The Illusion of Community

This isn’t a nice post, and it’s not about those who we’ve already lost. It’s about why we’ve lost them and how to keep from losing more. Thank you to the many people who helped me write this for your support and your points/opinions, many of which I pulled from. I hope those of you who do read this, understand where it comes from and why it needed to be said. Nothing can be done about those we’ve lost, but we can prevent losing more.

*UPDATE: I posted this on Facebook but for those of you that are finding this through another means, I’ll comment here, too. I’d like to make something as clear as I possibly can right now: This post was not written as a hate piece against Acton-Boxborough or to bash any particular group of people, including the teachers and counseling staff of AB. I was trying very hard NOT to refer to any specific situations and keep it as general as I could. I recognize that I didn’t do the best job at making that clear in the piece, but I’m a 20 year old college student venting on the internet… I can’t be expected to have the accuracy of the New York Times and the wonderful thing about wordpress is it always lets me go back and edit!!! I never expected anyone other than my friends to even read it let alone for it to blow up the way that it did, but I wanted to thank everyone who read it and messaged me today, and also apologize to anyone who may have misread the post or my intentions. There are quite a few people at AB that I love dearly, and I hope they know who they are (apart from those that I’ve already spoken with today). The fact that SO many people connected with this piece and told me that it was exactly how they felt is a huge sign that something is wrong. I hope you can all see this piece as a whole instead of just the little pieces of it that you may not like or agree with.

Probably most importantly: I cannot stress enough how much this is about loss as a WHOLE and not any specific person. I know with the timing, it may seem like it is about the two most recent losses in particular, but it is not in any way about those people or their experiences, as I do not know their situations and would never make assumptions. This was written through my own eyes about my own experiences and those of my friends.

Advertisements

(Before getting started, I urge you to take a look at this post, which is the one I originally wrote two nights ago about AB’s most recent losses. This post is not about those people, but is written through my own eyes about my own experiences and those of my friends.)

 

I know you’re not supposed to try to place blame in times of loss, it isn’t my first time around ya know.. I don’t think anyone should blame themselves and it isn’t any one individual or group of individuals’ fault, but all of ours. Acton-Boxborough has failed as a community and whether you played a role in that or not, that’s for you to decide. I’m not writing this to call anyone out, but to point out how wronged we have all been by the place that is supposed to be our home. I’m sure I’ve already got some people mad, especially those of you posting about how it’s such a beautiful community and how you’re so thankful to be apart of it, but bear with me because I do have a point to this.

First I’d like to point out that I literally just said “it isn’t my first time around.” I graduated less than three years ago and in that time alone have seen at least eight people in our community die, most of which being just in the past year and not including the (at least) three I saw during my time in high school. These people were my closest friends, my classmates, people I didn’t like and people I never knew, members of what you would call my “community.” In most of these cases, if not all, the cause of these deaths were either some form of overdose or suicide. I know right now I’m just relaying information most of you probably already know but it’s important to remember this. All these people in the same community, most just in the past few months, and all for the same reasons.

Second I’d like to backtrack to those people who are posting about how beautiful of a community Acton is and how it shaped us into who we are and how we should all be so thankful to live in a place that is so warm and welcoming. I will say this: you’re right about one thing. It did shape us into who we are. Unfortunately for a lot of us, instead of shaping us into college-level sports playing superstars it shaped us into suicidal balls of self-hatred who turn to drugs or other forms of self-destruction to cope with how we didn’t turn out as great as the rest of you. Because that is what Acton does to you. It drills into your head that if you’re not academically inclined or some kind of jock, you’re not as important. You’re not as good. You’re not as worthy. We all had different high school experiences, obviously, but if you don’t remember the immense pressure everyone felt junior and senior year to get into a great college and do better on your SATs than the kid who was mean to you in chemistry because you didn’t understand a question, or the girls crying in history class because they got less than a 95% on an exam, or the people that would literally drink during school because they’d just given up so long ago, then you’re lying. Do you remember being called a fat slut every day in junior high and growing up into an anorexic whore? Probably not, but do you remember the girl who did? Probably not, either. I bet you would if she died. Maybe that wasn’t fair. But do you remember going to your counselor and asking for help because your parents wouldn’t listen, and all they would do was call your parents? Do you remember detentions for getting into screaming matches in one of the common areas with someone who did something awful to you? Do you remember the whole main lobby being blocked off frequently and all the ambulances and all the hospitals and all the people who wanted to die? Do you at least remember seeing or hearing about any of this? Probably not.

I’ve said before, it is beautiful how the members of AB come together in times of loss. It’s always nice to see everyone’s kind words, and it’s clear that most of the sadness is genuine. What I can’t understand, though, is where you all were when these people were alive? Why didn’t you have any kind words then? In one case in particular I know no one had heard from or about this person in years, but you all had plenty to say about how great he was once the chance to make a Facebook status popped up. I know most of you people. I know most of you don’t mean it in the way I’m making it sound. I know most of you genuinely care and are deeply saddened by this constant news of death, but that doesn’t change the fact that no one appreciated these people until they were gone. If AB is such a beautiful and warm community, its members should feel welcomed and appreciated while they’re alive. Its members shouldn’t feel like they need to turn to drugs or suicide to feel better. If we had such a strong community, we wouldn’t have lost six members in the last year.

Acton-Boxborough does an excellent job at raising students, but not necessarily humans. It’s great at staying at the top academically but has no problem letting a few kids slip through the cracks. Have any of you noticed, since leaving AB, that other high schools and colleges make it a point to reach out to their students in times of tragedy? All those communities make counseling readily available, while AB stays silent apart from the occasional email to the parents or maybe a Facebook group. Teachers in some schools in the district were specifically instructed not to mention any of the losses from the past few weeks. Kids still in high school have told me that they haven’t had a single teacher say a word about any of it. How are you expected to go into school the next morning after finding out one of your friends killed himself or overdosed on Heroin, and then have everyone act as if nothing happened? How are you supposed to just act like nothing happened? Lucky for you, AB is great at teaching you to shove it all under the rug and keep up with your studies.

I know it’s scary, and parents don’t want to think of their kids as being depressed, and the school has other concerns, too. I know that it’s not a fun topic to discuss and it is different for everyone, but it’s such an easy thing to prevent. It’s so easy to teach people to love themselves if you start right away, if you start in what’s supposed to be their “home.” Obviously not everyone is going to be happy and love themselves, but significantly more people would. High school and college are supposed to be the greatest times of our lives, and there are people who aren’t even living long enough to find out if that’s true. Those of us who are still living are just going day by day and waiting for a text message to see who’s going to be next. People are really scared right now. It’s such a small town and we’ve lost so much, and it seems we only have each other to rely on and most of us don’t even like each other very much. It shouldn’t be that way. Our school and our community should be there as means of support, especially in times like this. Our school and our community should be actively working towards a solution and prevention rather than just brushing it off and moving on with the school year. Finally, I’ll end this incredibly long post filled with run-on sentences and rants and nonsense with this: Those of you who felt at home at AB, I am happy for you. I’m thankful that you’re one less person that feels like these people who have died did, like most of the people I know do. But please remember, a large portion of what you call your community does not feel a part of that community. A large portion of the people you know feel alone, and helpless, and cannot call that place their home. We can’t end depression or suicide, but we certainly can’t do it by ourselves, and Facebook statuses don’t help anyone after they’ve already died. We don’t need to lose anyone else.

Author: Erica Taylor

I generally write under a pseudonym (contact me for more info on that) but my website is currently down for maintenance. So I created this blog to share my tamer, more publicly acceptable pieces (AKA the things that are acceptable for Facebook). *My twitter account that I use for my writing is still up, but is also under a pseudonym. Contact me for more information on that, as well.

94 thoughts on “The Illusion of Community”

  1. …and again today…:-( you brought an important perspective to light through words last month… now, another child lost, 5 weeks later. i don’t know *what*, but this is not supposed to be what kids are walking into and what parents are having to tell our kids… and parents need to back off the pressure, too. it’s not all about the school- it’s a culture and it’s literally tearing this school apart. PS. I have a freshman there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tragedy. And yet the Tiger Moms press on…probably happy that there is one less student competing against their precious little academic robot.

      Like

      1. What a hurtful, racist, insensitive comment. I am saddened to see how people are using these poor boy’s death to attack others and now go as far as making racist comments like this. Let the family grieve. Imagine how they feel when they hear (which they do) the anger and vitriol that has come out in the wake of their sons’ passing. If people have concerns and want change, fine – bring it up at an appropriate time and in a productive place and manner. But instead making outlandish racist comments on social media? That doesn’t help anything – but possibly make you feel better by releasing some of your own pent up anger and prejudice. Shame on you.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m sorry if I’m not being politically correct enough to suit your apparently tender sensitivities. However, much of the character of the AB academic environment is due to the Asian tiger mom approach. While attending one of the well-meaning talks organized by the AB adminstration, the speaker emphasized that the kids will need one to process and grieve. Putting them on a time bound recovery schedule is not appropriate.

          Nonetheless, immediately an Asian couple raised their hands and asked how they could get their son “over it” as soon as possible because much more important SATs and college application deadlines were approaching. That mentality pervades the school system and I believe is contributing to the problem of reinforcing narrow success definitions.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s so hurtful to see that one finds the need to place blame on others in these especially sensitive times. AB is no doubt a stressful and competitive environment but we are built upon values of respect, compassion, and unity. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, to express such a racist, thoughtless comment at this time is in no way benefitting nor supporting the community.

