Our Hearts, outside our body

Having a child is to "decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body" -Elizabeth Stone

Every day, I send my heart to school. They get out of the car with bookbags too big for their little bodies, winter hats already mussing up their ponytails, wearing jumpers and kneesocks. They kiss me, say goodbye and off they walk into school. 

Every day I drop them off, there isn't a time my throat doesn't catch as they close the door and I pull out of the parking lot. I should be worried if they will eat all of their lunch, or if they get along with their classmates, or if they should be more advanced in their reading level. I shouldn't worry there could be a safety incident.

Every day, my heart is across town. I can't be there; and parents at Upper Campus, you send your hearts to me. So I want you to be assured that while we can never guarantee a risk-free environment, we, the administration and faculty, are working hard to be proactive regarding school safety.

First and foremost, God is in our school. Our families choose Kennedy for an education that revolves around faith. We have conversations with students regarding choices and being kind, and our duty to service to others. We are a small school and my teachers know their students. They reach out to their students, the parents, and me when they think something may be going on. Our fall presentation with Sandy Hook Promise was well received by staff and students, and opened the door to conversations that may not have been had without that spark.

Our campus has been upgraded with a few security measures, with more on the way. We have new doors with limited glass panels and superior locking mechanisms. Bolo sticks were installed in each classroom to aid in a barricade situation. We have already established some protocols in each classroom: the window panes in each classroom are covered, or able to be quickly covered. Doors are locked so they can be quickly pulled shut. We have quotes for an upgraded camera security system and investigating solutions to on-campus communication procedures.

Staff has completed the first phase of ALICE training with the Warren City Police department. Our next training is on March 9 during the teacher in-service. We have plans for CPR, AED, and first aid training in the future. Our training is on-going as we constantly improve our preparedness. Our school safety plan is up to date and the Diocese has hired a former Homeland Security Officer on call to assist in our updates for the year. As we finalize some evacuation plans and lockdown procedures, students will be aware of the plans that we can share with them, as well as we will share with parents reunification plans and communications during a real emergency.

As in any emergency, spur of the moment decisions may be made by administration and staff, which require a needed change of plans. Our ongoing training and discussions will allow us to be mentally prepared when those decisions have to happen. What can you, as a parent, do to help?

  • Follow school safety protocols: Check in with the office when visiting the school during drop-off and pick-up especially.
  • Talk with your children the importance of following safety procedures, especially with issues like opening the door to someone, even if they know them.
  • If you see something, say something. Contact the principal 
  • If you own guns or other lethal weapons, be sure they are secure.
I know this is weighing on your heart. As a mother and as an educator, it is certainly weighing on mine. As a teacher, I was in a real lockdown situation. I did the barricade, we overturned desks, we talked about what happens if someone gets through that door. Luckily, it was a false alarm. But I know. When you offer up your prayers for your children's safety, remember the administration, staff, and faculty at JFK. We are working hard to make safety a part of the big job we have of educating your children. 

Please contact me with questions or concerns. My email is certainly the quickest way, and we can set up an appointment to talk. If you have time, talent, or treasure to share with us in our pursuit of school safety, please reach out. We are in this together.

All my best,
Alyse Consiglio
aconsiglio@warrenjfk.com

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