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Note from Superintendent Swanson: April 19, 2019
Dear Westminster Community,
It makes me so sad to have to write, again, about school safety. This week’s events show it is an issue that is not going to go away anytime soon. It is important that we are able to have honest, open conversations about real and potential threats, and that we share what we are doing to protect our staff and students.
I want to thank everyone in Westminster Public Schools for how they responded to this “credible” threat that closed schools across the metro area. After learning of the threat Tuesday afternoon, we acted quickly to impose a “lockout” at our schools that were still open and used a “controlled release” so parents could safely pick up their children at school.
I was part of the discussion late Tuesday night in which area superintendents rightly agreed to close schools on Wednesday. Safety must always be the highest priority.
WPS is also placing a special emphasis on providing emotional and psychological support to our students, parents and staff who are dealing with feelings of fear and anxiety.
As you know, Saturday, April 20 marks a sad occasion as we remember the 20th anniversary of the tragic events at Columbine High School. All of us remember where we were and what we were doing when news broke about an event happening just miles from where we live.
This sad anniversary is a reminder to all of us, that while schools are generally very safe places, we must always be vigilant about student safety and take full advantage of available resources and technology.
During the April 23 Board of Education meeting, I will update the board on what we are doing to keep our schools safe, and how we are using money from November’s mill levy override to upgrade our facilities, staffing and training. School safety is not just about securing buildings and working closely with law enforcement, it’s also about climate and culture. This week’s What’s Up WPS takes you inside one of our classrooms where “Rachel’s Challenge,” a program created in memory of the first shooting victim at Columbine, Rachel Scott, is being used to teach kindness and compassion. In addition, Rachel’s father, Darrell, shares his thoughts about this somber anniversary and how Rachel’s legacy lives on.
Finally, I’m proud to tell you that last week, the Mountain States Anti-Defamation League designated Westminster High School as a “2018-19 No Place for Hate” school. The honor is given to school buildings where staff and students have come together with a goal of:
“… creating a welcoming community committed to stopping all forms of bias and bullying, to speak out against prejudice and discrimination and to promote respect for individual differences.”
That describes not just Westminster High School, but the goal we have for all of Westminster Public Schools.
As we go into this Easter and Passover weekend, please keep the families of the Columbine victims, and all victims of violence, in your thoughts.
Dr. Pamela Swanson
Superintendent of Schools