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Joyce Endee

In wake of tragedy, school officials remain diligent

Increased safety measures discussed

by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
December 21, 2012
REGION — With the recent event in Newtown, Conn., letters were sent home to students and messages were echoed on the Web site of the schools in Alton and Barnstead.

At Prospect Mountain High School, Superintendent Robert Cullison wrote in a letter posted on the school's front page of its Web site and gave encouragement to members of the community.

He talked about a teleconference that was held over the weekend between superintendents, Governor John Lynch and other state officials. Cullison talked about ways to move forward and offered several resources for people to look towards.

Cullison closed his remarks with sentiments to send down to Newtown.

"Please remember the children, staff members and family of Sandy Hook Elementary School in your thoughts and prayers," Cullison wrote. "Thank you for your commitment to one and other as we work to make our school a safe place for learning."

John Fauci, the Superintendent at Barnstead Elementary School, also talked about the same teleconference and about increased measures for safety at the school that were implemented at BES in an open letter to the community in Barnstead.

Fauci offered resources for parents to turn to and asked that people follow the advice of Robbie Parker, the father of six-year-old Emilie Parker, who lost her life at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"Let this inspire us to be better, more compassionate and caring toward other people."

Fauci wanted to assure parents and members of the community that BES is a safe place to be.

"The important message that I heard loud and clear was that we need to assure our students, families and staff at Barnstead Elementary School is safe and secure, and that we have the proper protocols in place to deal with such an emergency." Fauci wrote.

In Alton, a letter was sent home to parents and parents with students in grades four through eight were given the option to have their children discuss the events of Newtown with a school counselor.

On Monday morning, the administrative team met with Sean Sullivan, the school resource officer and Police Chief Ryan Heath to review the incident and discuss approaches. The letter details a summary of the meeting.

It was agreed that an assembly with the whole student body wasn't needed, and for the remainder of the week, school employees were placed at each of the two main entrances in the front of the school and the doors leading to the modular classrooms towards the back of the school.

Additionally, all doors are locked during school hours.

During last week's, Alton School Board meeting, the board approved putting out a request for bid for a keyless entry system for the building.

Superintendent Bill Lander has hopes that this system will be in place sometime in February.

Another change was made in regards to parents picking up and dropping off their children. They will no longer be allowed to enter the building and wait in the main foyer, they will have to wait outside.

Lander wants members of the community to know that the school is safe and keeping it safe is a challenge members of the administrative staff is up to.

"I think the biggest challenge is for everybody to know that we as safe as we can be," Lander said. "The need for continued awareness for security is permanent."

Lander wanted to emphasize that the protocol may change, but that the dedication to keeping the building secure won't.

"I just want to stress that we are not going to let up on security after this week," Lander added. "We will continue to be diligent in making this school secure. Protocol and procedures may change, but the security will be in place."

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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