Dear Center Line Community,
The shock and horror of what occurred in Florida yesterday will continue to haunt all of us. It is unacceptable that children have to feel fear and experience loss. As I watched the coverage and saw the videos, I felt nauseous. A team met first thing this morning to debrief and make plans to provide reassurance for our kids, and continued conversation about what we are currently doing and what more we can do to bring some sense of comfort and safety to our school community.
Since the first tragedy in Columbine, we have worked with staff and students on crisis planning and practice drills. We have woven in direct instruction for students to improve coping skills and increase our students’ abilities to work through problems. We have hired additional mental health staff in each building, and we have worked hard to get to know each of our students.
Today, we asked that the counselors at the middle school and high school go into to each classroom to speak to our students and share the steps that are taken to ensure safety for all. We are asking that students report any/all concerns to their parents and/or a trusted staff member, and we will take action. Parents, please contact either your school principal or me with any concerns your child shares with you.
We have planned two community meetings on this topic. The first is February 26 at 5:45pm in the Board Room at 26400 Arsenal prior to the 7pm Board meeting. The second is February 27 at noon in the Center Line High School auditorium. This second meeting immediately follows a production called Lockdown, a bullying prevention play that all of our 6th through 8th graders will be seeing. All parents and community members are invited and encouraged to attend the play at 11am and then to stay for the noon meeting.
Our kids have access to what is good and right on social media, but they also see what is dark and dangerous. About a month ago, I received personal texts from two students and one parent when something that seemed unsafe was posted on social media almost immediately after the initial post was made. I was able to take immediate action by contacting the police and discovered that six other reports had already been made. THIS is the best way we can all work to prevent a disaster.
We care deeply for our students and we grieve what is happening in schools and other public places. We are ALL committed to doing everything in our power to be as proactive as possible and as practiced as we can be in case of an emergency.
Speaking with students about these horrible events is very difficult. The article “Coping with Community Crisis” from Harvard Graduate School of Education provides some pointers: https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/16/07/coping-community-crisis
Join us on February 26 and/or February 27. Please come, share your ideas and insights, and take the opportunity to band together and make sure everyone is informed and alert. Strong schools = strong community. Together we can!