Friday, December 13, 2013

Lest we forget- Sandy Hook one year later

Last year, on Tuesday, December 18, 2012, I wrote this blog about our first day in school after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  As I reflect again on this event, I decided to share the blog post, quoted below, again in order to help us remember that awful day.  May we all keep the victims and school community of Sandy Hook in our thoughts and prayers not only on the anniversary of this event, but at all times.

"It's now our second day back to school after Sandy Hook.  Fortunately yesterday went as well as can be expected in a school full of 4th-8th graders the week before Winter Break.  Parents are thankful for the security procedures that we have in place.  The students had a very normal day full of classroom instruction, lunch, and recesses.  Few students asked any questions about Sandy Hook or our school security measures and that's both alright and not alright.
It's alright because our students feel that they are safe.  They know about our school security and they know that we practice intruder drills, fire drills, and tornado drills.  Most of the students take these drills seriously and will even question whether we are doing a drill or whether it's an actual fire, actual tornado, or actual intruder.
It's also not alright because our students feel they are safe.  The students in Sandy Hook felt safe, too.  Our school in Merton has very similar procedures to Sandy Hook.  Sandy Hook followed their safety procedures and we follow our safety procedures, too.  Sometimes when you practice drills and follow procedures, bad things still happen.
And this leads to the title of this blog, "Lest we forget".  I am concerned that because yesterday went so well, we might not be as diligent today as we were yesterday.  Coach Bob Knight, former basketball coach, used to use a term called "game slippage".  This refers to the desire he had for his players to work harder, run faster, jump higher, and move more quickly in practice than they would in games.  If the players did this in practice, game slippage would still allow the players to be successful in games.  I don't want us to have game slippage when it comes to the safety of our schools.
We must not forget what happened in Sandy Hook.  We can't forget to practice our drills.  We can't forget to comply to our safety procedures.  Yesterday, none of our visitors questioned our procedures.  They even thanked us for having them.  Will the same be true today, or when we return from break in January, or on a warm afternoon in May?  Honestly, I would rather offend a visitor by having them ring a doorbell to be let in, ask them to sign in, and have them wear a name badge.  It's our procedure and if you want to visit a classroom or a teacher, you must follow our procedure.
I challenge all of us in schools to not forget about Sandy Hook.  They did everything right for their students and staff.  We all do everything right for our students and staff."