Today, I met with grades 5-8 to touch on the recent tragedies that have impacted all of us, specifically the shooting at Dartmouth Hospital and yesterday's high school shooting in Washington State. The intent of my conversation with the students was to let them know that unpredictable and tragic things do happen in the world and sometimes safety is compromised. I wanted them to know that WS is a SAFE school and this is why we conduct monthly drills at WS. I told the students that we do have an emergency button in the office, (location will never be disclosed to anyone other than the inhouse WS Crisis Team). We installed the button so we could alert police in an immediate and expeditious way when we feel there is danger at school. I told the students that the state police works with faculty and staff to conduct table top drills that are school specific so we can build a safety repertoire should we ever find ourselves in a crisis situation. The students know that my desk faces the front of the building for a reason, so I can see ALL who approach WS. Our doors are locked 100% of the time and we have installed laminate glass in every window on the bottom floor of our school. We also attend school safety seminars and we read books and studies about school safety so we can update our Emergency Preparedness Manual as needed and train our staff and faculty, based on cutting edge research and best practice. The students were very interested in this information today. I think school safety is on every one's mind.
I ended the conversation by telling them how lucky we are to live in a state that has not had a lot of school violence, but if it ever does happen, WS is prepared to deal with the situation. Students have been encouraged to meet with me through out the day should they have questions or concerns. I have a suggestion box in the office that the students access daily, so I am aware of ideas and concerns they may have. This is another avenue in which to ask questions or to share their thinking.
My point today was to be positive and encouraging, even though this is a scary subject, and to let our older students know that school safety and their protection is on our minds all of the time. We have extensive plans should an emergency ever arise and their job is to let US worry about safety in school. Their job is to be happy, work hard, and do their best in school.
Please be advised that I did not meet with K-4 students as I don't want them frightened. Their classroom teachers do an excellent job talking about being safe in a genuine way as a part of their daily learning, so I feel for now, that is the best avenue to approach this subject with our little ones.
Please feel free to speak with your grade 5-8 child tonight about this important conversation we had today. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or comments regarding today's discussion or school safety in general.