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School Tragedy in Connecticut


Superintendent’s Message to the Community About the Newtown, CT Tragedy

In light of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, I assure you that the safety and well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority.

There are not enough words or explanations to describe the sadness that this community must feel. My heart goes out to them. While there is no plan that can totally prevent a random act of senseless violence like this, District 62 has a school safety plan in place that has been reviewed by the Des Plaines Police Department and practiced by our staff. There always are lessons learned from each incident and as those emerge, the District’s plan will be reviewed to implement those lessons learned as appropriate. Our staff is working to ensure that we are prepared to assist in any way that is appropriate.

While children might not be immediately impacted by this tragic event, they may have questions or concerns that parents might wish to discuss. Please know that District 62 has social workers and school psychologists that are available in each building should parents have questions or concerns. I encourage them to contact their principal or teacher for support.

Please keep the Newtown victims, families, and community in your thoughts and prayers. The District 62 community shares the desire to keep all children and staff safe and will work together to accomplish this.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jane Westerhold
Superintendent of Schools


For additional help please visit Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/aftermath.aspx


The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut yesterday morning has evoked sadness, grief, anxiety, and anger. Children who are struggling with their thoughts and feelings of the shooting may turn to trusted adults for help and guidance. We offer these suggestions as you talk to your child:

  • Limit media exposure – Limit your child's exposure to media images and sounds of the shooting, and do not allow your very young children to see or hear any TV/radio shooting-related messages. Even if they appear to be engrossed in play, children often are aware of what you are watching on TV or listening to on the radio. What may not be upsetting to an adult may be very upsetting and confusing for a child. Limit your own exposure as well. Adults may become more distressed with nonstop exposure to media coverage of this shooting.
  • What does your child already know – Start by asking what your child/teen already has heard about the event from the media and from friends. Listen carefully; try to figure out what he or she knows or believes. As your child explains, listen for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns. Understand that this information will change as more facts about the event are known.
  • Gently correct inaccurate information – If your child/teen has inaccurate information or misconceptions, take time to provide the correct information in simple, clear, age-appropriate language.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions – Answer those questions directly. Your child/teen may have some difficult questions about the incident. For example, he/she may ask if it is possible that it could happen at their school; he/she is probably really asking whether it is "likely." The concern about re-occurrence will be an issue for caregivers and children/teens alike. While it is important to discuss the likelihood of this risk, he/she is also asking if he/she is safe.
  • Be patient – In times of stress, children/teens may have trouble with their behavior, concentration, and attention. While they may not openly ask for your guidance or support, they will want it. Adolescents who are seeking increased independence may have difficulty expressing their needs. Both children and teens will need a little extra patience, care, and love. Be patient with yourself, too!

Providing a safe learning environment for our students and safe working environment for our staff is something we take seriously and is our first priority. Additional information and resources are available online from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, www.nctsn.org. If you or your child needs additional support, please contact your school principal.



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Leon Smaage
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777 East Algonquin Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016-6281
847-824-1136