August 15, 2017

Dear KLSD Community,

Early this summer, my family and I spent a night in Charlottesville, Virginia. We were driving home from a vacation, and since my son will be a high school junior in just a few weeks, we decided to spend one night in that beautiful college town. It was a quiet town that night. As we wandered through the serene campus, my son trying to picture life as a student there, none of us could have imagined what Charlottesville would soon witness – that just a few weeks later, the Governor of Virginia would declare a state of emergency.

Like families across the country, this week mine is left struggling with questions. How can horrific events like those of this past weekend still take place in our country? What inspires such hatred and bigotry? Why do the lessons of our past not inform and enlighten our present behavior?

As your Superintendent, I think about the school year past and the one about to begin. The summer is always a time for reflection and preparation, and there is always cause for hope as we look to a new school year. At the same time, we remain vigilant. We remind one another that no community is immune to hatred and the work of combatting it is work for us all.

Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, wrote the following to her community this week:

The University supports the First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly. Acts of violence, however, are not protected by the First Amendment. Violence and bigotry are not political positions. We strongly condemn intimidating and abhorrent behavior intended to strike fear and sow division in our community. As a public institution, we value diversity, inclusion and mutual respect. We value an environment in which learning happens.

Here in KLSD, we share President Sullivan’s commitment and the values she espouses. And I’ll borrow a few more words from UVA’s website, “Discussion. Collaboration. Enlightenment. These are the ideals to which Thomas Jefferson aspired when conceiving the University of Virginia.” That last word, enlightenment, strikes me as most relevant, most inspiring today. As an educational institution, we commit to helping our students understand history’s lessons, to become ever more understanding and accepting of one another as we move forward as a community.

Appreciating how hard it can be to have conversation at home at times such as this, I share the following article. I hope it may be helpful to you:

How to Talk to Your Kids About the Violence in Charlottesville

We look forward to welcoming back all our students and staff in just a few weeks. Until then, I hope all can enjoy peaceful summer days.

Andrew Selesnick Superintendent of Schools