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It can’t happen in Saline…

February 17, 2018

It can’t happen in Saline. That is not a statement any of us can say or an assumption we can make.  That is not a statement any of us should think is accurate.  While we have not suffered a tragedy of the scale of what we all witnessed this week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – that doesn’t mean it can’t.  In fact, in my ten years as superintendent, there have been a handful of situations that I feel, if left undiscovered or unaddressed, could have led to a perilous situation for our students and staff.  

The key was – someone came forward. Someone – a student, a staff member, a parent, a community member – came forward and said something to the administration.  Our administrative team knows that every situation brought to our attention warrants investigation.  Many times the threat is not direct, and we can get help and support for the person involved.  Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding or a comment made in jest or out of a flash of frustration.  But, sometimes it’s more.  Here in Saline, we have had situations where it was more. And we were able to address it.

Throughout the Saline Area Schools, staff and students prepare for emergencies of any kind. Fire drills, weather emergencies, evacuations, and intruder drills are part of the school safety plan. The state requires compliance with a certain number of practice drills each year and those completed drills are posted on each school’s website. The District exceeds the number of drills and required training each year. Nothing is more important than the safety of every child and staff member. Still, it is unlikely that Saline – or any other school – is prepared for an event like a mass school shooting.

I don’t have all the answers for how we, as a society, can address this complex and troubling trend of mass shootings.  However, I do know what we can do in Saline – we can talk to each other about concerns and share it with the administration.

There is youth in every community. We know who those students are, and for the most part, we get them the help that they need. Sometimes, we miss those subtle signs that tell us a student is in crisis. Someone knows. Be that awareness through negative social media posts, a drop in grades, a sense of isolating oneself from peers, an uptick in substance use, we can almost predict the student that is troubled to the point of breaking. Please, speak up. Tell and administrator, teacher, counselor, or social worker. If anonymity is necessary, use the “OK2SAY” app and report what you know. I want to remind everyone in the Saline community that it is “Ok 2 Say” something when you see it, hear it or feel it.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2018 10:22 am

    Many of us have read of teachers of elementary school children looking for ‘patterns of loneliness’. I remember asking some teachers years ago if anyone looked for the lonely child on the playground or at the lunch table. The answers varied. If we can train our teachers that such insight from simple observations can potentially lead to early interventions, that would be helpful. What an impact in the lives of those children those educators can make. Please encourage all to do such things.

  2. Marta permalink
    February 17, 2018 1:14 pm

    There is a wonderful program called Every Moment Counts (www.everymomentcounts.org) that has been developed by an occupational therapist, like myself, and faculty member at Cleveland State University with the goal of building the capacity of school personnel to promote mental health. Model programs are being created in Ohio and the approach is still is a research phase, but I wonder if this is something SAS could look at? I know there is a student mental health initiative, but as a new parent in the district I’m still unclear about what that looks like during the school day.

  3. Lisa Housholder permalink
    February 18, 2018 10:57 am

    Mr Graden, we are a new family to the community this school year. I’d love to sit down and discuss a few observations we have made as outsiders coming into the community. We’ve been a part of so many cultures and systems as a military family of 23 years. This is the 4th school in three years for our kids, but we chose to settle here for good and give the girls some
    much-needed stability. My family and several others are deeply concerned for this community and would like to start and facilitate We Dine Together to nurture a tighter sense of community and inclusion in Saline. It’s not a solution, but it’s a start. When can we meet?

  4. Katie Mitchell permalink
    February 20, 2018 10:26 am

    Thank you, Scot.
    Keep talking and LISTENING to our teens. All of us.

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