        Like

    2. Hi Julia, I’m creating a portal, supporting teen/college age depression and anxiety with a place to share stories and create action. It’s new. I’m just beginning, but I’m looking for teens/college age and adults to join me. susanreynolds.org

      Like

    3. I’m not sure how I linked to your post, but I’m glad I did. I’m a retired attorney in Virginia who is on the board of a local writing group. I had no idea the basis for your post until I read it. I regret that you’ve experienced so many losses in a short time. It reminds me of being a teen in Queens NY when heroin came into our neighborhood. You have a gift of emoting on paper. Develop it. Use it. phyllisstewart.wordpress.com.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Erica,

    I’ve been out of AB for 5 years now, but I remember going to school every day being terrified that one of my friends would commit suicide. I’m sad that this nightmare is happening now, though I am not surprised. I remember not feeling safe in the community and being terrified to help my friends get the help they needed and get myself the help that I needed at that time. The counselors messed up and so did the police and social services in many cases with my friends. All through high school I struggled with self-injury because I felt that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t getting good enough grades, wasn’t in all honors classes. When my counselor found out that I was struggling with self-harm, he didn’t tell my parents. I was grateful at the time, but looking back it would have been the best thing for me. Then I also remember going to the school psychologist and being blown off for days and days when I needed help because there were so many other kids that she needed to see. This all taught me that my problem wasn’t bad enough and that I wasn’t important. A lot has changed for me and my friends since then, but it wasn’t because of AB.

    Thank you for your post. I hope the school makes the changes the students so desperately need.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Erica. We do not know each other. You were at AB at a very different time than I was but someone just showed me the blog post your wrote and I just wanted to thank you for doing it. Aside from being beautifully written, it hit really close to home and its really comforting (in a very sick way) to know that there are probably a lot more people out there who went through similar experiences then there aren’t. So thanks and please keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there… Tell me about your book!! I’m creating a portal, supporting teen/college age depression and anxiety with a place to share stories and create action. It’s new. I’m just beginning, but I’m looking for teens/college age and adults to join me. susanreynolds.org

      Like

  4. I left AB my senior year of high school to attend Concord-Carlisle. After my first month attending my new high school, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “why did I not make this change sooner?” I was widely hated by students at AB and never understood why. Kids I had never talked to would ostracize me just because of something their friend told them. I can remember 7th grade was when it started. I went to six flags new England with church the summer entering 7th grade and had an awesome time with kids I had never met before from other elementary schools. However, that new friendship was quickly extinguished at the beginning of the school year. I don’t know if something was said to those people or what. All I know is that they didn’t want to talk to me, eat lunch with me, just in general be associated with me. I’m not making this up, I have received countless apologies from people since graduating high school.

    One thing CC does that AB needs to incorporate is challenge day. I cannot express how humbling an experience this day is; it is an entire day dedicated to living life in other people’s shoes. Acton and Concord are such sheltered communities that a reality shock such as this is mandatory. I could feel and see how more sincere and humble the students were because of it.

    All my time at AB I thought there was something wrong with me. When I moved to Concord , I quickly realized that Acton was filled with mostly pretentious pricks. There was nothing wrong with me, the problem laid with the system and mostly parents condoning their child’s unfit behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My deepest sympathy for the families of Acton who have lost their children to suicide. My thoughts and prayers are with you every day.
      Erica, thank you for having the courage to raise an uncomfortable issue that is claiming the lives of our children. The responses to your article raised awareness that the issue is not isolated and there is a significant amount of ignorance in regard to mental illness.
      I am a parent of an AB student who has depression. Many of the responses from the students on this blog echo the same feelings I have heard from my child. G.P.A., SAT scores, and college admission determine the value of your life by the majority of your teachers, admin, peers and families. My child has described the culture at AB as the “Hunger Games” and if you are not the best it is not worth even trying or living. Many will disagree with this characterization but this is my child’s perception along with many other students who have responded to this blog. The issue may not be unique to the town of Acton as JoAnn Campbell artfully weaved into her most recent blog but our community could do a much better job in helping students in need. My experience with the administration and in particular the special education services have been less than accommodating or caring. Although many of the teachers are caring many are not and the admin staff that makes the recommendations for services should be re-evaluated or retrained. The number one priority of the admin staff is not the student based on my numerous interactions over the course of several years. To this point, AB withdrew my student from the school without my permission or knowledge. No discussions and not one phone call from a teacher or admin asking about the health of my child who had been confined to home for many months. The notice was a surprise to me but even more surprising is I heard from another parent who had the same experience. I reached out to the school several times and even reached out to the principal and superintendent who both were too busy to call me back or care about my student. Here is where I want the reader to pause and reflect. What does this tell you about the tone at the top? Budget? School statistics (e.g. drop- out rate, etc.)? Or No child left behind?! I read the principal’s message how AB remains committed to partnering with our families in supporting our students with mental illness and thought Erica’s article could not have been better titled – The Illusion of a Community. Or maybe the withdrawal notice was the partnering? Or not care enough to have a discussion with a parent with a child who is suffering?
      Why have I shared this experience? It should be obvious. I am angry. I refuse to be embarrassed for my anger and nor will I let this community shame me for my feelings as I have hid it too long. Not one teacher, admin or fellow student has reached out to check in with my child this past week yet those same people are posting awareness of suicide, participating in walks and other school events. All commendable efforts but I ask you – have you reached out to someone you haven’t seen in a while? Erica could not have been on more point “I’ve said before, it is beautiful how the members of AB come together in times of loss. It’s always nice to see everyone’s kind words, and it’s clear that most of the sadness is genuine. What I can’t understand, though, is where you all were when these people were alive? Why didn’t you have any kind words then?”
      AB leaders, the form over substance nonsense needs to end before another child loses his/her life. The culture must change starting at the top – you. Step up; recognize there is an issue take responsibility. It’s a shared responsibility. Start with checking in on the families. All children who may be suffering. I know for a fact this has not occurred so please don’t insult me with another lovely message about partnering with families until you actually do. With so many children in the school district I know my situation can’t be unique. I’ll wait for your call. My child waits for your call….a call.

      Like

      1. Full disclosure- I’m a mom of an AB student (freshman on n IEP) and I am an educational advocate. I hope you have a good advocate- kids can’t have placements changed or services removed without parents’ consent or the Bureau of Special Ed Appeals (ie: education court) ordering so. So many parents have kids with similar needs- and having a freshman, I’m getting a dose of the dysfunction of the Acton Special Ed High School system, the past two weeks. Of note, JoAnn, who sounds lovely, is not on the “chain of command” for any emotional disability or special ed issues. It took me emailing her 6 times or so to get a reply back and it was basically “we have a chain of communication- use it, don’t email me” reply. Contact the SEPAC or if you can reply back, feel free to do so and I can connect you to other parents if needed, and professional resources. Acton does not have a collaborative HS for the truly emotionally disabled- it has one for that if your child also has behaviors and the two don’t always go hand in hand. Erica, sorry to respond like this, just want to make sure this mom has support.

        Like

  5. I graduated from AB over 5 years ago and I can relate to a couple of things you said. I was average at academics and didn’t have an athletic bone in my body. I was suicidal & depressed after the combination of AB’s pressure and suffering a huge loss during high school. My teachers, especially my counselor, went above and beyond to help me and make school easier for me. It’s not fair to write such a hateful piece generalizing a community. Now that I live across the country, I’ll give you a little wake up call: there are so many more people in the world that are SO much worse than people in AB and could care less even after someone dies. We were privelaged to grow up in AB and I hope you’ll go out in the world one day and gain some perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What amazes me most – or perhaps disgusts me most? – is the fact that many of these comments preach about “being kind to all”/etc., and yet several of those same people, including Erica Taylor herself, “like” the comments that criticize the grammatical errors in posts or blatantly insult others’ opinions with profanities. What hypocrisy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I completely agree with you. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it can be good to be offered different perspectives from people who see things differently. You don’t need to agree with them, but explain why you disagree don’t just start swearing and insulting them. It seems like this blog caters to one opinion only which makes me a bit sad as I thought this was supposed to be a discussion and you can’t have a discussion unless differing viewpoints are considered. If we want a kind, loving community then we need to start by respecting the fact that people can and do see things differently. Let’s try to be a bit kinder to each other, please.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Charlotte, and Anon, (I hope you both get notifications for this, I don’t really know much about using this website). I just wanted to say that I’ve “liked” every comment that doesn’t insult me, the only ones I don’t “like” are the ones that attack me as a person, not my writing. If you look closer, I respond to a lot of the people who disagree with me and I talk with people on Facebook who openly disagree with me and I listen and respect them. I encourage people to tell me when they disagree with me. I like hearing other perspectives. What I don’t encourage, is doing it in a way that makes me feel like I’m being attacked. Thanks :)

        Like

  7. Just from skimming some of these comments and fully reading some comments I would just like to say that it is VERY clear that everyone has a different experience at AB/high school in general. It’s also important to remember that everyone’s struggle with depression/any other mental illness are also different.

    I mostly wanna point out that for the person who commented saying “kids shouldn’t be killing themselves over grades” that that isn’t fair to say. One thing that may not effect someone so greatly such as grades might be the end of the world for someone else, you don’t know what kind of pressure/anxiety they are dealing with from school. And for the people who say they weren’t bullied that’s great! But maybe one person’s definition of bullying is different from someone else’s….it doesn’t have to always be name calling and shoving into lockers, it could be something as simple as making sarcastic comments to someone during school or constantly saying “hi” to them just to be annoying in class when you KNOW it bothers the person…bullying could also be getting into little arguments with people through social media or staring at someone on purpose for long periods of time. That’s all bullying.

