Dear RSU5 Families & Staff,
Senseless acts of violence are difficult for everyone to understand. Our schools in the United States have experienced shootings for far too long. I remember the University of Texas tower shooting on August 1, 1966 that resulted in the deaths of 17 lives, and now another 17 lives were lost in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. These seventeen individuals were taken from their family and friends who loved them deeply. My heart goes out to the families, students and staff at Stoneman Douglas High School as they try to cope with this horrendous act. When our children hear of such events, it can be very frightening. Even in this tragic aftermath, and as we respectfully debate what steps should be taken to keep our schools safer, we must meet this latest challenge by coming together as a community with the first and foremost goal of protecting our students.
We continually strive to keep our students safe. We keep all of our school buildings locked during the school day and closely monitor access. All visitors are required to sign in. We have Officer McManus as our school resource officer. We are also supported by the Androscoggin Sheriff’s Department and the Freeport Police Department. We have a close working relationship with both of these agencies. All of our schools practice evacuation and lockdown drills on a regular basis.
Each school and the district have emergency response plans which are reviewed annually. We also have a district safety committee, which oversees emergency planning, with the primary focus of each meeting being how to make our schools safer. This committee most recently met on February 15. The committee is working diligently to review procedures, role play potential scenarios, and ensure that there is adequate security equipment in all of our schools.
Most importantly, it’s up to us, school staff and parents, to help our children feel safe. The more we work together, the stronger we will become in fighting senseless acts of violence and bullying. If everyone is vigilant and says something when events seem amiss, it will strengthen our culture and minimize the risk to students. Tragedies underscore the importance to all of us to stay connected with students and remain ever attentive. Everyone plays an important role in maintaining a safe school environment.
Lastly, in addition to our teachers and support staff, we have guidance counselors, social workers, and school psychologists available to support our students at any time when they may be experiencing emotional trauma. It is important to reassure children that they are safe and at the same time, to validate whatever feelings they may be having. We cannot guarantee that nothing bad will happen in the future, but we can assure our students that there are many people who care about them and are there to support them when something may occur. Safety remains our utmost concern and every incident that occurs makes us ever more vigilant.
As a mother, I can imagine no greater devastation than the loss of a child or grandchild. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Florida. And I know that after so many school shootings, many Americans are asking how many more lives must be lost before solutions are found to these senseless acts. However, let's make sure we never forget what makes RSU5 such an exceptional place to grow and learn, and that our schools are overall, very safe places. Please know that the RSU5 staff takes seriously our responsibility to safeguard the 1947 students in our care. Working together, we will only create stronger and safer schools.
Dr. Becky J. Foley
Superintendent of RSU5