As the trial for the July 2011 slaying of 18-year-old Wayland High School senior Lauren Astley is set to begin next week, the school system is preparing to help students and faculty cope with the expected publicity and questions that may arise.
Wayland School Superintendent Paul Stein sent a letter out to the community outlining its approach and describing resources that are available.
“Given the attention to Wayland that this will receive and its closeness to home, I am writing to share with you how we in the schools plan to approach this sensitive matter,’’ Stein wrote.
Nathaniel Fujita of Wayland, will be on trial to face murder charges in the death of his former girlfriend. Jury selection is set to begin Monday morning, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say Fujita allegedly met with Astley at his home after she left work on July 3, 2011 and killed her, dumping her body in a marsh. The two students dated during high school but had recently broken up.
As the trial unfolds, Stein said it will undoubtedly bring up memories of the students and the tragedy, and unleash a variety of emotions.
“It may be hard to make sense of it all as community members sort through their thoughts and reactions, as questions arise because of the trial, as witnesses are brought to the stand, and as the media descends,’’ he wrote. “For some, this will be like reliving a trauma, especially those who have had a strong connection to these former students and their families. For others, the trial may feel removed from their thoughts and feelings. Divergent and conflicting opinions will invariably emerge.’’
He said the faculty remains committed to providing students with the comfort of the regular routines. At the same time, the faculty will be available outside the classroom setting for those who have questions or need support.
“Questions can divert a class from its work and, in the process, risk touching off the sensitivities and vulnerabilities of others,’’ he wrote. “It is best to acknowledge that this is a difficult topic and to offer to talk to individual students after class, or to suggest meetings with counselors.’’
Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at email@example.com.