Thank You For A Wonderful Year

Dear Westside Learning Community,

Thank you for another wonderful and productive school year. 

I can’t thank everyone enough for your endless hours of volunteering, chaperoning, reading, organizing, donating and doing whatever was necessary to support students—both at home and at school. 

Special thanks to our PAC who went above and beyond the call of duty to provide whatever was necessary to add to our students’ already rich school experience.

That experience could not occur without the endless energy, skills and devotion of the The Westside Faculty and Staff.  Thanks and well done to an incredible group of professionals.

A final word to The Westside students:  Thank you for all your hard work throughout the school year. We are so honored to be your teachers; you make us proud to be Westsiders. We are grateful for your joy, teamwork and amazing talents.  Best wishes to our graduating class, whom we will miss greatly—please come back and visit. 

Over the summer vacation we will be working to put into place a smooth opening to the new academic year. This includes setting the priorities to build upon the successes of the school so that we can improve still further. We should always seek to do better; to challenge ourselves and our students to set the highest standards and achieve our ambitious goals.

I would like to wish you all the very best for the summer vacation and look forward to welcoming you all back, refreshed, for what will be an exciting, new academic year.

Best regards,

Galyna Volyanska

Principal, The Westside Schools

How to Deal with “13 Reasons Why”

Dear parent/guardian,

Last spring, 13 Reasons Why was released by Netflix and quickly became one of the most viewed series in the streaming media company’s history.

Based on the Jay Asher novel of the same name, the series provocatively covered many heavy topics for young people, including suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse, online and in person bullying, and numerous struggles between friends when these issues are present.

On May 18, Netflix will release Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why, and while the exact content is not being shared by the entertainment company, it will undoubtedly be provocative and graphic and likely cover topics such as suicide, school violence, sexual assault and how one can deal with the aftermath, bullying, and substance abuse. The information below is designed to assist parents and families help their child navigate these incredibly challenging issues.

Sincerely,

Galyna Volyanska

Principal

Recommendations

We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies. They may easily identify with the experiences portrayed and recognize both the intentional and unintentional effects on the central character.

While many youth are resilient and capable of differentiating between a TV drama and real life, engaging in thoughtful conversations with them about the show is vital. Doing so presents an opportunity to help them process the issues addressed, consider the consequences of certain choices, and reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to problems and that help is available.

This is particularly important for adolescents who are isolated, struggling, or vulnerable to suggestive images and storylines. Research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide.

What the series does accurately convey is that there is no single cause of suicide. Indeed, there are likely as many different pathways to suicide as there are suicide deaths. However, the series does not emphasize that common among most suicide deaths is the presence of treatable mental illnesses.

Suicide is not the simple consequence of stressors or coping challenges, but rather, it is most typically a combined result of treatable mental illnesses and overwhelming or intolerable stressors.

Top six viewing Tips

1.
We discourage watching Season 2 among vulnerable and at-risk youth (for example, those living with depression or an anxiety disorder) because of the triggering impact it could have on them. The content could be quite disturbing to them and result in them needing additional care, monitoring, support and/or treatment.

2.
If you do watch the series, make an effort to watch the second season of 13 Reasons Why with your child. We know that this may not always be possible, but doing so provides the opportunity to monitor the impact of each episode on your child and to evaluate whether any of the themes in the series are too overwhelming at present. It also provides the chance to reflect on and discuss content from the series with one another.

3.
If you are not able to watch Season 2 with your child, ask them if they have seen it or not. If they have, be curious about their impressions and open to talking with them about their thoughts and feelings about the content. Make sure they know that they can come to you with any questions or worries about themselves or their friends, and that you will be there to listen and help guide them.

4.
Make sure to check in with your child more than just one time over a couple of weeks after the show is watched. Sometimes it takes a few days before emotions really impact young people, and as they talk with peers about various reactions to the show.

5.
Reassure your child that fiction and reality are not the same thing. Help them understand that what they see and hear on television is not their life, but a story crafted by writers aiming to engage an audience. Even though they might believe that what they have seen feels like their reality, it is critical that you help them understand that the outcomes from the series do not have to be their outcomes.

6.
If you need any resources, please do not hesitate to contact the school. Knowing who you can reach out to for support is a good prevention strategy.



Welcome to A New School Year

September 2018

Dear Parents,

It is with great excitement that I welcome you to a new school year here at Westside.

The beginning of each school year is always an exciting time, as it presents opportunities for new beginnings and fresh starts – new classes, new faces, new expectations, more choices, and often new materials. Your child’s time here is to grow, challenge themselves and enjoy the adventure of deep learning.

Our goal is to help your child develop academically, achieve their creative potential, explore technology, all while encouraging a love for learning. We will strive for building a community where students will be encouraged to display good character and make good choices, while paying particular importance to the core values: Honesty, Effort, Inclusivity, Kindness, Teamwork, and Trust.

The Westside Faculty and Staff is looking forward to a great school year filled with exciting learning activities and experiences for all.

The Westside School will be strengthened by our partnerships with our community and parents. The active participation of students, parents, staff and faculty are essential for our success. I encourage you all to be active in your child’s educational experience and participate in many family activities and learning opportunities that we will offer you throughout the year.

I look forward to a positive school year at The Westside School and I look forward to working with you throughout the school year to provide a productive and safe environment that supports student success.

Sincerely,

Galyna Volyanska

Principal