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School Administrators Address Start of Wayland Murder Trial

The trial of Nathaniel Fujita, accused of killing fellow Wayland High grad Lauren Astley, begins on Monday, Feb. 11.

Both Wayland Public Schools Superintendent Paul Stein and Wayland High School Principal Pat Tutwiler sent email announcements late this week regarding the impending trial of Nathaniel Fujita.

Fujita, a 2011 Wayland High School graduate, is facing first-degree murder charges related to the death of Lauren Astley, Fujita's ex-girlfriend and fellow graduate.

The text of Stein's announcement is below, and is followed by Tutwiler's announcement:

Dear Parents and Community Members,

As you may know, the trial for the murder of Lauren Astley is scheduled to begin on Monday, February 11. Given the attention to Wayland that this will receive and its closeness to home, I am writing to share with you how we in the schools plan to approach this sensitive matter. As the trial unfolds, this is what we, as a faculty, will be keeping in mind:

  • First, we have to acknowledge that remembering this tragedy and re-imagining Lauren's death will surely not be easy. There are many strong and varied emotions regarding what took place. It may be hard to make sense of it all as community members sort through their thoughts and reactions, as questions arise because of the trial, as witnesses are brought to the stand, and as the media descends. For some, this will be like reliving a trauma, especially those who have had a strong connection to these former students and their families. For others, the trial may feel removed from their thoughts and feelings. Divergent and conflicting opinions will invariably emerge.
  • We, as a faculty, will remain committed to providing students with the comfort in the routine of their normal schedules. At the same time, we will make ourselves available to those who need care or attention. We will maintain the safety of a normal school day, while offering our support and providing clear boundaries.
  • We will channel, although never stifle, students' questions and concerns. For the most part, the classroom may not be the best forum for these questions. Questions can divert a class from its work and, in the process, risk touching off the sensitivities and vulnerabilities of others. It is best to acknowledge that this is a difficult topic and to offer to talk to individual students after class, or to suggest meetings with counselors.

In all, we will remain sensitive and responsive to students' varied needs and provide safety in routines. The trial may raise issues for children, regardless of their age, depending on what they hear and what they have experienced in their lives. I've copied below some advice - sent out all too recently after the tragedy in Newtown - offered to us by Drs. Robert Evans and Mark Kline, the Executive Director and Clinical Director of The Human Relations Service (HRS), Wayland's community mental health agency. They point to how we can help children cope with traumatic events.

Richard Blanco, in his poem written for the recent presidential inaugural ceremony, writes of how we all rise under one sun, one sky: 

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love...

I close with these few lines for three reasons. First, as this trial gets under way, we may well be wondering at the incredulity of it all and, in a sense, guessing at the weather of our lives. Second, the very nature of this trial may give us cause to look around and, as the poem suggests, give thanks for those we love. Third, these lines provide an important reminder of our common humanity, our "one sky." In the days ahead, we know that we will support each other wherever we're at, honor our differences, and remain one as a community.

Tutwiler's announcement:

Lastly, I assume that you received Dr. Stein's Thursday morning E-news concerning the trial next week. Simply put, we intend to provide our students with a normal school day, while being conscious of and responsive to individual students with heightened needs at this time. We are prepared. It behooves me to inform/remind you that there will likely be an increased media presence near campus and around town during the trial. It is not in our purview to say whether or not students may speak to members of the press. However, I strongly encourage you to raise this with your child in an effort to prepare him/her for the possibility, and, if deemed appropriate, how he/she might respond.

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