Wilton reaches out to Newtown; plans are in place for school opening on Monday

First Selectman Bill Brennan and Superintendent of Schools Gary Richards have posted messages to citizens and parents on the town and school websites regarding the tragic school shooting in Newtown.

“The community of Wilton’s hearts, thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors and friends in Newtown. Wilton sadly grieves with all the families who have suffered this unimaginable and tragic loss and we have conveyed our community’s heartfelt condolences to Newtown’s officials and all the citizens of this community. We have also offered every assistance to Newtown during this enormous municipal crisis,” Mr. Brennan said.

“The Wilton Police Department and neighboring towns’ police departments have been assisting Newtown officials by supporting their additional needs for police officers during this period of turmoil and intense global media focus. Town government has also been working closely with Wilton school officials and arrangements have been made to have a police presence at every school in Wilton, including Our Lady of Fatima and Montessori Schools, when schools open on Monday, Dec. 17.

Dr. Richards said in his message he has been in contact with Wilton Police Chief Michael Lombardo and the department’s senior officers.

“We will again have police officers at each of our campuses on Monday, and we will be meeting with Chief Lombardo and Mr. Brennan to review our security measures to determine if there are any additional precautions we need to take at this time,” Dr. Richards said.

“I want to assure you that we have long enjoyed a strong, positive and collaborative working relationship with the Wilton Police Department at every level. As always, our number one priority is the emotional and physical safety of our children and the staff who work with them.”

Wilton High School Principal Robert O’Donnell said when news of the Sandy Hook incident reached the school “we heightened the awareness of our campus supervisors, custodians and security personnel. ... “The administrative team was visible and in heightened alert throughout the school.”

Wilton Police Capt. John Lynch said in an email to Wilton press, “We can’t comment on security specifics. We have worked with school personnel since the first report of the tragic incident in Newtown and continue to work with them to keep our children and residents safe.”

“We will continue our outreach to the Newtown Public Schools by offering assistance to them as they seek to heal their community,” Dr. Richards said.

“Many of us have professional or personal connections with the Newtown schools and community. On behalf of our staff, I want to extend our appreciation for the many kind words and gestures of support that you have offered this past weekend.

Mr. Brennan announced the following efforts to support the families and children of Newtown.

• New, unused teddy bears will be collected for children who attend the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Teddy bears may be dropped off at the homes of Diane Kuczo (52 Erdmann Lane) or Lillian Cook (6 Hunting Ridge Lane). Delivery of the teddy bears will be coordinated with Newtown officials and local agencies.

• Wilton High School’s annual Candlelight Concert on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Clune Center, will be dedicated in loving memory of the victims of the Newtown tragedy.

Each of Wilton’s schools has plans to support students when they return to class on Monday,

Middlebrook School will have a moment of silence and Principal Julia Harris offered the following narrative that she will read to students:

“As we begin our school day, I would ask that you join me in a moment of silence in memory of the students, staff and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“As you sit quietly, please know that you can best honor their memory by showing kindness and caring to all of those around you at Middlebrook — your classmates, your teachers and everyone in our school.

“I want you to know that the adults surrounding you are devoted to making sure that you have a safe and caring place to come to each day.”

Wilton High School will open with an advisory period on Monday to make students aware of support services that will be available in a small, supportive environment, according to Principal O’Donnell.

The school will also have a centrally located crisis center staffed by school counselors, school psychologists and social workers available to students as needed. The school will also offer support to staff members.