Dear Pelham Parents, Staff and Community Members,
I am writing you with a heavy heart over the tragedy that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida yesterday. For all of us – parents, students, teachers, and staff – violence in a school, especially the loss of innocent lives, hits far too close to home.
During this time when media attention is heightened around this most recent school shooting, it is especially important that we help our children make sense of this disturbing act of violence. Please know that our school counselors, psychologists, administrators and principals are all available to support our students and staff. We encourage you to reach out and ask for support.
The safety of our students and staff is something that I take extremely seriously and something that our staff thinks about on a daily basis. Each instance of school violence gives us pause as we think about how we improve the safety of our buildings and facilities.
Over the course of today and tomorrow, our middle school and high school administrators and support staff will be meeting with students to review our safety protocols and remind students of the resources available to help support them emotionally.
In the coming days and weeks, our elementary principals will review our building protocols with our staff and parents and remind them of the importance of following our safety procedures. As always, our staff is available to address any students’ concerns in a developmentally appropriate way.
Our District safety and security committee will also meet shortly to review our procedures and discuss ways to make improvements, as necessary.
Each year we practice a variety of drills, such as lock downs and lock outs, to help us prepare for a day that we pray will never come. Over the past several years, each of our campuses have been equipped with enhanced security features to control who is entering and leaving our buildings at all times and notify those outside of the buildings when an emergency situation is occurring. Our security and facilities team and our administration maintains a close working relationship with our police and fire chiefs in each village and they too practice and prepare for emergency responses routinely and seriously. Together, we strive to make sure our efforts are efficient and coordinated in the event of any emergency.
Preparation is key to ensuring that our schools are safe and welcoming places for our students and staff. The social-emotional wellness of our students is a core tenet of educational system and that will always be the best preventative measure we can take. We also must be persistent in ensuring that potentially dangerous and violent situations are known before they become tragedies. It sounds simple, but please, if you see something, say something. We will investigate, and we will work to make sure our students are safe – it is our most important function as a school system.
Finally, the Employee Assistance Program has produced a helpful guide with tips on dealing with the trauma from the tragedy. Click here to review this document.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns. Please keep the families of Parkland, Florida in your hearts and minds and thank you for your continued support.
Dr. Cheryl Champ, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools