At the start of the Jan. 6 Milton School Committee meeting, Chair Sheila Egan Varela requested a moment of silence in response to a mob insurrection earlier that day by pro-Trump extremists at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Plans were underway, committee members learned, to prepare and support teachers for students’ questions that might come their way the next day and beyond and to offer support for teachers’ reactions to the Capitol events as well.

Students, especially those coming of age, will have their own memories of the insurrection as they continue to live their lives. These fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students are forming their views of how the world operates and what their roles in it will be as they age.

Students in Grades 1 through 4 will look to adults and take away the moment-to-moment actions of these people who are important to them to see how their teachers and parents are reacting to the ongoing news.

Younger students may not understand the details of the pre-riot incendiary speech by the lameduck President Trump and its aftermath yet they know something is not right.

Those details continue to evolve, with the president now denying that his speech before the riotous mob that stormed the Capitol with lawmakers in session was inappropriate or responsible for what followed, published reports note. It is unlikely that he will ever accept that more people and electors voted for President-elect Biden than for him.

What should be remembered about Jan. 6 is the most egregious photo that remains in the mind’s eye: an extremist holding a Confederate flag inside the historic building.

The symbol of slavery and states’ rights, that flag symbolizes an evil stain that continues to haunt the nation. More work must be done in Milton and beyond to discuss white supremacy and structural racism. Keep the momentum gained from Milton’s 2020 “Standout against Racism” going strong. Review U.S. history from 1820 to 1920 to better understand how some Supreme Court decisions continue to haunt us over a century later.

– Lisa D. Connell


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