    Anyway, I just wanna say this article is beautifully written because it comes from the heart and let’s others feel as though they aren’t the only ones who feel this way (since clearly a large majority of people agree with this article.) I just thinks it’s SO important for people to realize each and everyone one of us is different! Something that wouldn’t effect your day at all may break someone else’s day/week/month. I really enjoyed this article, and I’m very proud of Erica for having the courage to post this because she said what many people couldn’t find the words to say :)

    p.s if you had a great 4 years at AB/wherever you went to high school consider yourself lucky! (I’m not being sarcastic, I would actually be jealous if I knew someone who had a great time in high school.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 1
    The problem is this is your “first time around” you know because if it weren’t I think you would have handled this post in a more diplomatic way. Before I continue let me just say having been to Acton a few times, I wasn’t lucky enough to go to a school of privilege. The school I went to had gangs real gangs, drugs were sold openly in the hallways, fights broke out on the daily, and most of my teachers were more relieved when that bell rang than we were because they made it through another day without getting a knife pulled on them or watching either an ambulance or the cops take another student away. By the time I was twenty I had twelve people I went to school with pass on, suicide, drug overdose, one kid was killed by a cop, one of my closest friends was murdered by her boyfriend, and yes, a few did commit suicide. In all that mess and from those moments until now never ounce did I feel the need to blame my community or my teachers They did the drugs, they were in the gangs, and they slit their own wrists or put the gun in there own mouths and pulled the trigger. They are responsible for the actions they take to blame others is something highly privilege people do because they can’t even conceive of the idea that they or there friends should be responsible for the actions that they do.
    You really believe that your community is responsible for making you or anyone a Grade A-level student? The community can only give you the tools but you have to be willing to study to take advantage of those tools some people do and some don’t. Just ask yourself would you be were you are now without that community? Without those teachers wanting to make it there life’s duty in aiding the next generation in becoming an active member of society. People in their teens and twenties are going through some weird changes both physically and mentally and how they process the intense emotions are unique to each individual some make it through some don’t. I honestly don’t believe that a community would purposely make a kid a “suicidal goofball”.
    If getting a ninety-five on your tests or being called a fat slut is the worse of your high school experience count your blessings it could have been a lot worse.
    People take each other for granted in life it’s a sad reality get use to it.
    I honestly don’t see how you can blame the community for those who drink, do drugs, or commit suicide unless these people were so inept that they were forced to do it by the community. You’re suggesting that these people had no mind of there own I find that to be the most belittling idea ever. You dishonor them, yourself, and your community.
    Some people always will slip through the cracks this is just another cold reality and you will see this over and over again throughout your life.
    Did you ever think the teachers were being asked not to say something? Did you ever think that they are legal actions that could be taking against them if they say the wrong thing? Did you ever think that they like the rest of your community are just as shocked as you are? Maybe they are waiting for the parents or faculty administration to think of the best way to handle the situation. Or are you just so eager to avoid the mirror you never even gave a thought to the feelings of the rest of the community? Another cold fact about life is yes it does go on no matter what happens it continues. These students, you, need to continue as well everything doesn’t come to a screeching halt every time something tragic happens you carry on. In the real world when someone you love dies you’ll only get three days maybe five if you’re lucky then its back to the grind.
    Again, did you ever think that the community is just as shocked as you are?
    Bottom line is this you are privileged, most likely going to a very nice school that if you were born into any other community getting that top education you wouldn’t be at. You might not like what I wrote but trust me in a few years after you have some life experiences under your belt you’ll look back and know that I am/was right.

    Like

    1. I disagree with most of this comment. Suicide CAN be prevented and if the community and student body at AB were more educated on the subtle signs that a person displays of wanting to commit suicide, then maybe it could have been prevented. Bottom line is that young students should not be killing themselves over not getting perfect grades, getting bullied, or not getting accepted into their top college. I understand where you are coming from at your school, but the school is ultimately responsible for addressing those issues and educating children at a young age about issues. It is sad that AB does not focus on the psychological wellness of their students, instead AB is too worried about students GPA and grades in classes. My condalences goes out to both families. This is a tragic loss for our whole community, and we should all come together to support students at AB. Be kind to everyone, since you never know what they are going through.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m sorry I couldn’t even finish reading this comment. The spelling errors, incorrect grammar, and completely ignorant and outright stupid content made it too painful

      Like

      1. Ok anonymous spelling errors do not matter, however the content does. The content is not stupid, but I know for a fact that you are. Here’s an eye opener for you, spelling errors and incorrect grammar is the same thing! Get over yourself. I sincerely feel sorry for you that you have to pick on others to feel better about yourself.

        Like

        1. Mene’Allah has a perspective worth listening to, whether you agree or disagree.

          Calling the post or the author “stupid”, cursing them out, disregarding the content because it’s not phrased “correctly” etc, is all symptomatic of the problem here. The message seems to be that if you betray any weakness – say, an imperfect command of the language, or a name that indicates outsider status – you are scum and deserve abuse and your opinions are invalid. Only the opinions of AP honors students matter, right?

          It’s elitist and myopic. Shouldn’t we be curious about the perspective of people with different experiences than our own? Shouldn’t we thank them for contributing their perspectives?

          When I left Acton, I gained the perspective that for all its supposed liberalism, it was actually very culturally conservative. Not in the Bible-belt sense, but in its intolerance towards anyone who didn’t fit into one of the acceptable categories.

          All that said, I think I disagree with the poster here. The community and society at large have a big part to play in the choices kids make. How could it not? If you grow up in a community where gun violence is rampant, that’s going to affect you differently than if you grow up in a “safer” community like Acton, or Denmark for that matter.

          I don’t think anyone is saying that kids in Acton have it as bad as kids in inner city Chicago (for example) who literally have to fear for their lives when they walk to school. Those kids deserve far better. But there’s room to criticize what happens in a privileged community even while understanding that some other people are worse off.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. I went through the AB system and had a great experience. I have nothing but gratitude for the faculty and staff. I am sorry for the loss you are feeling but the AB you are describing is not the AB I know. Yes, AB is high pressure (useful preparation for the real world!), and I’m sure more could be done for students who are struggling with drugs, depression, and other issues, but I don’t think it’s fair to blame AB for the terrible and heart-breaking choices of several students.

    Like

  10. I’m sorry to hear that Acton is still the alienating place that I remember it to be. It sounds like not much has changed.

    I spent the first 18 years of my life in Acton. After I left, I never went back except for the occasional visits. It never felt like home to me. As a result, I don’t feel like I’m really from anywhere.

    My family were non-religious Jews from NYC who were looking for a bucolic place to raise their children. They were all about the life of the mind, and so I never wore the “right” clothes and I wasn’t good at sports. I was bookish and I didn’t look like everyone else. As a result, I was constantly made fun of and bullied. Constantly. Violently. Teachers turned a blind eye or actually encouraged the abuse, and when I did try to defend myself I would usually get in trouble.

    I was in honors classes in large part to get away from the bullies, even in subjects I wasn’t particularly good at.

    We were all put into boxes, both by the teachers and we did it to ourselves. You were either a jock, a brain, a spazz or maybe a burnout. There weren’t any kids in Acton, just members of categories. I did think about suicide a lot. Perhaps if I hadn’t discovered a passion for computers I might have acted on it.

    Now I live in a small Northern California town. It’s superficially like Acton but totally different as a community. My six year old boy goes to a school where the teachers are trained on how to prevent bullying, and his report card began “Micah is a kind-hearted and inquisitive child.”

    Just think about that – a school praising a child not for being great at sports, or great at math but for being “kind-hearted”. This is how the world should be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, but your childhood shaped who you are today, and influenced you to become a kind person and a great Dad. It’s amazing how hardships growing up can groom you to guide your children in such a positive nurturing way. Everyone has their own unique hardships during high school years/teenage years. It’s cliche but true…everything happens for a reason. Take the positives from your experience at AB to help shape who you are, and take the negatives to strengthen your sense of self as well as shine positivity on others. Glad to hear your son has found such a caring environment. All the best.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Jill, but honestly, it’s hard for me to feel grateful for the hard lessons even if I’ve managed to get some value out of it. It’s also something that I am still healing from over three decades later.

        BTW, this morning I was volunteering at my kid’s classroom and I was helping two kids who were paired up and doing a math game together. I noticed that one of the kids was really having trouble with the exercise, so I whispered to the other kid that “I think he could use some extra help.” Her response to that was beautiful – she immediately began to try to help him with the problems.

        Not to say that competition is always bad, but we don’t always have to force our kids to compete. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to shift kids from trying to outdo each other to working together and it’s just better for everyone.

        Imagine a country of adults who want to see each other succeed instead of tear each other down.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Scott, I believe that I went to school with you from Kindergarten to 12th grade. And I can back up your story. You were never treaty nicely, and I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry that you thought about suicide. I don’t remember that I ever had fun at your expense, but if I did I apologize for that as well. Kids can be mean. I don’t remember that you ever had a mean bone in your body. I just remember you getting through each day, one day at a time. I am glad to hear that you have found happiness in being a father, and obviously if your son is being praised for being kind-hearted and inquisitive, then the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I called you once (many, many years ago) on June 4th to with you a happy birthday, I dont’ know why I remember that now but I hope it made you smile.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Sorry, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. This girl is definitely entitled to her opinion and I respect that, but I feel that each generation that graduates from AB moves further and further away from taking responsibility for their own actions. Certainly social media plays a part in it, however I feel that kids these days are expected to approach an adult to fix their problems instead of learning how to do deal with them on their own and learn and grow from adversities in their life. And bullying…yes I’m about to make some ppl angry with this one…but whatever happened to hashing it out in the cafeteria and dealing with it head on? Not running to a teacher to deal with it. I was bullied for sure and I’m sure I wasn’t the nicest to my peers at times. Everyone, no excuses can stand up for themselves, or learn how to find a voice and stand up. Running to someone else to fix your problems is not how life works. Every high school kid at AB had a choice that’s theirs to make. No one can make it for them. I graduated in 2000 and our class lost 2 students back to back. We came together and grieved together, we became extremely close, and the faculty was amazing through it all. And yes I’m the 2 sport college athlete who scored average B’s. But I went through a hell of a lot growing up and I make zero excuses. The whole town watched my Dad go to jail for a white collar crime and I had to pay for lunch with food stamps and watch as our family friends turned their carts in the grocery store as to avoid my mother and I. I didn’t turn to drugs and cutting and blaming anyone for it. I channeled my hardships with positivity, I treated people with kindness…and when I didn’t I learned from it and ended up apologizing…even if it was years later. It’s all part of growing up. The problem with generations today is that they are so wrapped up with Instagram and Twitter and all things that in the big picture are so meaningless. Get outside, get dirty, reach out to someone you normally wouldn’t consider “your type”, be confident with who you are and how being seen as different is pretty rad. It’s really up to you and your fellow classmates to support one another and build one another up. Not the staff. They give 110%, and 99% of the time every kid and every parent thinks their kid is more entitled than the other. Everyone is cared for and valued equally by staff, it’s the students responsibility to do the same for one another.

    Like

    1. Jill, you graduated with one of my kids. I agree with what you said. I am sure there are and were then some extreme cases where kids needed help and guidance with problems and issues. But this kind of stuff, the pressure and even the bullying, went on even in the olden days when I was in school. Young people, with guidance from parents, therapists, or whomever, need to learn to cope, find their own strengths, and like themselves for who they are. We all are good at something. People, even some adults I know, should stop worrying about what others think of them. It is hard to be happy if you are always looking to compare yourself to others or be someone you are not.

      Like

  12. I would like to begin off by saying that I didn’t go to Junior High or High School in Acton, but I did go to elementary school in the district. I would also like to apologize for my english since It´s been a while since I´ve actually written anything using the language itself.
    As I saw in previous comments the kids from Acton are fed with a “silver spoon”, I came from a more humble family and that made me feel different and left so left out from others. At a young age being from a family of immagrints I already knew I would never make it to college in the US and If I ever had the opportunity to it would certainly not be and Ivy Legue school.
    I was held in special education because I had a certain learning disorder, I couldn´t keep up with other students, and my classmates made sure to reminde me that I couldn´t learn like them. At at a young age I felt the preasure to try and compete with the other kids and before I was in “junior high” I started feeling anxioty and was on the verge of depression.
    I saw how my older “friends” from High School struggle to get into good schools so they wouldn´t disappoint parents or the school system. I knew people who would go to sleep at dawn just to get homework done or study from some test. Try to get into the higher classes to get credit for college.
    I cant stress enough how much studing in Acton helped me get where I am today, the acadmics are great there is no lies to that, but they need to start treating their students with more humanity, just a little bit more of compation and empathy would go a long way for a lot of students, not only the staff (they are not to be blamed exclusively) but the community as a whole.
    When I moved out of the country and I was able to have a completly diferent acadamic life, one that was far far from being AB. The teachers and faculty cared about students, even the smalled difficulty was noted, I have had an episode where a teacher would tell us she is having a bad day, and we would do everything to make it better for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I must respectfully disagree with the majority of this piece.

    I graduated from AB 7 years ago. I was neither a “jock” (never did make it to varsity lacrosse), nor was I an honor student, but I had friends and teachers who made the struggles of puberty and beyond far easier on me. Make no mistake—I had my struggles. Anxiety and depression had been plaguing me long before freshman year. My eating disorder crept up on me in my junior year, right as the pressure to find out where I was going to college and what I was going to do with my life peaked. Did I feel inadequate at times? Yes. Did I feel like I didn’t matter? Sometimes. But was it mostly in my head, a product of my disorders and my perfectionism, combined with the fact that very few teenagers on Earth can say with certainty who they are and what they want to do for the rest of their lives? I’d say that has something to do with it. My point is, the problem is not Acton Boxborough. The system, or rather the expected pattern of students after graduating primary school, is flawed. There should absolutely be more of a “room for all” philosophy among high school educators. Responsibility also lies in the hands of parents—for example, if a child is not succeeding academically, but has skills that could lead them into a lucrative trade, the parents could discuss the option of tech schools. I know more than one AB student who switched gears halfway through high school, and instead went to Minuteman. There was no negative light shone upon these students. AB’s main concern is to develop children into able, responsible adults. Obviously, being a member of a team and being a hardworking student translate to desireable qualities as an adult. However, your claims that only the jocks and honor students had a chance are really pushing it. Such claims could literally be applied to any school in any middle class town with a solid school system. Not to mention—the bit that irks me the most about this article—is that these pressures do not push kids to take their own lives. Deep-rooted, tormenting mental issues do. Does bullying and the pressures of high school amplify this? Of course. Other kids can be horrifically cruel, and the ominous threat of the future can weigh heavily on any teen’s mind. But the blame does not always lie on the school; how can it? Take a bullied student, for example. If a teacher does not know what’s going on, how can they intervene? If the parents don’t know, how can they come to their child’s aid? And if they do know—why are they not in therapy/still at the school/suffering alone?

    You mention that high school and college are meant to be “the greatest time of our lives;” I beg to differ. Now that I am done with both, my real life is beginning. I have walked right off the path that was set out for me, but I have no resentment toward those who laid the bricks. Growing up is the hardest thing we have to do. In grade school, confusion and mental anguish is an epidemic. In college, I suffered even more heartbreak, betrayal, self-loathing, and so on. However, I learned many crucial life lessons along the way. I can thank my parents and my primary education for laying a foundation for me to find out who I am, what I want, and how to find my place in the world. Did I become who “they wanted” me to be? Absolutely not. But can you honestly say that AB did nothing for you? How do you imagine students feel in public city schools, where the resources are laughable and the ciriculums are far below where they should be? Would you be content to be reading at a 3rd grade level at 20 years old?

    Maybe as you meet more people from towns similar to Acton, you will see that there are stories just like yours from every corner. No one is pefect, and I am more than sure that some professionals at AB as well as some parents and other members of the community could use some continuing education on treating young people and students with respect and the utmost empathy when they are struggling. However, to point the finger at an entire town, filled to the brim with many kind and loving people, including those who have lost their children? That’s just not logical, sensical, or fair.

    It is an undescribable tradgedy to have lost these young people. Nothing I’m saying is meant to take away from that. I just want you to look at the big picture: mental illness carries a stigma to this day. Suicide especially is a difficult topic for the general public to wrap their head around. Let’s strive to inform, educate, and rehablilitate. Let’s address the cause, not the symptom. I’m on your team, all the way.

    Like

  14. I use to get me fun off a lot and bullied i did not have lot of friends and tbh I hated ab and I know students and kids that prob felt the same way struggling on to get through another day I resorted to drugs and fell out of the system in this town it is everywhere but being the “weird kid” it’s Def has a built in society to put others above u because quote on quote are better than you then the rest of us are alone killing ourselfs lost and confused getting involved with shady people committing crimes while all the rest of u are at college or have good Jobs some of us struggle to find work or even the confidence to do anything its not fair and I the issue needs to be addressed also if it is still a problem the bullying issue that’s what drives people to madness…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This article is amazing… Coming from someone who when to a trash school for the first two years of HS (Leominster), AB was the biggest ray of sunshine, but honestly, Acton kids are fed with a silver spoon, and when they actually need to do something, it ends up turning into the apocalypse for them. As a community, in Acton, its acceptable for a 16 yr old to be driving a Mercedes, and to act superior and not be responsible for a thing…But god-forbid when said child isn’t treated as a superior, its the end of the world, lets medicate them. Give me a break… fake medicated prozac-generation is real. I had a student a couple years younger die in my Sr. year, while in the shower, so please dont mistake my apathy for callousness.

    I have 2 younger siblings who went/go to AB (18 and 19 yr age difference) and the difference in how they’re treated in that school is astonishing. My brother was severely bullied to the point a anti-FB page was made, an urban dictionary term was coined, and he was followed while practicing driving with his father…. my other sibling on the other hand who is transgender has had no bullying at all!

    I will say this… I had some of the best teachers at AB and met some of the greatest people.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m not a mom and I don’t live in Acton anymore, but I did come up through the school system and remember one period in particular when three kids died within a month. At that time it wasn’t common at all – the first death was a total shock to the entire school. The student wasn’t an AB student, but he was well-known and well-liked by AB kids and had hung himself over an academic issue. Shortly after that, another non-AB student killed themselves. The school went all-out during this time, giving time off and creating open hours for the counseling center, pulling student counselors in to make them available to anyone who didn’t want to talk to an adult. Kids were coming into the counseling center and the common just to read or take a break. And then a third student died, this time through a car accident. Altogether, the school operated on a different schedule for a month to try to handle this unprecedented pattern (which since has become a lot more common).

