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home : opinion : opinion May 30, 2016

1/4/2013 9:30:00 AM
Newton: How do we respond?
Remember the good folks
By Matt Charlton, Manson Schools Superintendent

When our first son was born a friend shared with my wife and I her belief that when you have a child your heart travels with that child wherever they may go. Three children and fourteen years later I now understand this to be true. It is at times petrifying to let your children out of your eyesight and only by placing a great deal of faith in our "fellow man" and for some of us a "higher power" are we able to cope with the pervasive fear of harm coming to our children.

When a tragedy like Sandy Hook occurs it shakes us to our core. We ask ourselves "what is this world coming to?" and wonder "who we can trust?" I hope that as we ponder these questions we look no further than to the educators and first responders (police, EMT's) in Newtown, Connecticut. For every sick or deranged individual that perpetrates one of these terrible crimes it is important to remember the millions of good and decent people who populate our communities and country.

I believe reasonable and measured action is called for in order to reduce the ability of "the few" to harm the rest of us.

Our schools must remain vigilant and prepare as best we can for all scenarios. As educators we instinctively know our first duty is to protect our students from harm. When I read of how teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary responded professionally and in some cases heroically, I immediately thought of Manson's teachers and could visualize them making the same choices in protecting our local children. As we continue to train and improve our readiness we must insure that our coordination with law enforcement and emergency responders becomes even stronger. We also must upgrade security systems (cameras, intercoms, lock mechanisms) in order to make our facilities less vulnerable and better equipped to protect our most valuable contents.

Our political leaders must assist law enforcement and health professionals in making information regarding potentially violent people more easily obtainable to appropriate officials.

Too often we find out after the fact that "warning signs" existed and that threats had been made. A "new" balance between the rights of the individual vs. and the safety of others must be created in order to prevent mentally ill individuals from harming themselves and others.

Finally, it disgusts me that fourteen years after Columbine I can easily recall the names and faces of the murderers but I struggle to remember the names of any victims (Rachel's Challenge aside). I worry that the name and face of Adam Lanza will now become embedded in my memory. Our national, state and even local media needs to recognize the contribution they are making to this violent epidemic. I have no doubt "celebrity status" contributes to the motivation of violently prone unstable people who see an opportunity to get the recognition and attention they crave by "going out with a bang." This can change immediately with media outlets refusing to show pictures of perpetrators and instead focusing coverage on the victims and heroes involved.

I believe our nation will adapt and deal with this issue as we have all other internal or external threats. Our resolve, collective strength and belief in each other will surpass any challenge set before us.

I do recognize that without action, gratitude might not always cut it!

I want to assure you that not only are we in full conversation about how to improve the safety of our students and staff and the buildings you work in, but that we have been engaged in this over the past couple of months.

Many of you are aware of the plans within the Capital Levy at CMS/CHS.

These include new door hardware, a keypad entry system for off hours, reconfiguration of the office to ensure a more focused entryway with a controlled and monitored access point, and security cameras throughout the building.

The conversation is also turning towards MOE as we see how we might create a more controlled entrance and one that could be more easily monitored.

Our crisis planning team met last week, and will be meeting again in January.

We have not only been looking at how we do/should/could respond to emergencies, but also how we conduct our lockdown drills as well as other emergencies like fire, earthquake, bomb threats etc. Another point of gratitude for me is that due to the advocacy of some of our staff, we are already in mid-stream around this conversation of safety and response.

Our crisis planning team will be putting together some recommendations for procedures and drills to help us be confident in what we need to do should a crisis present itself. Our Capital Levy projects will be re-examined to see what we might be able to accomplish additionally at MOE.
And for your part, please look over the multi-colored flip chart in your classrooms to re-familiarize yourself with what is in place already for the variety of emergencies listed in the Emergency Handbook flip chart. To help students and parents feel somewhat reassured, Officer Francis will be at MOE this week as he, Jeff and I meet and greet students and parents as they come to school.

Thank you again for the Honor of allowing me to be part of this district and see the many amazing acts of courage, compassion and love. You are all a gift to me this Christmas and I know the students and families feel the same way.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

Rob Manahan
Chelan School District Superintendent

Courage and faith
By Brian Burnett, Chelan County Sheriff

The tragic event we witnessed recently in Connecticut definitely sent shock waves across America if not around the World. I have experienced a multitude of emotions myself, as a Sheriff, community member and husband but most of all, a father. The innocence of young lives such as those that were taken is probably the most difficult to accept. Working as a School Resource Officer in the past is some of my fondest memories, simply because that young age is excited about everything. They rarely have negative feelings and are always eager to love and accept you.

Over the last week I have seen many different accusations as to why this happened or what to do to keep anything like this from happening again. Unfortunately we live in a world of unknowns and we, mankind, aren't in control of certain things no matter how bad we wish to be. Some would say gun control is the answer and others might say doing away with the violent video games and reality TV shows is the key.
We are definitely a drive-through nation. I want it my way, quick and fast, so I can be on my way without any delays or inconveniences. It took a nation to create this type of a problem but it will take a nation under God to fix it.

I believe the greatest sorrow in this is that these type of events create fear in our every day lives. I'm confident that your local law enforcement community will do everything in their powers to plan, prepare, train and help educate the public as to how to best prevent and even survive if this type of evil visits us up close and at home. We must do more as a society to raise healthy kids to help lead healthy families.

"Leaders leading leaders leading leaders."
I don't believe fear is from God but rather from the enemy, refer to 1 John 4:18.

"Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to proceed in the midst of that fear"

Brian Burnett, Sheriff

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