We can all agree that this weekend's house-party incident certainly hasn't put Wilmington in the good light. The news spread like the actual COVID-19 virus — several of the Boston news stations picked up the story, which aired during the morning and evening telecasts. Camera crews were stationed outside the high school and others outside of Abundant Life School.
Instead of the news reporters coming to Wilmington to interview students who did some incredible fundraising work or a student-athlete who overcame some kind of adversity and was excelling on the field, their reports were about a house party held last Friday. At that party, 25-to-30 high school kids were involved in underage drinking. One young lady at the party needed medical assistance after consuming too much alcohol and then on Monday, the Wilmington Police Department apprehended the two adults who supplied the alcohol for those kids.
Before the arrests came, Wilmington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Glenn Brand announced on Sunday night that since many of the kids who were at the party did not come forward stating that they were there, he was forced to shift gears at the high school, going from in-person learning back to remote. Since the kids were not wearing masks and many of them were not identified, Brand obviously could not take the risk of sending a potential student to the high school, who could possibly be positive with the COVID-19 virus.
Certainly he did the right thing. One hundred percent.
Had Brand chose to let those children back in the school where 800 students were possibly exposed to the virus, my guess is he would no longer be employed here, and that would make it two superintendents Wilmington had who were let go by decisions pertained to alcohol issues.
Brand didn't choose that route. Instead, his decision was based on what's best for every single kid and staff member at that high school.
While Brand announced his plan on Sunday night, first-year athletic director Mia Muzio announced on Monday afternoon that all athletic activities would be suspended for a two-week time frame, which is "consistent with the guidelines set by the Department of Health." Meaning this decision came from the state, and not Brand, Muzio or even the Wilmington School Committee.
Once again, it's the right decision. Once again had that not come down from the state, I would hope that school officials or the school committee would have done it on their own.
When Muzio's press release came across my computer screen, I'll admit, I found myself incredibly sad, especially knowing that there's so many people who worked so hard and so diligent to get the ball rolling this fall season, so these kids could have some hope and sense of normalcy back into their lives.
I was incredibly sad for those student-athletes, who have worked so hard over the summer months so they could get back onto the fields and courses. One of the best days of the year for me at this job comes before the fall season when I meet so many student-athletes and interview them about the upcoming season. I thoroughly enjoy hearing their background stories, about their families and about how much work they did in the off-season so they would be prepared for their senior year. I felt sad for those kids. I felt sad for all of the student-athletes knowing how dedicated and passionate they are to their sport, to their teammates, to their school and to this town.
The last few days here have been incredibly sad. Certainly poor decision making was made, but hey I'm not here to lecture. I certainly made my own share of irresponsible mistakes. I think we all have. Stories like this have been in this town and every other town for a long time and will continue. These stories are not fun to report on whether in the town newspaper or television stations. Stories like this always end up in countless mud throwing sessions on social media sites.
Over the last handful of years, Wilmington has had its share of other negative stories that have also appeared on the nightly news. Each time seemed like just another punch in the gut. However, there's thing about this town that we can all agree on — when the town of Wilmington faces adversity, the people here always seem to respond, unite and come together. We need that with everything going on in the world today. The kids here in town need that.
I think we can all agree on that.