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Newtown mother promotes school safety to WMRHS officials

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

This group of women devoted to school safety in New Hampshire and throughout the country were brought together on the evening of September 6 to discuss the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. Jesse was one of the young students who lost his life in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting. L-R Scarlett Lewis, Shannon Desilets (NH Wellness Bureau) Kelly Dussault (WMRSD System of Care Manager), Jessica Loiacono (WMRSD School Board Chair), Christine Brennan (Deputy Commissioner of the New Hampshire Dept of Education) and Chrissy Grant (WMRSD SOC wrap-around service coordinator). (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 12, 2018
WHITEFIELD — Scarlett Lewis of Newtown, Conn. spoke at White Mountains Regional High School on Sept. 6 to discuss the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. Lewis lost her son Jesse, a first grader, during the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012.

Lewis discussed the comprehensive Pre K-12th grade social emotional learning curriculum that teaches educators and their students how to choose love in any circumstance."

Lewis said, "People become connected, resilient and empowered when they choose love.

Over the past five years, Lewis has been spreading the 'Choose Love' message throughout the globe. In a statewide School Safety Preparedness Task Force Report, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu referenced the Choose Love Movement as a backbone of support for the Granite State.

Eight different school districts were represented at the event. Educators, administrators, parents, school counselors and other mental health organizers were also in attendance.

WMRSD System of Care Manager Kelly Dussault said, "This was an amazingly powerful conversation by Scarlett on how cultivating social emotional learning is the way to support safer and healthier schools. This movement adds another tool to support our entire school community's emotional health."

SAU 36 School Board Chair Jessica Loiacono was equally as moved, commenting "It was my honor and pleasure to meet Scarlett Lewis and Shannon Desilets. Hearing Scarlett speak about how she found the ability to choose love after the tragic loss of her son, Jesse, who was murdered in his first grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, left me in awe. She's a remarkable woman with great courage and has taken tragedy and turned it into inspiration."

Loiacono added, "In coordination with our Systems of Care Program, it's my hope we can incorporate Social Emotional Learning and The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement into every day lessons for all our students, educators, staff, and surrounding community members. Everyone needs to hear Scarlett's message and the importance of being part of the solution."

At the event, Lewis commented, "New Hampshire is leading the country in school safety and doing what's right for their children, educators and communities. I'm amazed at the courage and dedication this state's leaders have shown."

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