The Garfield School District No. Re-2 joins the rest of the nation in mourning the deaths of the children and adults of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. This immense tragedy will forever change the lives of not only this community, but the entire world.
We want to assure the parents, students and staff of Garfield School District Re-2 that every step is taken every day to make sure that children are safe at school. Over the years, we have implemented safety measures to limit access to our schools and monitor each and every person who enters the doors of our facilities.
At all of our schools, only one door is open to access the school. At most of our schools, we have a double set of doors with a vestibule, meaning access to the building cannot be gained without going through the office. All of our front offices are located near the front doors so they can keep an eye on traffic entering the building, and all visitors must check in at the office at all our schools.
Garfield Re-2 has a robust security camera system, schools conduct safety drills monthly and as a district, we work with law enforcement to conduct larger scale drills to practice for crisis situations and have a table-top crisis training planned for early 2013. Our staff members wear badges to distinguish them from strangers who may not be allowed in the building. Garfield Re-2 has two School Resource Officers that work with students and staff across the district and strong relationships with local law enforcement agencies.
All of the schools in Garfield Re-2 have a character education program in place. While there may be a slightly different means in delivering the message, all have the main goal of fostering a positive culture and climate within the school, and empowering students to take action regarding school safety such as bullying and threats. They all help students develop their conflict resolution skills, and actively encourage older children to participate in anti-violence programs.
Many of the Garfield Re-2 schools recently participated in a 12-12-12 program that included a random act of kindness every hour for 12 hours. The Rifle High School B.I.O.N.I.C. (Believe it or not I care) organization held such an event last week. Club member junior Hannah Prunty said that events like that "help build relationships and help students step out of their comfort zone."
However, RHS sophomore Tony Morehouse added that while the 12-12-12 event was cool, for them it was just another day.
"We don't need a specific day to be nice to each other at Rifle High School," he said. "The kids are pretty good to each other every day."
Theresa Hamilton is director of districtwide services for Garfield School District Re-2.