NHS Anonymous Letters Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

First and foremost, I wanted to thank those parents who came forward to share anonymous letters received in the mail that contained personal information and sexually explicit comments. While nothing in any of these letters posed threats of violence to anyone, they were nonetheless disturbing in nature. Based on a full school investigation today, November 24th, we were able to determine the responsible individual and deliver immediate and appropriate consequences as a result. Thanks to much of the information I received throughout the weekend, in collaboration with local authorities, school administrators were able to conduct a thorough investigation and resolve the situation in a timely manner.

Please know that due to the privacy rights of all students, any further details about consequences cannot be shared. However, I wanted to emphasize that all students are safe and secure at Newtown High School.

If you should want to speak to me directly, you can call me at the school or on my cell phone at 203-360-2566.

Sincerely,

Lorrie Rodrigue

Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue

Principal

 

Anonymous Letters sent to a few Parents

NHS Parents and Guardians,

I wanted to make you aware of a recent issue that occurred over the weekend, which impacted some of our NHS students. On Friday evening and into Saturday morning, several families reported that they received letters from an anonymous source that appeared to be word-processed, copied, and mailed to certain NHS students. The letter identified some basic information (such as name of student and address), requested further personal information from the student, and included explicit and inappropriate comments.

On Saturday morning, I discussed the incident with our Superintendent, Dr. Erardi, as well as following through with the Newtown Police. Several parents had already filed complaints with the local authorities, and we continued to ask other families who came forward to do the same. As a result, members of the Newtown Police are in the process of conducting an investigation, and we will be working collaboratively with them to determine the individual or individuals who distributed these letters. We will continue to monitor this and are asking any parent who receives a similar letter to notify the school and the Newtown Police Department. This will help facilitate a thorough investigation into this matter.

We are 100% confident that our students remain safe and secure at Newtown High School. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 203-426-7646.

Thank you,

Lorrie Rodrigue

Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue

Principal

Early Dismissal

Reminder: High School Dismissal

The high school is dismissing at 11:32 a.m. with a departure of 11:45 a.m. to head for the Middle School. While this is earlier than in the past, it has allowed for teacher collaboration and professional development as we move toward high school accreditation through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges).

No parent conferences were held on Monday. However, teachers met in professional learning communities and in departments. Teachers will also have time prior to parent conferences to accomplish ongoing tasks related to teaching and learning.

  • Professional Learning Community work– staff will reflect and analyze information related to instruction, assessment, and student growth
  • Collegial time to organize information, write, and finalize self-study reports for our upcoming accreditation
  • Other collaborative tasks in departments related to teaching and learning

Parent conferences will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, November 18 and 19, 1:00-3:00 p.m. and Thursday, November 20, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Principal Talks

Principal Talk Meetings will take place on the 2nd Wednesday of each
month at 7:00 a.m. in the Main Office. The focus of these conversations will be to listen to the “voices” of parents as we develop a clear vision for the future of Newtown High School.

Meeting Dates are:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

 

Lock-in Closed Update

Dear Students, Parents, and Guardians,

Now that the proverbial “dust” has settled a bit, I wanted to share some thoughts on the events that occurred yesterday at Newtown High School. First, I wanted to start by saying that we set out to do what we have done so well in the past – celebrate Veteran’s Day in honor of our local veterans. This included a luncheon and an assembly for 9th and 12th graders. To this end, students and staff, as well as invited guest speakers, provided a successful celebration of our local heroes. Members of the Navy, Marine Corps., National Guard, and local police were in attendance.

Nearing the conclusion of the assembly, I was informed that we had a potential threat posted on Facebook. A reference was made to a school shooting, which infiltrated our own Facebook page. Immediately, we secured the campus through a lock-in position, alerted local authorities, and deployed our ERT (Emergency Response Team). In-house security and administration were also involved in this timely response.  Our goal, first and foremost, was to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and staff by securing the school and its perimeter.

A decision was made to move into lock-in based on our information, in concert with local authorities, and until further investigation could be conducted. The lock-in position means that instruction and activities are not interrupted, only access to and from the campus is denied. At this point, information was disseminated to staff, and Dr. Erardi sent School Messenger alerts to parents. Since students, staff, and community members were in the process of leaving the auditorium, the decision was made to get everyone safely to where they had to be while holding others (including some seniors and local guests) from departing the building.

I must thank the parents who approached me last night and during this morning’s Principal Talk to share their support, understanding, and genuine feedback. None of this is ever easy, but our priority of safety and security is critical. Having just completed a lock-down drill the day prior, which requires immediate oral direction and precise protocols, we did not want anyone’s anxieties raised needlessly. While the local authorities and the FBI will continue to investigate this matter, we wanted to share the sequence of events and the unusual circumstances we had that compelled us to act swiftly, calmly, and quietly.

We know how sensitive Newtown families, students, and staff are to these events and the emotions that these situations evoke. Please know that we have your students’ safety in mind and will continue to make decisions that ensure their well-being.

Sincerely,

Lorrie Rodrigue

Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue

Principal

 

November Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope everyone is enjoying a restful weekend! A few items to share and reminders…

Monday, November 10

As part of a district-wide protocol, Newtown high school staff and students will participate in a lock-down drill at approximately 10:30 a.m. Students and staff have been made aware of this drill and are prepared in advance based on the protocols outlined in our district emergency plan. As I mentioned to all staff and students, this drill is NOT meant to disturb anyone but is a necessary practice in the event of an unforeseen emergency. Students with questions or concerns were asked to speak in advance to their advisory teachers. During this drill, staff and students will remain in silence, with lights out, in locked classrooms or areas of the building to simulate an actual emergency. Security and administration will check doors, hallways, and the overall follow-through during this drill. This drill should not last more than 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 11

A one-hour community forum will be held in the Newtown High School Cafetorium at 7:00 p.m.   The community conversation will focus on the current K-12 instructional lens in the district. We hope you can join us.

Just an FYI: Our annual Veteran’s Day celebration will also be taking place on November 11th. The event runs from 12:00 – 1:00 and students in grades 9 and 12 will be in attendance.

Wednesday, November 12

A reminder that our first Principal’s Talk will take place on Wednesday, November 12 at 7:00 a.m. for any parent who wishes to engage in an informal dialogue with the Principal. Light breakfast treats will be served. The topic of the first meeting will be Creating a Safe and Positive School Culture.

Thursday, November 13

Juniors and Seniors will review the details of a new Internet Café, which includes identified areas in and around the Main Lobby for quiet study and use of devices. Aside from a few original seating areas, upperclassmen will have access to new tables and chairs in a few designated areas as well. Having worked with groups of students in the development of this area, the purpose is to provide additional areas beyond the Media Center, cafeteria, or cafetorium for quiet study. This area will be monitored, and students will not be allowed to sit on the floor, bring food or drink, or use it as a social area. We will soon include charging stations for student devices as part of this area as well. While juniors have access, they will need to check into that area and remain there. Only senior privileges allow for moving from place to place.

Students will be asked to demonstrate their respect and responsibility for maintaining the area at all times and following through with expectations for a quiet study area. This will ensure the area remains open throughout the school year. Details will be discussed in an upcoming advisory on November 13 prior to the opening of this area for use.

Upcoming Events

Freshman Forum – December 3

Please mark your calendars for our annual Freshman Forum – which focuses on underage drinking and substance abuse. We encourage all freshmen and their parents to attend this informative event.

Newtown High School auditorium – 7:00 p.m.

We hope you continue to enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

Sincerely,

Lorrie Rodrigue

Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue