In the wake of today's – which has left nearly 30 people dead, including 20 young children – Ferndale Public Schools Superintendent Gary Meier sent the following message to parents Friday afternoon:
Dear Ferndale Schools Families and Community Members:
Today was a tragic day for our nation, especially for those in schools, those who teach our children, and for our school families. When a gunman entered an elementary building in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 28 people, including 20 children, he not only took innocent lives, he also took away the innocence of our young children. His actions made all of us take pause, reflect on our own families, and then, think about what we might do to prevent such a tragedy from occurring ever again.
This tragedy will be very difficult to reconcile as we try to find answers about why someone would do such a terrible thing. But there are things we can all do in response. Here in the schools, we are revisiting our security and emergency response plans, discussing our procedures, and increasing our vigilance. At home, parents may be faced with the difficult burden of answering their children’s questions and fears.
Regarding safety, it is important to me that you all know that we take school safety seriously across the Ferndale Schools. We have created protocols and drills to keep our schools safe and secure. Our top priority is the safety and protection of the children of this district. We have two police liaison officers who serve our district, plus a positive and close relationship with the Ferndale Police Department, and with the law enforcement agencies that serve our entire community.
To be vigilant, we must all pay attention to visitors and strangers who come to our schools and in our neighborhoods. It is important for each of you and your children to know the importance of reporting any suspicious behavior that concerns you to trusted adults or to the police via 911.
Regarding supporting our children: It is essential to listen to their concerns and answer honestly and age appropriately. They need to know they can trust us to tell them the truth. Here are some excellent resources for preparing to talk to children about today’s tragedy. Including:
Talking with Kids about the News from PBS:
Helping Children Cope After a School Shooting
Children’s National Medical Center
Tips for Talking to Children About the Shooting
Helping Kids with Nat'l Tragedy
Here for Each Other - PBS/Sesame Street
We have honored President Obama’s order to lower all flags to remember those who lost their lives today. We will honor their memory by being vigilant to protect the safety of those children in our care in the days and years to come.
- Gary Meier, Superintendent, Ferndale Public Schools