December 15, 2012
Dear HTS Family:
Although 24 hours have already passed, I am still struggling to wrap my head around the most difficult question that I have ever been forced to address in almost 20 years in public education: “Why?” It is a question that police departments and school officials will struggle to adequately answer in the days, weeks and months ahead and I am not completely confident that we will ever know the real reason why this happens to our children. As you all did, I grew up in a country where the words “school” and “shooting” were never used in the same sentence and where a “tragedy” involved a child falling off a bike.
I would like to thank our teachers for their calmness and professionalism yesterday. Children, whether in PreK or eighth grade, more often than not, mirror the demeanor and affect of the adults nearest to them. Yesterday, as Dr. Petersen and I walked in and out of our classrooms, we saw nothing that would indicate we were in the midst of the worst K-12 school shooting in our nation’s history. Teachers were simply busy teaching or wrapping (Operation Holiday) away and our students, in particular our elementary school students, seemed blissfully unaware of the tragedy in Newtown. Additionally, I would also like to thank our parents for their calm and measured response to the incident. We were not overwhelmed with phone calls and the vast majority of parents left their children in school for the full day. Because of this we were able to dedicate 100% of our attention and focus to our children.
Although we have many effective school safety procedures already in place, including a “swipe card” system with video capabilities, we will be conducting another review. I will be bringing school safety experts from the Homeland Security Unit of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office to conduct a thorough review shortly after the New Year. We will also continue to work with the HTPD; they were able to provide a strong police presence at our school during dismissal on Friday.
Lastly, if you believe that your child is in need of any counseling services at HTS, please do not hesitate to contact us at school. Enjoy the balance of the weekend and I hope you can all spend some quality time with your children.