many people in our nation, who feel marginalized in society, magnifying this truth for us all. The horrific images of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery dying in front of our very eyes has been too much to bear. These senseless losses of precious life have reinvigorated a national and global discussion that we as a society and school community must continue to have. Even though the issues of racism have always been present, it is once again front and center in our thoughts and minds in ways that are reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movements of the past. Even through these senseless tragedies, there is a great sense of hope that they will inspire and act as a catalyst for change.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis which has followed, and the social injustice tragedies, happening rapidly in succession, have made us all feel unsafe, unsure, and unraveled. The suffering of the sick during this pandemic has not been viewable on television. The suffering of racism and the lack of kindness and equity is not an abstract concept when it is seen via video in a spectacle of human suffering. It is only natural and necessary for our school family to embrace each other to understand, discuss, and confront the challenges of the past, present and future.
More than ever, our entire school community is in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers. While we are all saddened and devastated by these occurrences, we are also determined and will rise to meet each of these challenges our country is facing at this very moment. We wish we could be live and in-person, to face these challenges together; but until then, we will continue to do so unified, together, remotely.
We as a school community must recognize that systemic racism and violence must be confronted and the first and most powerful step of that process is dialogue. As this week concludes, as a starting point, I am meeting with members of faculty and student leaders who are active in our My Brother's Keeper and My Sister's Keeper Staten Island chapters, as well as the Student Organization, National Honor Society, the Welcome School Climate Student Advisory Board and the True Equality Alliance, in addition to students who have reached out with a passion and a desire to help. Other members and groups within our school community who would like to contribute and participate in future dialogue are welcome and should reach out to Mr. Erlenwein.
Together, the students, faculty and I are working thoughtfully and diligently to create channels of opportunity for members of our school community to come together, share their voice, and be a part of the discussion and actionable steps to ensure that we as a school community are always actively working toward being a place for acceptance, equity, and respect for all. Further information on how you can be a part of our collective next steps is forthcoming. Linked is a message from our Executive Superintendent for District 31, Anthony Lodico, in addition to resources found on the following page, that have been shared by the NYC DOE.
Thinking of you all,
Resources from the NYC DOE:
How to Talk to Your Children About Race and Current Events
- Talking to Kids About Racism, Early and Often (New York Times)
- 31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance (Embracerace)
- Black Lives Matter Still Matters (Teaching Tolerance)
- Talking about Race for Parents & Caregivers (National Museum of African American History & Culture)
- Coming Together, Standing Up to Racism (For your younger siblings, Sesame Street)
- National Constitution Center
Mental Health Resources
These can help address stress and trauma that children and families may be experiencing at this time
- Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Trauma (National Association of School Psychologists)
- Radical Self Care in the Face of Mounting Racial Stress (American Psychological Association)
Free Mental Health Support
- NYC Well For Staff, students and parents
- Call: 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355)
- Text: WELL to 65173
- Live Chat