Our first week of school is behind us and, Hurricane Dorian aside, it was a smooth opening this year. It is truly inspiring to see the eagerness on the faces of elementary students, the curiosity on the faces of middle school students, and the focus on the faces of our high school students.
As we begin another school year, we are continuing our efforts to keep your children and our employees as safe as we possibly can. This summer, in conjunction with a number of community partners, we held an exercise aimed at increasing all our effectiveness in ensuring safety in our schools. My reflections on that exercise are below.
You may have heard references over the years to the “Chesapeake Public Schools Educational Family.” In my “Listening and Learning Tour” this past year and in surveys submitted by employees and community members, I learned that one of the greatest assets we have is our “family” feeling in this school district.
On their best days, family members work together for common goals and demonstrate their genuine care and concern for one another. On Thursday, August 15, members of our elected bodies, public safety entities, and school staff demonstrated that this family extends well beyond the confines of our school district.
Months of planning and training culminated in a joint Active Threat Response (ATR) activity at Hickory High School. A small group of police officers created an active threat scenario to help us put our safety training and protocols to the test. Hickory High School administrators and several HHS teachers participated in the drill and performed their specific roles as they would on a regular school day. School-based administrators from around the city and central office administrators served as “students” for the exercise.
From start to finish, all participants exhibited an attitude of total commitment and teamwork during the training exercise. As an observer, I saw school administrators, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and others working together as a team to practice putting safety protocols into action. As a result of complete engagement from all of our partners, everyone involved learned a lot about keeping our students and staff safe in the event of an active threat. As a result of this meaningful learning experience, CPS will continue to work with our partners to make additional improvements to our current safety practices and protocols. Indeed, the information gleaned from this experience is invaluable.
Overall, this experience has reminded me of how fortunate we are to have incredible partners in our city who work so closely together to keep our community safe. I am honored to be a part of the Chesapeake “family.”