Dear Newton North Community,
Superintendent David Fleishman sent an email yesterday regarding the tragic event at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I would like to echo Dr. Fleishman’s sentiments that our thoughts are with the students, staff and families of Parkland during this extraordinarily difficult time. The tragic event hit particularly close to home, not only because North and Douglas are similar high school communities, but because my niece and nephew will attend Stoneman Douglas High School in just a few years.
At Newton North, there are many things we do to maintain a safe school. Most importantly, we develop strong relationships with our students, communicate well when students are struggling emotionally, and provide students a strong social and emotional support system. We know that making connections with our students is vital in order to provide the necessary support when they are struggling emotionally.
Our security procedures and emergency response protocols are aligned with current best practices in school safety and Massachusetts state guidelines. Our School Response Team meets regularly to review our safety systems and make modifications based upon that analysis. For example, we recently moved the offices of the Campus Aides to the Theater entrance and the School Resource Officer to the center of Main St to ensure we have safety personnel at the three major, unlocked entry points during the day. We do have video cameras located throughout the building and regularly work with the Newton Police and Fire Departments to practice building lockdown. Last year we practiced a lockdown drill during the 3rd quarter and we plan to conduct a lockdown drill again this spring.
School safety is a complicated issue because we need to maintain the physical safety of the building while also creating a welcoming space for all students. At Newton North, we believe part of our work is to help students develop independence skills. Open campus is one of the ways that we help students develop independence. We are not unique in our educational philosophy of utilizing open campus in a high school setting. In the coming weeks, we will be consulting with neighboring districts with open campus environments to ensure we have the security processes in place to keep our students safe while also providing them with this valuable experience.
If your student is struggling with the impact of this event, please contact their school counselor for support. Thank you for supporting us in our work to provide a safe learning environment for all of our students.
I also understand that there are national calls for high school students to protest and walk out. As we have with previous student protests, we will work with students who wish to organize a rally.
Henry Turner, Principal