School Safety

Dear Parents, Students, and Community Members,

The recent events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut are horrific and unexplainable. The loss of innocent life, and the long lasting affect it will have on the families and community, will be hard to overcome.

Every time I watch a news report on television, or read something in the paper or online, it makes me reflect upon the policies and procedures we have in place at Machias Memorial High School. It also makes me think of my own children and how I am thankful they are safe. This week I will be reviewing with teachers and staff the emergency plan and what they should do if such an event were to take place in our school.

I take the safety and well being of our students and staff very seriously. In preparation for each school year I review the emergency plan and procedures to identify areas that need improvement. In Machias we are fortunate to have three law enforcement agencies. Annually all administrators from AOS 96 meet with the Washington County Sherriff’s Department, Machias Police Department, and the Maine State Police to become educated on the latest trends in crimes and discuss how to make our schools safer. Law enforcement agencies also conduct risk assessment services and consult school officials of potential risks and safety hazards to our schools.

We also have access to Machias, Marshfield, East Machias, and Machiasport Volunteer Fire Departments and their Emergency Medical Response Teams. During a recent response, related to a small isolated fire, law enforcement and fire department officials were at the school within minutes. The hospital, with LifeFlight services available, is just up the road. To me this is very comforting to know that help is only minutes away.

I also am very concerned with bullying and harassment in our school. This year our school has created a plan to eliminate these types of behaviors. The most significant work will be when we educate students on how to stand up to a bully or harasser. This will require an change in the culture of our school and the attitudes of students. Adults and students will need to create a culture of empathy for others and begin to accept people for their differences or uniqueness. Every student deserves to come to school, concentrate on learning, and not worry about being bullied or harassed just because they may be different in some way.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School affects everyone in America. It saddens us, it makes us ask, “What if that were my children?”, and it angers us. But it also provides us with a reminder that we need to be vigilant and prepared against such situations so that we can protect ourselves and others.

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