    The only reason I bring this up is that the school hasn’t had a single, cold-hearted response to suicide or trauma in the student body and stuck to it for years. The way they handle it today is probably the latest evolution of trying to balance a lot of different requirements: privacy for the family, consideration for students, trying to avoid a suicide trend (which happens pretty frequently with teen suicides and communities). There are also likely a lot of channels you’re not aware of, where someone particularly affected can approach a teacher and explain circumstances and get more help. It’s a balancing act with kids’ wellbeing in play. It’s also got the relatively new element of the New England heroin epidemic, which is an entirely different nightmare. Teaching to the test can’t be helping much either, as some of my most enjoyable AB classes included quirky things that would never be allowed in a national curriculum.

    I was one of the kids who did well in AB’s environment. I didn’t experience any mean girls, I was able to easily switch from group to group, and I could keep up academically and in sports. My own experience is the only one I can point to, but I’m also very aware that others were negatively affected by the academic expectation and general life expectation. But if, as it sounds, there’s a core of AB students who feel so bad about their experience there that it’s impacting their post-AB lives, then clearly there’s work to be done there.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. It took a lot of courage to post this and I applaud you for that. I hope the adults in AB are able to avoid a defensive reaction and really do some soul searching and open their minds to your thoughtful commentary and the comments of others in reaction to this. From an outsider’s perspective, we’ve made friends with people in all our surrounding communities with one exception, Acton. The insular, hyper-competitive environment is clear whether playing an Acton team at Teamworks or even just shopping in town. I’ve experienced base rudeness and demeaning attitude many times while in Acton and have always been grateful that’s not where we chose to live. Other towns around seem warm and friendly when you visit them but Acton has always seemed cold and aloof at best. If that’s the price of being the top rated school, I’ll pass. People will attack this post but like yours, I’m simply sharing real impressions and experiences. People can tell you how wrong you are to feel a certain way but that doesn’t change the reality of how you feel or how you came to feel that way. I hope for healing for your town.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Erica, the variety of reactions show that you highlighted an important issue in an articulate way. Thank you. I’m going to take selfish advantage of this forum to share some thoughts.
    When it came time for my young family to choose a town I reviewed the objective data: housing prices, SAT scores, academic awards, sports teams, and “quality of life” rankings. You run those numbers and AB is inevitably at the top of the list.
    However, the resulting experience exposes the flaws. There are so many more important qualitative compatibility factors that make a town a true community. Acton Boxborough tries to put up a facade as small, friendly, picture- perfect New England town, but in reality it’s every family for themselves.
    I don’t necessarily blame the school personnel
    since they are just providing what their customers (aka the pushy “tiger moms”‘and sports-obsessed dads) want: unrelenting academic pressure and banners with state championships. That’s all great, and we should all strive for and respect excellence. However, that is a rather narrow definition.
    High school students are NOT adults. They are in the process of figuring out who in the heck they are and what they want to do. The AB schools think they facilitate this process and pay it lip service. However, if a student’s passions are not purely academic or athletic they are automatically second or third class citizens, so to speak. Forcing high school KIDS into a cookie cutter at such a young age has far reaching consequences. In addition to the tragic loss of a senior class member, a 2014 AB graduate committed suicide a couple of days ago at college. He was a neighbor and I know for a fact that our fine school system affected him. Yes, there were underlying issues, but the constant pressure and the passive-aggressive mental bullying typical of AB high-achieving students beat him down.
    I was in the military and am no stranger to tough indoctrination; however, in basic training they break you down and then carefully build you back up to a high performing TEAM. AB just breaks you down.
    Clearly, many in our community are affected by this loss. However, I also sadly believe that many of those tiger moms really don’t care what happened – in fact they might even be happy since there is one less student competing with their precious little academic automaton. I’d like to think not, but….
    In any case, it is great to have high standards, but those high standards should also accommodate a wider range of interests and capabilities.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Well written. AB has always been that way. I am from the class of ’89. My senior year I left AB to go to school in Utah. Everything you wrote about was true then too. I struggled in classes, dealt with mean girls that wrecked me and found comfort in drugs and alcohol and partying. I was never going to be the student athlete who was a stand out or my GPA that would get me on the teacher and staffs good list. My guidance counselor told me I would never go to college and I should look at a trade,like that is a bad thing? Typical AB thinking .
    I left in ’88 for Utah to a ski school because that is all I thought I was good at. I came back to graduate with my class but was told I didn’t have enough gym credits. Um, I went to a freaking Ski school, 5 hours a day I trained. They wouldn’t even let me walk. I watched all my friends since 1st grade cross the stage with was brutal. Go my diploma in the mail.
    I am now a Director of Student Services at a college in San Diego and woul love to find my guidance counselor to chat with her to let her know how she effected my life and not in a good way.
    Yes, Acton is super competitive and the schools need to be aware of everything you wrote, but living in a few places like Acton this is happening there too. It is the dysfunction of our community and our families. Families need to take responsibility too. Parents expect the teachers and school’s to raise their kids and then blame the school when things go south.
    The world is just getting crazier and we need to step up and support one another in positive face to face ways.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was a student at AB and a parent of a student. My son’s guidance counselor suggested to him that “high school isn’t for everybody” & perhaps he would be better off leaving school. Glad you were able to leave AB behind, so to speak, and go on to a successful career!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Erica I thought this was a really excellent piece, as many others have shown that the ideas you touched upon resonate with them. One thing I would like to note that I feel like may have been overlooked is the achieving students at AB. As you said, AB is a very good place to be a high achieving student or athlete. These kids are respected throughout the community. This does not mean that these kids are happy or mentally healthy. I believe the problem extends beyond the kids who don’t have the highest GPA or aren’t athletes. I personally know a couple student athletes and academically inclined students who have also suffered from severe depression and even attempted suicide. These students should not be forgotten when having these important conversations. Just because someone has a 4.0 GPA, or is a tri-varsity athlete, does not not mean they are mentally well.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. An incredibly frustrating blog entry to read – not only because I understand the pressures that students face at AB and my heart is broken at what has happened this week, but because I feel that your entry leaves out too much and then tries to sweep overgeneralized comments under the rug with the disclaimer that “I know you’re not supposed to try to place blame in times of loss, it isn’t my first time around ya know.. I don’t think anyone should blame themselves and it isn’t any one individual or group of individuals’ fault, but all of ours. Acton-Boxborough has failed as a community and whether you played a role in that or not, that’s for you to decide. ” And yet placing blame on an entire community – particularly the teachers and administration at AB – is exactly what you did.

    Teachers at AB walk an incredibly fine line between pushing students to excel academically and maintaining a comfortable environment where students can feel free to be themselves. Do you know how many teachers I saw crying this week? Do you know how many expressed their grief with students? Do you know that they are under completely reasonable obligations to respect the privacy of the families involved and to make scripted statements to students to ensure that privacy? Do you know that teachers wear 10,000 hats all in the same day? Do you know that yes, while some may be callous and continue to assign work – that a great number are empathetic adults who are willing to listen if you can’t handle an assignment given a traumatic week? Do you know that parents are – for the most part in society at large (not just within the AB community) – no longer held mostly responsible for raising their children to be “humans”?

    There is grief throughout AB. I see it and feel it. My heart goes out to the family members and friends of the individual involved. I could write more but I’m too upset and disheartened by the blog entry and comments posted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Frankly, I have no patience for the knee-jerk defensive reaction by or on behalf of AB school personnel. Of course they are not solely to “blame” but the fact is that this student (a minor) was in their care for ~35-40 hours a week means that they must accept some responsibility for his well-being.
      As I mentioned in my post above, there is an imbalance on how our town (it’s not friendly enough to call a community, sorry) measures and respects achievement. And the consequences are all around us. I don’t know the specific circumstances of the recent young man, but clearly the scholastic environment was a factor based on all of the posts below.
      AB – the first step to solving a problem is recognizing you have one….

