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Posted: September 13, 2019

Comfort and Safety

A message to APS employees on school safety from Superintendent Raquel Reedy

The students at Eisenhower Middle School mailed cards to children in El Paso, encouraging them to stay strong, be brave, keep safe.

"Don't cry over the past. It's gone. Don't stress about the future. It hasn't arrived. Live in the present, and make it beautiful," wrote one student.

None of the hundreds of cards sent to schools in our sister city mentioned the mass shooting at a Walmart that killed nearly two dozen people, hurting and terrifying many more. None said anything about the horrifying act that disrupted back-to-school shopping at a place so familiar to children.

The students at Eisenhower created the compassionate cards during their advisory class on a day that fell between mandatory evacuation and active shooter drills. The cards didn't have to mention the shooting; it was on everyone's mind.
That's our reality, and so we deal with it.

I appreciate all of you who participated this month in the active shooter, fire, and evacuation drills. I know they are disruptive, but I hear they all went smoothly thanks to great planning, coaching, and execution.

I commend all of you who talk honestly but carefully to our students about why we conduct these drills and take them seriously. You walk a fine line in preparing students without terrifying them.

I am grateful to all of you who have worked over the past couple of years to make our schools more secure. From the locksmiths who update classroom locks to the maintenance crews who stretched fencing around our school grounds to the office staff monitoring every visitor, we all play a role in keeping our campuses safe.

I know some safety measures such as restricting school entrances are sometimes a bit inconvenient, but I haven't heard many complaints because we all understand these are necessary evils.

I wish we could go back to a time when we didn't have to talk about active shooters, shelters in place, ALICE training and the like. But since we can't, I appreciate the compassion and professionalism you all use when dealing with these issues.

The good news is none of this has kept us from our mission of teaching and learning, supporting and caring as we prepare our students for promising futures.

As she read some of the warmhearted messages written by her students, Eisenhower science teacher Lynda Hahn commented, "The world's going to be OK."
I agree.

Take care of yourself, stay safe and thank you for keeping our students safe, too.