Many school districts started this week by addressing parents and others about the only thing on everyone’s mind, the shooting.
“Nobody exactly knows what to do,” Brian Monahan, interim superintendent for Hendrick Hudson schools, told us.
Here are snippets of messages sent out by a sampling of school officials over the weekend.
Harrison Superintendent Louis Wool:
I have been asked by parents and the news media how horrific outcomes like this can be averted, and while schools can and will learn from this tragic event, the most powerful resource in averting these tragedies is the strength and willingness of a community to care for all of its children. Each member of the community must view it as a responsibility to be attentive and vigilant for any child who is disaffected, alienated, and whose needs are unaddressed. It is in meeting that collective responsibility – to care for all children, and to make concerns known to their friends and family, to child protective services, to school officials, and to the police that we best ensure the health and safety of all. We must never overlook or leave to someone else the responsibility of reporting the distress signals often evident in children or adults who would commit these indefensible acts. In caring for those, we make our best effort to care for our own children.
Bedford Superintendent Jere Hochman:
Depending on the age of your child(ren), I imagine the weekend has ranged from protecting them from the media and any facts to listening to them express their thoughts and feelings. Some children may know nothing. Some may know people are sad because some children were hurt but the adults are taking care of everyone. Others will know details or too many details. We will work to monitor conversations and keep everything age appropriate. Regardless, we know what children (and adults) need to hear is that “You are safe here, everyone here will take care of all children, and everyone will continue to take care of each other.”
Yorktown Superintendent Ralph Napolitano:
During my lifetime, I have watched in amazement the deterioration of responsible, respectful and civil behavior. Although we talk about it more than ever, the application of these principles doesn’t seem to stick beyond the talking stage. Society has born and bred a new kind of “monster-coward” whose evil is unprecedented. What kind of low have we reached when one human being can point and shoot a gun at a five-year-old child?
I want you to know that despite my distress, we are and remain committed to the physical, emotional, and social well-being of our students and staff. Nothing will deter us from this primary responsibility. Our administration, faculty and staff would respond with equal courage and compassion as the heroic educators in Connecticut.
Hastings Superintendent Roy Montesano:
As a district we have already started the process of reviewing our security protocols with our staff. Faculty meetings are being planned for Monday to ensure everyone understands our emergency plans. We are fortunate to have a police department that works very well with our schools and we will continue to share information to provide the safest environment possible.
Principals at our schools have mobilized teams of counseling and support personnel, all of whom will be prepared next week to speak with any students or staff members who need them. I have come to know Hastings as a place where people care deeply for one another, never more important to our schools and the people who inhabit them every day than now.
Valhalla Superintendent Brenda Myers:
Most importantly, we will need your help this week. If your child is experiencing difficulty, our School Psychologists and Guidance Counselors are available to provide support. Working closely with your principal and teachers is critical in helping our children to feel safe and loved and to cope with the overwhelming sadness.
South Orangetown Superintendent Ken Mitchell:
Based on current information, today’s events may represent the most devastating school shooting in our nation’s history. While no words can express our profound sympathy and sadness, we are reminded of the vulnerability and preciousness of our children. I know that each of you will take yours in your arms tonight and hold them a little tighter than usual.
Mount Vernon Interim Superintendent Judith Johnson:
Our children may want to talk about the recent tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook elementary school. We need to be prepared for those conversations. Please remind them that every district employee is committed to ensuring all our children are safe.
White Plains Superintendent Christopher Clouet:
Please remember the importance of routines in the lives of our children. If you notice your child, or any child, in need of extra support please contact the principal.
Let’s be alert. Let’s be gentle with the children and each other. Let’s get through this together.