On Friday of last week, evil visited Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. On Saturday, authorities put together more of the pieces of the puzzle to explain what happened inside Sandy Hook one day after a gunman opened fire and killed 20 students and six adults.
Since that time, we have reflected on what this means for Griffin-Spalding County Schools.
One news commentator said that the day before the shooting, she was at her child’s elementary school. As the PTA meeting was ending, the principal said, “...thank you for entrusting us with your child ... our student.”
The commentator reflected that those words took on new meaning after the horrific events on Friday. Parents do entrust their children’s lives with our teachers and school administrators every school day.
To remember the victims, our flags were flown at half-staff. We are wearing green ribbons as requested by the Newtown community.
All staff was asked to increase their observation and awareness during coming days. We have talked with both the Griffin Police Department and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Department. Both are planning to have officers ride through the parking lots of schools, especially elementary schools, since secondary schools have school resource officers, now and after the first of the year to show a presence. In addition, schools were reminded to carefully follow their visitor/volunteer check-in procedures.
I have asked Jim Smith, assistant superintendent, to review our emergency operations plan for any adjustments that need to be made. We continue to seek best practices for providing security in our schools.
School staff members review their emergency operations plan at the beginning of each school year. We will now have at least three emergency operation drills throughout the year in our schools. At the end of the year, we will review our plans and drills to see if there are modifications that need to be made.
I remain convinced that the best way for deterring this type of action here in our community is for us to take care of one another. Students know more about what other students are thinking than we adults do. As we continue to increase our relationships with students and earn their trust, they will share with us their concerns. We will take their concerns seriously and act on them accordingly.
We also know there are adults who have issues and there are people in our community who know who those individuals are. They, too, will share information with us, as we increase our relationships and levels of trust with them. The best way to respond is to depend more on one another, to increase our relationships and communication and to respond appropriately. I have great confidence in our staff, and so do the parents and community of Griffin-Spalding County Schools.
Please know staff and student safety remains at the forefront as we maintain a safe learning environment in our schools. If you have any concerns or questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to let me know.
CURTIS L. JONES JR.
Superintendent of Schools
Griffin-Spalding County Schools