Divine Redeemer stresses school safety
FORD CITY – As news of the unspeakable school tragedy at Newtown, Conn., unfolded on Friday, Divine Redeemer School Principal Nicalena Carlesi put a call in to borough police.
Although the school, like other schools across the nation, has a safety plan in place, Carlesi wanted to know if there was more that could be done.
On Monday she reviewed drills and safety procedures with staff – and on Tuesday, Sgt. John Atherton stopped by to go over those procedures and offer suggestions.
“If there's anything else we can do, we want to know,” Carlesi told Atherton.
Carlesi's concern was in keeping with advice issued on Friday from Trent Bocan, superintendent of the Diocese of Greensburg when he notified all schools within the diocese to stay vigilant and to review all safety procedures.
Jerry Zufelt, managing director of the office for communications with the diocese, said that every school has a crisis management plan which covers school safety and security as well as emergencies including fire and storm events.
Plan reviewed yearly
He said principals are required to review that plan every year and adjust it according to changes in personnel, building configurations and other factors.
The question of whether or not staff should openly discuss the recent tragedy with students was left up to the discretion of the principals, said Zufelt.
Carlesi said that at the request of parents, teachers and staff will not address the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy with students.
If the subject comes up, students will be asked to talk about it with their parents, she said.
“No one, so far, has brought it up,” said Carlesi.
“So I'm assuming parents are shielding them.”
Prayed for victims
However, students and staff have prayed for the people of Newtown at their time of need, said Carlesi.
And although students may not know the details of the tragedy, they will each help bring comfort to the grieving community by decorating pages and cards with hand prints to be hung at the entrance of the new Sandy Hook school facility.
This request came from Newtown teachers who said the hand prints will convey the message: “You are not alone. You are loved. You are safe.”
On Tuesday morning, while students practiced for the school's Christmas concert at the front of the cafeteria, Carlesi and Atherton sat at a lunch table at the back.
They were looking over folders containing the school's emergency evacuation plans and codes used for alerting emergency responders.
Atherton praised Carlesi for the security measures already implemented while behind a partition, students sang the words to a hymn: “And we though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.”
Checked the school
Atherton accompanied Carlesi along the hallways, passing a row of classrooms and noted how the school was up to safety code.
“Being prepared gives you a better defense,” said Atherton, adding that police presence is one of the best deterrents in crime prevention.
“We're a couple of minutes away,” he said of the borough's police department.
Police keep watch
“Throughout the course of the day, we make a couple dozen passes by the Divine Redeemer and Ford City High School.”
Atherton and Carlesi stepped into the unoccupied kindergarten classroom.
The students were at music practice and their teacher, Jane Hulings, took a moment to reflect on last week's terrible incident at Sandy Hook Elementary.
“I can't watch the news,” she said. “Automatically you start to think, what would I do?”
Alert to surroundings
Atherton said people need to be alert to their surroundings and should alert police if they notice suspicious activity.
Carlesi said she has asked parents to pay attention to family members considered to be high risk and to let the school staff know.
“People are the first defense,” she said, adding that as a teacher “you are acting as a parent when you're in charge of these kids.”
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman hosts annual sale for artists in her Valley Township home
- Kittanning News carries latest books by Boarts and Creel
- Manorville man shares love for fishing
- Armstrong softball team sends off 41 Operation Christmas Child boxes
- Robbery nets stint in prison for Marion Center man
- Thanksgiving meal offers Ford City students a chance to learn
- Armstrong libraries offering adult coloring clubs
- Ford City executive sessions called into question
- Armstrong children can visit Santa in a quiet, calm atmosphere
- Kittanning Salvation Army kicks off holiday shoe drive