It was a tough day for Saco. Between the shooting in Hillview Heights Dec. 18, the threat at Thornton Academy and the lockdowns throughout our school system, it’s easy to see how one’s sense of security is shaken.
Maybe some double check their doors to ensure they are locked or start locking them for the first time, maybe some parents keep their kids away from school for a bit (after vacation). It’s easy to be immediately reactionary to what has happened – to retreat into an emotional cocoon, to escape the sometimes harsh realities of the world we live in. The key to remember is, we areSaco strong. Our community is resilient. We pull together in times of need. We go above and beyond to help those less fortunate than ourselves even when we could use similar assistance. We treat each other like a close-knit family. That’s why I love our community. It’s steeped in culture, history, positivity and love.
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Before our brave men and women in uniform quickly responded admirably to the crisis at hand before our amazing faculty, staff and administrators brilliantly executed safety precautions as trained and practiced our Saco Middle School students provided the best example of why we must rise above and shine our light bright, not deterred from our normal day-to-day activities. On the morning of these events before the lockdowns started, students, administrators and faculty organized a Day of Joy, one of three, as a way to showcase what the true meaning of the holiday season is all about, giving back and spreading cheer. Students passed out candy canes and hot chocolate to parents dropping off their kids and to fellow classmates. The student council invited me to participate and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the smiling faces during what many would consider to be a stressful morning rush.
This may seem insignificant when we are talking about such serious topics of safety and our lives, but it is a gentle reminder to take a step back and be thankful for the time we are given; to live our lives as we see fit; to love who we want to love; to follow our passions; fulfill our dreams; and make a difference in some way – to leave our world to the next generation a little better than we have it. It might sound corny to gain all this insight from a white and red striped confection and warmed chocolatelaced water, but it’s what I thought about after all the craziness of the day subsided and I hope it gives you hope that while the events of that day were both sad and scary, they are not what defines our Saco community. We are so much more and we will regain our momentary loss of security. Together we will pull through.
As Christmas is upon us, enjoy this time with your loved ones. Give out an extra hug, a kiss, a pat on the back. Pass along a simple random act of kindness. Hold the door for someone at the post office. Pay for someone’s coffee behind you in the line of caffeine addicts (I am one of them). Something that passes along some hope, some joy, something that simply brightens up someone’s day. Just like the kids atSaco Middle School did for three days straight. It’s the best way to raise our spirits and enter the new year with an energy of doing good and living in the light.
Justin Chenette is serving his second term as state representative for Saco District 15. Outside the Legislature, he is the owner of Chenette Media LLC, a multimedia public relations company, and is the president/CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Follow updates at www.justinchenette.com, Facebook.com/JustinChenette, and Twitter.com/JustinChenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco