Local schools, police react to shooting
Updated: December 18, 2012 1:57PM
As details of the horrific school shooting in Connecticut Friday emerged, local schools and police collaborated to provide a sense of security to Lake Forest and Lake Bluff school students and their parents.
Efforts began Friday afternoon as school administrators in Lake Bluff District 65, Lake Forest District 67, Lake Forest Country Day School and others issued e-mails to parents with information on how best to talk with their children about the tragic shooting spree that left 26 elementary school occupants dead, including 20 young children.
On Monday morning, uniformed police officers appeared at several local schools.
“We had a police presence outside both our schools,” District 65 Superintendent Jean Sophie said Monday. “Many parents commented that it was wonderful. It was just to remind us that they’re there and we’re all a community.”
In Lake Forest, uniformed officers stopped at several schools to make contact with office staff and to let children and families know they are available. Lake Forest Police Chief James Held expected the presence to continue through the week.
“We’re reassuring everyone that we’re here, that we’re close,” Held said. “We don’t want to put anyone in a panic mode.”
School psychologists and social workers were in schools Monday morning and remained during the week.
“We only had one little girl at Lake Bluff Elementary School who we felt needed to talk briefly with a social worker,” said Sophie. “It was very quiet. Business as usual.”
The reaction was much the same at in District 67.
“It was very quiet. Very few children had questions or comments about the incident. Only a couple of kids asked their teachers if they had heard about it. There wasn’t much follow-up conversation,” Everett Elementary School Principal Ingrid Weimer said.
At Lake Forest Country Day School, Head of School Michael Robinson said middle school students Monday made large greeting cards for the community of Newtown, Conn., where the shooting tragedy occurred.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to do something tangible,” Robinson said.
The shooting has caused school and police officials to take another look at their emergency plans, which all schools assess regularly.
“We’re going to take this opportunity to take a top-to-bottom look at everything we do,” said Robinson.
In District 65, Sophie said a meeting with first responders had already been set up for January, prior to the Connecticut shooting.
“We’re required by law to do this once a year,” she said.
Weimer, who is in charge of the District 67 Emergency Management Plan, said the incident “did prompt us to be reviewing our plan, particularly our visitor management protocol.”
“We’re making sure we’re doing our due diligence and making sure people take time to verify visitors,” Wiemer said.
While Wiemer said she feels the district has a good plan in place, “there’s always a need to review what we’re doing and communicate out and partner with parents and police to keep the kids safe.”