High School Update

I just returned from the High School.  I spoke to Mr. Young, who is opening the front door and greeting all visitors. He said things are going well.  I talked with a couple of guidance counselors.  We have a few anxious students, but they are helping them.  I talked with a teacher and she said the students are mostly upset that the pep rally was canceled for tomorrow.

Our attendance rate at the High School is between 2 and 3 percent less today than a typical day.  The students and staff are doing a great job today.  I want to thank the parents for their understanding and patience in these difficult times.

The students have responded very well to being required to remain inside and navigate the hallways.  It makes it much easier to track students that should not be leaving the building.


Spaulding High School Rumors


Below is the Honeywell Instant Alert sent out last evening.  I will give you a current update on rumors associated with Spaulding High School.  The Police have not been able to find any legitimate threat.  The rumors seem to be facebook and social media issues.  It is easy to post hoaxes on facebook.  The Police and High School Adminstration are following up on all rumors.  I was at the school this morning.  The students are doing a great job with the increased security.  The change to restrict the use of outside doors to get to the Tech Center has increased the security in the building.  A safety team member is outside the front door, or inside the front door, to note everyone coming into the building.

Mike Hopkins


December 19, 2012

Good Evening. This is Principal Robert Seaward.

In light of Spaulding High School and the Rochester School District’s commitment to the safety and security of our students and staff, I am calling to inform you that it has come to our attention there are individuals spreading rumors regarding threats against Spaulding High School.

At this time school officials in cooperation with the Rochester Police Department are working to dispel the rumors.

The Rochester Police Department will be posting additional officers at Spaulding High School to increase the security of our school.

As a further precaution we have decided to suspend large student gatherings during school hours through the end of the week.

Thank you for your support.

Safety and Security

Everyone in the United States is saddened and worried about the events from Newtown, CT.  My concern goes out to the entire community of Newtown.  

I want to assure everyone that the Rochester Schools are focusing on the safety and security of students in all schools.  I will send out an email to all parents that have provided their email address via Honeywell or Infinite Campus. 

On Monday, we will have school counselors available to talk with any student that is upset in the classroom.  We have recommended normal routines in the schools, no large group events or meetings to discuss the incident.  This is not because we don’t care, but everyone advises us that getting students on normal routines, helps them the most. 

We have advised our teachers at the elementary level to try not talk about the incident with the entire class.  If a student brings it up, we will emphasize that our schools are safe and secure.  If the student is upset, they will be offered a chance to talk with an adult in a small group. 

You should know that every elementary school and the Middle School has all exterior doors locked.  Any visitors must be buzzed into the school.  Our staff will be reminded about the security protocol, but I am sure they don’t need a reminder.  If you come to the school, please don’t hold the exterior door for someone to enter the school, unless you know that person.  If you see someone enter the school, please make sure they head to the office. 

We practice the following emergency procedures. 

    1. Evacuation: get out if interior of building is not as safe as outside;
    2. Reverse Evacuation: go into the building if a threat is perceived outside of building;
    3. Shelter in Place: protection against a toxic plume (hazardous material, radiological, or smoke);
    4. Lockdown: protection from an intruder incident
    5. Secure Campus: used for a threat for the outside such as a armed robbery suspect in the area;
    6. Drop, Cover, and Hold: protection from falling objects and any other perceived threat.

I have included advice below from many experts.   One bit of advice that I would suggest is to limit the amount of television an elementary student watches.  It is clear that the media will be talking about this story for many weeks.  Setup a routine, especially at bedtime, to get away from the news.  A great time to focus on reading 20 minutes per day. 

Advice from the NH Department of Education

High-profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

1. Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.

2. Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.

3. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.

• Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.

• Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.

• Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society.

Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g., not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.

4. Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.

5. Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.

6. Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas.

Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.

7. Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.