Waynflete Grieves the Loss of Beata Vest

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Message from Waynflete Head of School Geoff Wagg

Dear Waynflete Community,

I learned this evening that our community has suffered another tragic loss. Beata Vest, a member of the junior class, took her own life. Her family, friends, teachers, and professionals have worked tirelessly to support her and everyone is devastated by this news. I am truly at a loss for words. Beata has a younger brother, Alex, in seventh grade. I spoke with Beata’s father, Brian, and expressed our deepest condolences. Brian asked that for the moment we provide the family with space to grieve. They are surrounded by friends and family who will take care of their immediate needs. I know that in the days ahead, we will find ways to help them, and we will certainly communicate with you how we can be of support to them.

Waynflete will have school Monday. We have already been in touch with many families whose children were close friends or who might need additional support. The Upper School will have an extended homeroom where advisors will share the news with all students. The same will happen in Middle School. I expect that the Lower and Middle School will continue to have classes as usual. In the Upper School, I expect that we will follow our routine if only to have some structure to the day. We will make adjustments as necessary.

Boulos House will be open all day tomorrow as a space for parents to gather and be together.

I will be in regular communication with all of you. We will need all of our collective strength to make our way through this tragedy, to support one another, and to ensure the safety of all our children.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Vest family in this time of despair.

Yours sincerely,

Geoff

Message from Upper School Director Lowell Libby read to students by their advisors on Monday morning:

As many of you know, Beata Vest died by suicide on Sunday.   The entire Waynflete community grieves our loss.

A death by suicide presents many questions that we may not be able to answer right away. It is usually caused by a disorder such as depression.  Beata was being treated by professionals.  She loved school and all of you.  It is gut-wrenching to know now that that was not enough.

As we have discussed recently as a community, depression can prevent a person from thinking clearly about their problems and how to solve them. Sometimes these disorders are not identified or noticed; in other cases, a person with a disorder will show obvious symptoms or signs. Certainly not all students who have depression feel suicidal.  It is important for you to know that resources are available at Waynflete for any students who struggle with these feelings. There are treatments that can help. One thing is for certain: suicide should never, ever be an option.

Each of us will react to Beata’s death in our own way, and we need to be respectful of each other. Some of you may not have known Beata very well and may not feel significantly affected by her death. That is OK.  Others may experience a great deal of sadness. Some of you may find that you’re having difficulty concentrating on your schoolwork, while others may find that diving into your work is a good distraction. It is important to know that there is no “right way” to process your feelings.  However this impacts you, please be open and reach out to adults for help.

As we process grief in our own way, it is important that as a school we continue to follow our normal schedule and routine as we can. Classes and rehearsals will continue as usual. If you feel the need for support at any time during the school day—including during classes—you can go to Lydia’s homeroom, which is across the hall from Holly. In addition, your advisors will be in their spaces at lunchtime today if you would like to connect with them.

If you are worried about yourself or one of your friends, you should talk with Cathie, Lydia, Kate, your advisor, or any adult in the community. We will have extra counselors on campus this week.

When a person dies, they should be remembered for who they were and how they lived.  Beata was full of love, compassion, intelligence, humor, imagination, and so much more.  We will keep you updated on her family’s wishes for a way to remember her life. In the meantime, let’s join together in sending the Vest family  our thoughts and prayers.

While I am not sure how we are going to get through this, I am sure that we will.