Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff:
The events of this last week highlight a crisis facing our nation - specifically violence in our schools. Our hearts go out to the members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The National Council for Home Safety and Security ranked Parkland first on the list of safest cities in Florida in 2017. This shows that no town or city is exempt from this senseless and random attack on innocent children and staff. I am heartened by the response from students at MSD High School. They are being so articulate in their response to this tragedy. They are insisting that our government leaders take action in protecting our young. It is clear that these most recent student victims who survived will not be silenced. As they say, "The time is now!".
Vermont is not immune to school violence. This last decade or two has had its fair share of incidents. Just last week an 18-year old Vermont man was arrested for keeping a "Diary of an Active Shooter" where he threatened mass casualties at Fair Haven high school. The police were tipped off and a potential tragedy was averted. It underscores the principle, "If you hear something say something!".
I want our school community to know that our principals and staff are working diligently to ensure safety in our schools. They have the most recent training in response to Active Shooters and, in cooperation with local law enforcement, they hold regular drills in preparation for events we hope never occur. They do not take any of this lightly. The safety of our children is first and foremost.
In this week of rest, let's take the time to be with family - to appreciate the each other and the beautiful place where we all live. I would ask parents, particularly of older students, to continue to keep lines of communication open with our children. We need to build those trusting relationships so that they will feel safe to share anything with us. They may be more likely to share something at home than they would be at school. If they do share something with you that causes concern, then immediately get word to a school official. We are all in this together. We have great kids, we have great schools, we have a great staff, and we have great parents. We need to be vigilant and work together.
Finally, I want to thank our first responders. They are often forgotten, until we need them. We have such excellent paid and volunteer fire, rescue, and police in our communities. They have developed an excellent working relationship with our schools. We can call them any time. A huge thank you for the way you put your life on the line for all of us.
I hope everyone enjoys the break. It will go by too fast. Be safe and always feel free to contact us with any concerns.
Dr. David W. Baker
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union