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.
Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue