Following the outbreak of fires in Australia, students in our Lower School had questions about the situation and wanted to know how they could help. Teachers and administrators gathered to discuss and share—through a developmentally appropriate lens—how first responders and firefighters were supporting relief efforts. Science Teacher Ben Wildrick spoke to students about Australia’s geography and climate, and how winds can spark fires. Director of Physical Plant Rick Chute, who is also a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of South Berwick, Maine, then talked about the “helpers” who come from all over the world to assist in emergencies.
Fred Rogers, host of the long-running show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” remains known, among many things, for a heartwarming quote reminding people to seek out the good after something bad happens: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
In the spirit of Mr. Rogers’ time-tested advice, Lower School students baked cookies for local Massachusetts firefighters and wrote to Australian firefighters as a way to be Good Neighbors. Last week, students were thrilled to receive a reply from the South Australian Country Fire Service:
We received a package from your school containing many beautiful pictures drawn by your students. On behalf of the Country Fire Service staff and volunteers, I would like to pass on a thank you to all the students who sent us a drawing or who wrote us a lovely message. We have put them up in our front foyer so that all our staff and volunteers can see and enjoy your pictures and read your kind words.
With so much going on in our world today, we may find ourselves at a loss with how to answer questions that arise. This NPR podcast article may be helpful for parents: “What To Say To Kids When The News Is Scary.”