ROCKPORT — The Rockport Middle School student who was stabbed at school Monday is “on the mend and she’s looking forward to seeing her classmates soon,” according to a letter written by her parents.
The letter was read aloud by Superintendent Rob Liebow during a Tuesday night open forum for parents of children in the school system concerned about the stabbing. The Rockport High School auditorium was around half full Tuesday night for the discussion of the community’s next steps forward following Monday’s incident.
In the letter, the girl’s parents thanked the EMTs and first responders who tended to their daughter. They said they were “blessed” for living in such a caring community during this trying time, and “we ask you extend that to all parties involved (in the incident).”
The girl is recovering in the hospital.
After reading the letter, Liebow opened the floor to parents for questions.
One asked why the parents were notified of the attack after the lockdown was lifted. Another parent commented that she heard about the attack on the local news, which she mentioned was “scary.”
Liebow said the decision was made to stop the spread of false information and get the victim the help she needed as quickly as possible. The attack, he said, wasn’t a safety issue for the rest of the student body; it was a “one-off situation.”
“We knew kids were safe,” he said “and we needed to get (the student) to the place she needed to be.”
The school put out a “stay put” alert immediately after the attack, he said, which only asked for students to stay in their classrooms. There was no need to conduct any “ALICE” procedures, a training program students underwent to respond to crisis situations such as an active shooter. To the students’ credit, Liewbow said “the kids were really good at understanding the situation” while in lockdown.
At times, Liebow refused to go into detail on the incident, citing an order from Salem Juvenile Court to not discuss the case.
Before taking a seat, Liebow said he was grateful to the Rockport Police Department, EMTs and first responders for their promptness and professionalism. He said Resource Officer Phil Wesley was “essential” following the attack and School Nurse Jeanne Pratt was lauded for comforting the victim while she was receiving medical help on site.
Nickey Mullen, a 14-year consultant with Riverside Trauma Center, then fielded questions regarding how parents can talk to their children about traumatic experiences.
“The goal for tonight is to inform parents on how to really comfort and provide a sense of security to their children, families and themselves,” said Mullen, earlier in the day.
At the entrance of the auditorium, information on various local health associations, including North Shore Emergency Services and Cape Ann Pediatricians, were available for parents to take home. Pamphlets on “Talking With Your Children About Highly Stressful Events” and “Reactions to Highly Stressful or Potentially Traumatic Events” were also available.
“Cape Ann has so many resources,” Mullen said. “So many incredible people have been jumping in in the healthiest way to help.”
The meeting was organized in part by Riverside Trauma Center, a state-funded nonprofit based in Needham. According to the center’s website, the organization “is composed of highly-trained, licensed mental health professionals who have expertise in managing acute trauma, sudden or violent death, traumatic grief and other highly stressful events.”
“We do (group discussions like these) around the state,” said Riverside Director Larry Berkowitz in a phone call, “from the Boston Marathon to smaller community incidents.”
Also on hand were state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, the entire Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or email@example.com.