It’s been a wonderful summer, but all good things must come to an end. Yup, ready or not Wednesday, August 30 is the first day of Wellesley Public Schools. If you’re just barely skidding into town after weeks of gadding about and aren’t even sure what time your brood is expected to show up ready to learn, I’d say a visit to the school website is in order.
The hardest part of getting through Wellesley Middle School for our family involved me, after dropping off the kids, having to make that right on Rte. 9 East from Kingsbury Street, then shifting into the left lane to U-turn onto Rte. 9 West to get to work (OK, maybe my kids have a different perspective on the WMS years).
So it’s good to see the Massachusetts Department of Transportation going to work this summer on the Kingsbury Street/Rte. 9 intersection, which is being reworked as part of a broader MassDOT effort to improve Rte. 9 (also known as Worcester Street in these parts).
This intersection project was a topic of discussion heading into last year’s Town Meeting (article 26), where $600,000 in funding was approved. The discussion going into the meeting (including public forums in March) was whether to create a T-shaped intersection at the junction of Kingsbury and Rte. 9 (Option 1), or add traffic signals to the U-turns nearby the intersection on both the east- and west-bound sides of Rte. 9 (Option 2). Option 2, which is designed to make it safer for drivers to wait in line to make U-turns, won out. You can really dive into the plans here.
MassDOT says the signal installations are expected to be completed this year, while resurfacing of Rte. 9 won’t be finished until 2018.
Superintendent of Wellesley Schools, Dr. David Lussier, has sent out an email to parents warning about a deeply creepy “game” that has been making the rounds on social media for the past several months. In “The Blue Whale Challenge,” participants are encouraged to carry out a list of fifty tasks that start out with cutting, move on to desensitizing oneself to heights by, say, going to a roof and standing on the edge, and culminating in suicide. Throughout the tasks, the administrator, known as the “whale”, who does not participate in the tasks, is said to require proof through pictures and other occasional check-ins. The term blue whale comes from the phenomenon of beached whales, which is likened to suicide.
Although some reports of the challenge have been uncovered as a hoax, the family of a Texas teen says that it believes the sinister game led to its 15-year old son’s death. In addition, at least two administrators have been arrested in the past few months by police who have taken it all very seriously: an unrepentant Philipp Budeikin, 21, was arrested by Russian police earlier this spring, claiming that his victims were nothing more than biological waste and that he was simply cleansing society. In June, Ilya Sidorov, 26, a Moscow postman, was arrested in that city and reportedly told police that he had developed the “game.”
Ukraine, Portugal, Spain, Britain and France have also reported the existence of Blue Whale groups.
Here’s the letter from Supt. Lussier:
Dear Members of the Wellesley Community,
I want share information that school districts across the state have received about a dangerous social media app called, “The Blue Whale Challenge.” The Blue Whale
USA Today (May 25, 2017) reported on how it works – “Over the course of 50 days, an anonymous administrator assigns kids self-harm tasks. The challenges may start by asking kids to watch a scary movie and then grow increasingly dangerous to include acts like cutting. On the 50th day, the participant is supposed to commit suicide. The game can reach kids through social-media channels like Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube and texting.”
It’s very concerning because these apps are targeting a very vulnerable population. We would encourage parents to:
* ask your kids if there are ANY new games or popular challenges that they or their friends are hearing about or playing on social media or online
* search for hashtags like #BlueWhaleChallenge and/or photos of a blue whale on your kids’ social media accounts.
This message is not meant to alarm anyone, but rather to encourage parents to be proactive in protecting their children from potential negative influences on the internet.
A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to cover burial/funeral services for Justeen Francis, a 2016 Wellesley High School graduate who passed away unexpectedly on June 25 from a viral infection.
Francis, who lived in Mattapan, had worked as a camp counselor and was on break from Curry College, where she was studying criminal justice.
METCO K-12 Director Kalise Wornum wrote in a note to the Wellesley High community, “For those of you who knew Justeen, we ask that you remember and celebrate her winning smile, the ability to unite communities, and wonderful sense of humor. For those of you who did not know Justeen, we ask that you respect our sadness and support us with your understanding. It is very difficult for all of us to face the death of a young person.”
Wellesley High Principal Jamie Chisum also shared his thoughts on Francis, noting that they had a playful relationship (he flipping down her hood in the hallway). But Chisum also enjoyed seeing Francis become “a young woman of quiet and determined strength. Justeen was confident.”
Services for Francis will be held on Saturday, July 1 at the Davis Funeral Home, 654 Cummins Highway, Mattapan.
If you would like to send a card of condolence, please mail to:
Ms. Clementine Francis (grandmother)
6 Meadowbank Road
Mattapan, MA 02126