      Liked by 2 people

  22. First, I’m a mom, not a student. I’m not the pushy mom people reference in the comments. I’m a mom with a freshman at AB and who works as a special ed advocate with many kids with depression and other emotional disabilities. You piece is indeed very well written and in the 3 weeks my child has been at AB, I’ve seen the tremendous pressure. It took moving heaven and earth to get a teacher switched after she made fun of the wellness initiative on the first day of school. saying “it’s no excuse”. The counselors are over worked, maybe underpaid, and don’t have the time (unless there is technology to split themselves in half) to deal with the emotional issues kids come into AB with, or develop while there. The problem starts at the Jr. High with the expectation every kid should be in the highest classes, do 7 extra curricular sports, and get into an Ivy League school. The pressure=ridiculous. I appreciate your writing even more because my other child attends a different public high school (hello, divorce) and the culture is SO different where they attend. It’s about being a happy and engaged learner, with the focus on HAPPY. It’s not 1st in the state, it’s like 40th, but the kids and teachers want well-rounded and rested kids, not stressed out and doing too much kids. My youngest sleeps maybe 4 hours/night now., with 6 core classes they said she had to take if she wants to go to college. They recommended a higher level than she is emotionally capable of- and she wants to please her teachers. And apparently it’s all about the GPA. With my older child, she’s in a combination of classes, does not have a disability, and has a school community which she may not always love, but which I appreciate for its balanced view on learning. I don’t want my AB freshman to crash and burn- she doesn’t know the student, but is upset. She should be…. she doesn’t know why he was depressed but she knows she has signs of depression and is anxious. I don’t want her to be yet another statistic. Some staff get it- others don’t. She found the scripted 2nd period teacher read announcement inadequate and impersonal. No one could take even a moment of silence, forget part of a day to access counseling. Yet the message is “let’s come together” without addressing the “whys”. Thank you for writing this, Erica. You have my admiration.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I was absolutely miserable at AB. I was bullied in both junior high and the high school. I was stressed out with school work, was being bullied constantly, and I wanted to end my life. I was bullied by many people during classes. They would whisper stuff about me and bully me before class, and no one stood up for me. I truly hated my life and felt that I did not deserve to live. I was not the smartest person in my class, I was put in a lower level for my classes, and people made fun of me for simply being myself. I hated it, and I had no one to go to. I didn’t tell anyone I was depressed or wanted to kill myself, since I didn’t want to be put on meds to solve the problem and also high school/ other students shouldn’t make students feel this way to begin with. All that I ask is that you please look out for each other. If you see someone being bullied say something. Be the better person. Bullying is not to be taken lightly. Look out for each other, treat others with respect, and be kind. There is no need to make fun of people for being different. I am in college now and life is better. I am no longer judged or ridiculed for being myself. I am no longer bullied or made fun of for being me. I now feel comfortable in my own skin, and I don’t have to hide in the back of a classroom to avoid being bullied. Be kind always.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. I’m so shocked that people took this so controversially. A lot of it resonated with me although I do not know how much blame rests on the students, the parents, or the administration, etc.. What I do know, as a depressed student, is that I was impossibly happier after leaving AB. Mental illness is never addressed in the curriculum OR the carefully implemented anti-bullying seminars. Students walking around without mental illness are never forced to confront the idea of it, which leads to a high level of sincere ignorance when it comes to interacting with students that are fighting their own battles. The events of the past year have hit you much harder than they have hit me and so I do really want to say that I’m sorry for everything that is happening. Some of the comments here are truly blind to the affect of adolescent experience on mental health. Anyone ready to tell Erica to “toughen up” has quite a bit of psychology research to do..

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi Erica. First of all, thank you for posting this. I know it must have took so much courage to speak up about this, especially because of all the backlash you recieved.
    Before I continue, I’d just like to say that I don’t want to offend anybody, and maybe I sound like a dumb 14 year old. But please hear me out:
    I’ve lived in this town since I was 8, and the most I remember of these past six years is wanting to get out of Acton.
    I love the staff of ABRHS thus far. My counselor is incredibly helpful, my teachers are fantastic, and everybody has been great. However, I have mixed feelings about how our teachers chose to go about our classes today. On one side, I understand that our teachers didn’t want to upset anybody (especially the brothers of the most recent victim who happen to be in my grade). But on the other hand, we need time to grieve. We’re not used to this yet. Us freshmen don’t really know what to do with ourselves at a time like this. For me, I am overwhelmed. I have never experienced anything like this before, and I know many of my peers would agree with me. All of my teachers today had the courtesy to not assign us any homework tonight, but I do know of many teachers who still held tests/quizzes today which I found kind of disrespectful in a way. How are we, as an entire school community of students, expected to focus all of our attention on work when one of our own felt so lost he could not continue? Things like this should not just be swept under the rug.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. First of all, I enjoyed the article and agreed with it immensely. HOWEVER, I would like to remind everyone that the reasons that person X–I will keep up this charade of not mentioning his name, even though we all know who he is– committed suicide are still completely unknown. We do know that he did have depression and ended his life for that tragic reason. For that reason, I FEEL THAT IT IS DISRESPECTFUL TO BOTH HIM AND THE AB COMMUNITY, TO MAKE HIM A MARTYR FOR A CAUSE THAT MAY NOT PERTAIN TO HIM. We do not know if he killed himself because of too high school pressures, or because he felt inadequate in the AB environment, or SIMPLY BECAUSE HE HAD MEDICAL FORM OF MENTAL ILLNESS. For this reason I feel that Erica should have just left that whole first sentence out (or even the first paragraph).

    Other than that I really have no problem with this article. I do detest the way she shames the administration and I do not think that she fully understands administrative duties. BUT–here’s the kicker–neither do I. Ultimately, I appreciate people, like Erica, who take time out of their day to write about things they deeply care about. Even if I don’t think she was right to bring person X into the fray, I’m just glad someone is writing about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much and I really do respect this and your opinion. I tried very hard to make this piece not about said person, but about everyone we’ve lost as a whole. And the “specific” situation I bring up is also not about that person. I also tried to go back and explain later that when I initially wrote this I was angry, and thinking a lot of my own experience at AB and my own losses, and that pulled through a lot more than I’d wanted it to. I didn’t mean for it to come off as a hate piece for AB administration. There are some great people there, my mother even works at the high school! I really do thank you though for not attacking the entire piece because of the parts you disagreed with. Also I understand you wanting to stay anonymous, but if you want to message me or even comment here (idk if you can message on here idk how to do the internet) exactly which parts you’re referring to with that person, I’d be happy to edit them out. I really tried not to make it about that person at all, and I’m really sorry if I did.

      Like

      1. I think that the disclaimer at the end of the update is fine. Idk if it was there out not when I read the article or not, but it basically does the trick. (Sorry if it was already there, I’ve probably wasted some of your time.) However, I think that it might be a good idea to start off by explaining the event that prompted you to write this article, and then write about how this relates to the other suicides and the role the school and the community has played in those. It’s impossible to write about suicide and depression without invoking this recent event–which is what I mainly read into–, so maybe being open about it and addressing it upfront at the beginning is the best way to go–while describing the uncertain state the matter is currently in. Anyways, thank you for reading my comment.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You haven’t wasted my time at all! I did add that disclaimer after reading your comment, and also tried to change the wording a bit in the first sentence to steer it away from looking like it was about this exact situation. And you’re right. I’m going to put some more thought into how exactly I’ll word it, but I’ll take another look at the first paragraph with this in mind. Thank you for your feedback it’s been so helpful!

          Like

  27. Every day at practice
    I sit on the waxed AB basketball floor
    Not talking to anyone
    Tired, thinking too much and barely thinking
    Trying to pull up a smile is like trying to drag a car through mud
    And no one noticed

    No one noticed except my coach
    Who saw me every day
    Silent
    Sitting on a waxed floor, surrounded by friends
    But feeling utterly alone

    He made me see my advisor
    And the first thing I thought was that I was in trouble
    Even though I had done nothing wrong

    My advisor, she asked me why I had such low energy
    I said I was tired, and randomly conjured up the sentence that I had been eating more nuts now so my energy was better
    What?
    And she believed me
    Didn’t ask me any more questions
    And sent me on my way

    I did not even know I had a problem until sophomore year of college
    I would cry every night on my boyfriend’s shoulder
    But he was asleep
    And didn’t notice

    The only one who noticed was his wet T-shirt
    My tears calling back to me
    Noticing the pain I was in
    Sometimes
    I would rock back and forth on the floor in the dark
    Telling myself over and over that it would be ok

    Everyday
    I thought of killing myself
    I wanted to jump through the center of a flight of staircases
    In a building I had class in, just two block from where I lived
    It formed a perfect rectangle
    And I imagined falling all the way down, 10 flights
    Through that perfect rectangle
    Framing me, enveloping me and this image made me feel ok and brought me peace

    I thought that everyone felt the way I did
    When I realized that the idea of death brought me peace
    I was frightened
    I did not want to die

    I finally spoke up
    I told my boyfriend that I wanted to die
    His voice was so broken and said that he had no idea
    And wished that I had told him sooner

    I started counseling
    And that was ok
    I realized that I was not in touch with my feelings before
    Had been shoving them under the rug in trade for success

    And I was successful
    But I was miserable
    Junior year of college
    And even with counseling
    I thought of killing myself every day
    When I picked up a knife to cut my morning bagel
    I wanted to stab myself
    When I crossed the street
    I wanted to be hit by a car

    Thoughts of death were all around me
    And even with my blanket of a 3.9 GPA, a near perfect MCAT score, supportive friends, and a loving, caring boyfriend
    I was left shivering with the reality of my life
    Shivering with the reality that I was in so much mental pain
    That I wanted to die

    I did not get better
    Until I started taking anti-depressants
    And even then
    I get down sometimes
    But the thoughts of death are gone
    Are like a far off wispy cloud
    That has no substance

    I am very glad that I did not take my own life
    I know that life is not all about success
    And I want continue to grow, and love all of the people around me

    If you are alone
    If you are afraid of yourself
    If you are in so much pain and do not know why
    Speak
    Because most people do not notice
    Because the only witnesses to your pain should not be your own tears
    Because you are alive, and deserve to live, to love, and to grow

    Liked by 2 people

  28. As a student at AB I find this post meaningful and true. The way that AB pressures kids today is totally insane and needs to be cut back. It is my understanding that these reforms are undergoing approval from the district council and such but we don’t have time. These reforms must be placed NOW. We cannot waist anymore time and risk losing someone else. Thank you so much for sharing this for those who’s voices have been taken away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do believe certain school systems put pressure on the kids. What is more pressure is trying to be that ” best in studies and sports and debate and etc etc so one can get scholarships and entry onto name brand colleges”. No one is forcing you to ” suffer” in this school system. Ultimately what is important is being happy. Don’t blame the pressure on this school system. Instead try to see if it fits you or not and act accordingly.

      Like

  29. I really appreciate this post. It’s not bashing anything–it’s saying it like it is. I don’t know what it is about AB but it does foster a very competitive environment that is extremely unhealthy even in the long run. I’ve seen ‘friends’ cry at the lunch table for getting a 95 instead of a hundred on a math exam in 7th grade. I remember getting a 92 instead of a 93 which would have put me over to an A in 8th grade and feeling horribly about myself for not being good enough. And around the end of sophomore year when my depression hit me head on, I felt like I needed to get over it and get into college so everything would be better. Even though my counselor knew what had happened to trigger the depression; even though my parents saw my grades dropping, me gaining weight, and sleeping all day, no one ever said anything. I quit everything and I would sleep all day because it was an escape. I also turned to drugs and alcohol as other escapes but no one saw that. They didn’t see me drink an entire bottle of alcohol by myself, or drinking every day alone in my room as a call for help. Rather it was a sign of recklessness that was hindering and probably causing my failure in school. I would leave printouts about teenage depression for my parents to find but they didn’t know what to say or do so they ignored it. I had given up on everything and hoped that college would make it better. But unfortunately, all those unhealthy coping techniques and things I pushed under the rug resurfaced and that too in an environment where I was alone and free to do anything. Needless to say, there were lots of ‘bad’ decisions and suicidal nights. It wasn’t until being in college for a few years that I saw that there was something wrong when I would stay in my room all day drinking and not going to class or talking to anyone. I would cry for reasons I did not know. That was when I knew I had to either get help…or “help myself.” I chose the former and sought out a therapist. I would look forward to those sessions because for the first time in my life, someone asked how my day was with the intention of listening and talking about the mushy stuff. And after a year there was a lot of improvement in my life–in the way I think and cope. That’s not to say it’s easy now, but when those thoughts come around, I recognize what they are. I’m thankful to have stuck to my major of Mechanical Engineering and hope to graduate soon.
    The reason for me posting this long message about my experience is not to wave a flag and say to everyone that I relate and want to be a part of whatever’s going on currently. When I read these comments and your post it self, it felt “good” to see that others had a similar “off-course” experience like mine and I just wanted to add this to the list for that person who’s reading through anonymously feeling alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I graduated from AB in 2010 and I have never seen something more spot on about the kids in this town.
    When I was a sophomore we had a kid die in a car crash and that was pretty rough…the teachers (luckily) were accommodating. I remember the next day we had our midyears and Mrs. Nugent told us if we didn’t want to take it we didn’t have to, because he was in our class.
    I have a few friends at work who are still in high school, and one of them came into work yesterday absolutely distraught because the staff didn’t do anything to make the day any easier. Things have clearly changed since I graduated and I’m not stoked on it.
    To those reading this who still attend AB – it gets better. I promise.

    xo

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi Erica. I can say with absolute certainty, this is true. I remember freshman and sophomore years were the two worst years of my entire life, times when I struggled relentlessly only to get nothing but mediocre scores, surveillance, insults, and even slanderous rumors about me. And yes, I thought about suicide again and again and again. Had I not found solace in the hard rock community, I probably would be dead today. Now here I am, 21 and finishing college with high grades, disproving all the people who said that I was a bad student who wanted to fail. I’m a member of Bookbuilders of Boston and working full time by the end of the decade doesn’t seem like a far-off goal to me. So I just wanted to let everyone know, there’s always hope. Drugs just make the situation worse, and suicide eliminates the chances of rising from the ashes the way I did. It may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do to persevere, but trust me, it’s worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Hi everybody, I just posted this on Facebook but for those of you that are finding this through another means, I’ll comment here, too. I’d like to make something as clear as I possibly can right now: My post was not written as a hate piece against Acton-Boxborough or to bash any particular group of people, including the teachers and counseling staff of AB. I was trying very hard NOT to refer to any specific situations and keep it as general as I could. I recognize that I didn’t do the best job at making that clear in the piece, but I’m a 20 year old college student venting on the internet… I can’t be expected to have the accuracy of the New York Times and the wonderful thing about wordpress is it always lets me go back and edit!!! I never expected anyone other than my friends to even read it let alone for it to blow up the way that it did, but I wanted to thank everyone who read it and messaged me today, and also apologize to anyone who may have misread the post or my intentions. There are quite a few people at AB that I love dearly, and I hope they know who they are (apart from those that I’ve already spoken with today). The fact that SO many people connected with this piece and told me that it was exactly how they felt is a huge sign that something is wrong. I hope you can all see this piece as a whole instead of just the little pieces of it that you may not like or agree with.

    Like

  33. First off, I think it’s funny how you complain about Acton-Boxborough only caring about academics, but you write a blog post which is filled with run ons and grammatical errors. Second, you come from one of the best public school districts in the country and had the privelge to have one of the best counseling departments at your disposal. Bashing on these great people makes you seem like a complete and utter prick. This is a prime example of white privelge. Imagine a person from a lower income school district reading this. They will probably think “classic rich, spoiled Acton kid.” Putting blame on a good school with great employees, shitting on people who post sincere Facebook statuses, and bashing people for playing sports shows me a couple things. You are immature for blaming your lack of success on a school district, you are an attention seeker by posting a controversial blog post and you are a cold blooded person for posting something like this on such a tragic day for the community. One thing I’ve learned in life from a previous boss of mine. He said “you gotta be tough, if you ain’t tough, you’re dog shit.” Life is tough, you just got to be tougher. So stop placing the blame on someone else and take responsibility yourself.

    Like

    1. Fuck you. Academics isn’t everything and AB does put an unreasonable amount of pressure on its students. Great people work here and great people learn here, but the overall environment is so fucking detatched from the average student’s emotional state that its unreal. While some of teachers addressed what happened, others just blew by it and treated today as another day to cram in as much work as we could. These teachers aren’t bad people, but they’ve conditioned themselves to believe that high school is this vitally important preparatory phase for real life even though it isn’t. High school matters, but it’s not worth half the pressure that’s on it. Why do the struggles of under privileged teenagers have to take away from our real struggles here – struggles clearly visible in patterns of student depression? I didn’t know Matt and I won’t pretend to have because this tragedy isn’t about me, so while I don’t know how preventable his death was, I do know that our school’s atmosphere clearly contributed to it. Lastly, even if you don’t agree with Erica on all of her points about our town and high school, at least show some fucking compassion for your peer who struggled through life and the people he left behind.
      As a note, I’m sorry if this post rambles. I got fairly worked up by your post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Could you explain a little more about where the pressure is coming from? If you don’t do well (say, getting a B instead of an A), what are the teachers doing? Are they calling your parents, or asking for parent-teacher meetings, or making you stay after for extra tutoring, or threatening to drop you down a level? Genuine questions here, trying to figure out whether the pressure is something that’s coming directly from the teachers or more environmental.

        By environmental I would mean, do the teachers just rush on to the next concept even if you haven’t gotten hold of it, or tell you that you just have to keep up, or refuse to give you extra help? I can imagine an environment like that making you feel like you’re so far behind that it’s pointless to keep trying. Are there student tutors available anymore?

        I did know kids in school who were under incredible pressure to do well, but it mostly felt like that was either internal or from their parents – both genuine issues, but ones better dealt with through the counselor’s office rather than the teacher. I’m also kind of sympathetic to teachers who are under immense pressure to get students ready for a state-mandated test and don’t want to slow down the pace if the majority of the class are following along.

        While I was at AB, I either leveled up or down in classes a few times. Once I deliberately went into honors where I knew I would get Cs or Bs rather than As, and the teacher warned me about it but once he realized I didn’t care, he was fine with it. Another time I got pulled aside and told I should think about dropping down a level in chemistry, not just because of grades but because I really wasn’t able to follow at the same pace – the teacher wasn’t judgmental about this, and it was the right thing to do. Are these conversations still taking place?

        Like

    2. I really love how you critique others for having grammatical errors when your entire response is full of them. I believe “privelge” is spelled “privilege”, but honestly what on earth would you know about anything. Please, please think before you write next time you dim-witted hypocrite.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Listen “Clark” number one : shut up and number 2: I personally know the author of this writing and she is the most warm hearted person there is but you wouldn’t have a clue because your making yourself look like an idiot claiming she’s a prick this and that. Do you know that half of these people where her friends? Probably not. Maybe this is her way of grieving and your taking a huge dump on it. Look at you you piece of shit. You sound ignorant as fuck do you realize that? I didn’t even read your whole comment because of how much of a PRICK you sound. I rather go to a low income school then deal with this school. For you to even bring up “low income” schools or “white privlage” since you want to pull the race card…. this isn’t even about that. This is about how acton needs to step the hell up be more supportive and not push everything under the rug kids are KILLING themselves over bullying maybe the stress of having to be number one or even academic wise always having to get an A+ etc. You will have your opinions but this is what the people needed to hear. Stop being sheltered and open your eyes and ears. No ones shitting on the faculty or anything she’s simply saying everyone needs to step up.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. First of all–before you assume I’m one of Erica’s friends coming to her rescue, I’d like you to know that I have never spoken to her and have seen her maybe once or twice in person while I was at AB.
      It’s sad that you don’t recognize that it’s people like you that contribute to the environment that everyone’s talking about. This post is not about run-ons and grammatical errors (which is redundant in itself by the way because grammatical errors encompass run-ons).
      This post is not about being well off and complaining about it. Sure, AB is a great school on all the lists and ratings, but who’s choice was it to attend this school? Did students research what type of school they wanted to attend before going there?
      This isn’t about white privilege because it affects more than just white people. This isn’t directed toward a person from a lower income school district because this is addressed to the Acton Boxborough community. Anyone can read this article and take away the message of the need for compassion, but this isn’t rich white kids blaming others for suicides.
      This isn’t about bashing a good school district and sincere Facebook posts and people who play sports. This is about being kind to others when they’re still around. It doesn’t question the intentions of those posts; it emphasizes the importance of expressing the intentions of those posts before it’s too late. The one line about playing sports was to show that those who don’t rise to the standards of AB have a skewed perception of what success and failure are. Not everyone becomes the super star for what they do, but AB doesn’t teach that your best is good enough.

