Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our National Tragedy

A cross post from Mr. Alderson, Cashton Elementary School Principal
In communities across the nation, parents, teachers, and citizens are collectively and individually trying to make sense of the deplorable act of violence that occurred last week. Each of us will find a path forward in our own way as we rebuild the sense of security and tranquility so deeply valued in our community and necessary for the wellness of students.  While our schools and the students they serve continue to be as safe and secure as before, perhaps more so, it would be natural to have a heightened awareness and focus on safety.

While the tragedy occurred over a thousand miles away, the resulting sadness, fear, and concern are not softened by geography. There are local emotional impacts that need a carefully considered response, both in our home and our schools. As students become more aware of the details, it is possible they may feel scared, uncomfortable, sad, distracted, or at least curious. Fortunately, some, through their youthful innocence, are oblivious. Teachers and employees of Cashton Public Schools are committed to the support of our students and their families as they respond and react.  The topic is sensitive and is likely best addressed by parents, given the varied ages and emotional maturity of each student as well as the range of beliefs and values of their families that may influence which information is shared and that from which we hope to shield them. Teachers have been reminded of the importance of modeling calm and control, to focus their comments on helping students to feel safe in our school and classrooms, and to remind them that there is a safety plan in place that is frequently updated and practiced.

It may be even more important at this time to be aware of the emotional well-being of the young people you encounter. Should you notice changes in behavior, appetite, or sleep patterns, it may indicate an increased level of grief, anxiety, or sadness. For those who have had a past traumatic experience, or who are more prone to anxiety or depression, be particularly alert.  Should you have any concerns, please contact Mr. Stitchko,  Ms. Mass, or a health professional.

Although there is no foolproof prevention for all acts of man or nature, an emergency response plan continues to be in place to ensure that students spend their days in safe facilities with staff trained and prepared to act in the event of an emergency. Although the emergency response plan is thoroughly reviewed and updated annually, district leaders and student support personnel immediately revisited the plan after considering the available information from this tragic test of a distant district’s plan and facilities. Minor adjustments have been already enacted.  Additional safety measures including updates to the entrances of both buildings continue to be thoughtfully explored by the Board of Education and a representative committee of community members.

As always, we offer our full support to you as you help students through this challenging time.   Our teachers, guidance counselor, psychologist, and nurse will be available to assist, as will the administrative team. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us if you need support, guidance, or advice in the coming days.

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