Dear friends,

My heart is breaking over the tragic events in Lewiston last evening. I’m sure we are all struggling to make sense of such a horrible tragedy so close to home. Please join me in keeping the people of Lewiston in your thoughts and prayers. Our hearts go out to the victims and those  who were injured, their families and friends, and others impacted by this traumatic event, including members of our own community. 

Because the person of interest has not been apprehended as of this morning and out of an abundance of caution,  all schools in Westbrook will be closed on Thursday, October 26. There will be no before or after school activities at this time and Central Office will be closed. 

Violence of this nature is difficult for anyone to understand. Children may be especially shaken by this event and may have questions and concerns. I encourage you to talk with your children about their thoughts and feelings and about school safety. Please reassure them that their schools are secure places where they are cared for every day. The Maine Department of Education has provided some suggestions for supporting children:

  • Preschool and early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Concrete examples of safety, like having locked doors and adult supervision, can provide comfort. 

  • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their schools and communities. They may need assistance processing the incident. Discuss efforts of their schools, police, and community to ensure their safety. 

  • Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe communities and schools, communicating any personal safety concerns to parents/guardians/trusted adults, school administrators, and police officers, and accessing support for emotional needs. 

Additionally, online resources from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the National Association of School Psychologists  may be helpful. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988. 

Please reach out to me, your school principals, and student service providers if we can help in supporting your children and your families. Additional police officers will be present at our schools on Thursday as well. We are fortunate to be part of the Westbrook community where we pull together and take care of each other, especially in times of crisis and tragedy. 

Take care, and stay strong.

Peter Lancia

Superintendent of Schools