Dear Cherry Crest Families,

We are deeply saddened by the shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday in Florida.  In the aftermath of such a horrific event, we want to share with you what we are doing to support our students.

Teachers, counselors, and school staff are available to provide support to discuss any feelings and concerns students have.  We will be carefully watching for signs of students who may need additional support.

High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten students.  Students will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react.

Cheri Lovre, with Crisis Management Institute, encourages families to treat their students as “the expert” when speaking with them about such incidents. So instead of mentioning the shooting and asking whether your student is anxious, consider framing it something like, “There was a lot of coverage on the news about the shooting in Florida yesterday.  When that happens, how do you think that affects (your peers) (students) (kids your age)?” And then just listen.  By doing this, students are able to provide the information they know, and share their concerns, which keeps the conversation going.  As follow-up questions ask your student(s):

  • What might help students feel safer in school?
  • What could parents do to help youth feel safe?
  • What kinds of things has your school done that address school safety?
  • What do kids wish adults understood about what it is like to be a teen today?

Additionally, below are some suggestions you could use to help your student(s) understand the tragic event and cope with their feelings:

  • Maintain your composure. Students model behavior and may look to you for cues on how to react.
  • Reassure your student(s) that they are safe.
  • Maintain normal routines. Students need a sense of stability.
  • Talk about the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner.
  • Be patient. It’s common for students to ask the same questions about death over and over.
  • Help students to express their feelings. If they don’t know the words to say how they feel inside, try to help them put their feelings into words and/or use creative ways of communicating, such as through art, writing or music.
  • Ask questions.
  • Make yourself available. Your student may need extra time and attention from you.

Parents are always an important part of the safety solution.  Clear and open communication, at home and at school, is crucial to creating and maintaining a healthy emotional environment.  Talking with students at home not only helps them practice sharing information verbally with parents or guardians, it encourages them to open up about what they are thinking and feeling.

We are here to support you as parents, as well as your student(s).  Please contact us directly should you have questions or concerns in the days ahead.

Regards,

Dusty Steere
Principal

Cherry Crest Elementary