      Lastly, I don’t think you see the irony of someone calling another out for writing a controversial post by posting one themselves. People who attack others in posts such as your own can be the reason that person takes his or her life. And this isn’t about being tough. Trust me, the decision you kill yourself in an incredibly tough one. “You gotta be tough, if you ain’t, you’re dog shit.” Interesting. So who exactly judges the strength of another and by what scale? I’d really like to know. Plus I don’t know how great it is to take ‘advice’ from someone who uses the term “dog shit” — boss or not.
      So yeah, I see that you have clearly missed the point of what you’ve read in Erica’s post, but hopefully I’ve broken it down enough for you to grasp.
      I also hope that you let go of whatever anger you have that caused you to take the time out of your day to write such a mean-spirited response to a brutally honest post.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. Is this a parent who is talking? If so, I feel very sorry for your child or children. Your ice-cold response to this writer shows absolutely no shred of compassion or understanding. Your values in life are misplaced, my friend. I am the parent of three children who attended the meat grinder that is Acton Boxborough, and I know whereof I speak.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your comment is very interesting. If the AB school system is a meat grinder, couldn’t you have moved away to a different school system? There are reasons to be in a certain school system and no forcing anyone. This is America. It’s all about choices. But the teachers and the staff at AB are truly amazing. Though it is absolutely unfortunate that the sad thing like a kid dying happened, why blame the school system?

        Like

  34. Just read this, used to go to AB, graduated 07 and you are spot on about everything. This is a great town with great school but it’s so cutthroat when it comes to competition and education. Every students want to do well but what happens if you don’t do well? It doesn’t mean your life is over right there, everyone still got a bright future but it almost makes you think if you don’t get straight A, perfect SAT scores and get into an Ivy League you are a failure. Currently I teach Highschool kids and I tell them, to do their best but it’s okay if you don’t get into an Ivy League or score perfect scores, there is so much ahead of you and life does not end here. So thank you for stating the obvious problem with our perfect town.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Maybe the community needs to stop blaming the high school teaching staff and start looking into the pressures that parents in Acton put on there own children. The high school has always been filled with people who literally go above and beyond to help a student in need. Cliquy adult social circles, townie expectations and gossipy parents are more of a problem for the children in Acton than the teaching staff at the high school. This town puts way too much on the shoulders of teachers, we need to start looking at what’s going on in our own homes and how we can make our own children feel foundationally good about themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rachel,
      You are spot on. The idea of “community” does not just fall in the school systems but everyone within the town. Parents in this district put a TREMENDOUS amount of pressure on their children starting at a very young age; Social pressure and academic pressure. I have witnessed third graders cheating on spelling assessments in fear of disappointing their parents with a bad grade. I have also witnessed parents participating in gossip about who slept with who at the latest high school party.. To me, that is more scary in this community than a group of well qualified teachers trying to make a difference..
      Also, just to be clear suicide is NOT the result of getting a 95 on a test. It is an action carried out by a person who is in need of serious mental help and counseling.

      Like

  36. As I remember it, the counseling department is generally swamped because they handle so much of the college admissions process. Counselors have an impossible task – to manage an very large caseload and get them all into ‘good schools’ but simultaneously provide for the emotional / safety needs of the student body. At the very least their attention is divided and priorities constantly juggled. Perhaps there could be a solution to this facet of the problem…

    Like

    1. The counseling department should better prioritize their time.Helping the well heeled student gain entry into the college of their choice should not be a priority over the student who is struggling with emotional and/or academic problems. As a former student of AB I clearly remember being called down to my counselor’s office in January to be told that I would need one more English credit to graduate. She blithely apologized on the “late notice” by explaining that she was so busy helping other kids with their college applications. It felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. This was over 30 years ago — remember it like it was yesterday. ps. earned the extra credit no thanks to the “guidance counselor”.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Hello Erica, I apologize in advance because this will be very long, but your post prompted a response from me.
    I’m a senior at AB. This school, this town, is miserable. If I told the average student in my class my GPA they’d probably faint. Ive delt with mental illness for all of my highschool life, I didn’t care about grades because good grades imply a good future and I didn’t think I would have much of a future at all. At AB I spent a lot of time feeling like a failure, someone people only pitied, a loser. In school I am always on edge, always restless and anxiety ridden. I spent a lot of time these past four years googling bodies of water to throw myself into and dialing suicide hotline numbers only to press end before the call went through. I didn’t want to die but I felt like I had to. You get to a point where you spend your days waiting for the right time to die rather than a chance to get better.
    You get so lost in a small town, every little thing feels so much more immediate.
    I saw people belittle students one day and preach about ending bullying the next. I watched people in my grade get hospitalized left and right, eventually one of which was my best friend. I saw people in the community try to speak on issues of mental illness and suicide but it seemed to always get lost in something deemed more important.
    I don’t look back at my time in highschool with pride, I look back at my time in highschool with grief, confusion, and pain.
    But, despite all that, I know that individuals at AB do care, and care deeply. I watched people embrace and cry and join together today, trying to make sense of things the best way we could. I know that this community, especially the senior class, was devastated by what happened. I just wish something was organized to bring us all together, and not leave us to rely on ourselves and our own groups. I had teachers continue to email me about homework and exams, teachers who didn’t say a word about what happened as though they expected us to forget that quickly. But I also had teachers who told us that they were there if we needed anything, that our health was more important to them than any assignment.
    I don’t love AB, I don’t love this town, but I do love many of the people in it. I’ve met some of the most beautiful people here, and few of the ugliest.
    These things are complex, there isn’t one solution, but I can assure you that many people do more than simply care even though it’s hard to see it sometimes.
    We are all so busy with everything that we forget to take care of ourselves, and of eachother. Life is precious. It is a cliche within itself to say it but life is precious. Every life among the billions is precious. Your life does mean something. It will affect people who’s names you may not even know. We should mourn those we have lost and celebrate what we have left of them, and we should also work to value the lives of those still with us. There is a mentality, a group mentality that needs to change. Not just individuals. Thank you for your writing and for allowing me to share my thoughts, Sending love to you and my fellow classmates.

    Like

    1. Erica- I wanted to reach out to you and tell you that I understand, and it gets better. I don’t personally know you or your situation, but from reading your comment, I can say that the way I felt in high school was not much different.

      I am an AB graduate, and definitely had my share of incredibly unsupportive teachers/administration (not all, but a fair few), many of whom were dismissive scoffed at my ambitions. My grades were less than stellar (awful, even); I did not get straight A’s (not even close), nor did I attend an Ivy League college. I did not receive support with the college application process. I was put down more times than I can remember by teachers telling me I was not good enough, and that I should level down in my classes, and that I would not be able to keep up with my classmates. But you know what? I’m happy, doing well, and finishing up my second year of medical school. I never thought I would’ve gotten here when I was in high school, but here I am. It really is just high school, and it gets much, much better.

      Like

  38. I’m sorry you feel that way Erica. I believe AB is a very caring school and our counselors and staff always put a student’s health first. Sometimes we are just trying to keep things normal for students when something happens to help them make it through the day. I remember one teacher running down the hall to help a student in need. :)

    Like

    1. As an AB alum and parent of former AB student, I’m terribly sorry to have to disagree. Of course, some teachers are great and care but, they are not the norm. The culture of the school, at least when my child attended, was one of sink or swim. I was told by the Principal that the school considers it “up to the students” to do everything. At the time my child was a freshman and having difficulty with the transition. All I was asking of the Principal was to be informed of my child’s attendance. He again stated that was up to my child. I asked to have my child punished with detention and was told they didn’t do that. To say the least I was incredulous. Many of my child’s friends ended up leaving AB to attend a private school. Unfortunately, we were financially unable to follow suit. The author of this post clearly did not experience the caring at AB. “I’m sorry you feel that way, Erica”, to me sounds like another way of saying, “you couldn’t be more wrong and if you do “feel” that way, there has to be something wrong with you”. Erica feels that way because that was what she experienced.

      Like

  39. You can say with certainty “Acton-Boxborough does an excellent job at raising students, but not humans. ” knowing AB’s academic culture, but you can’t say the counseling department doesn’t work their ass off to prevent these tragedies. The AB leadership and counseling department care a ton, these tragedies hit them just as hard as they hit us .

    Kids slip through the cracks because they rarely seek help and the student body isn’t aware or urgently checking for mental wellness red flags, not from a lack of compassion on the issue. In my opinion kids are neglected because awareness isn’t taught early, in middle school forward, and I hope that will change soon so the kids start grasping the gravity of the issue. The finger should really be pointed at an educational system that doesn’t promote self worth and mental health awareness, not the outmatched counselors and faculty of AB.

    Like

    1. AB is a place that mostly prepares people to be boring competitive assholes.
      There were some interesting teachers there, the school attracts some real characters.
      I can say that it made college way easier for me.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s