There have been some changes at Princeton Public Schools since Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn. that left 28 people dead.
The main atrium doors into Princeton High School were locked on Monday and Tuesday and discussions are continuing over whether to continue that practice, Superintendent Judy Wilson said.
Police have stepped up a visible presence around all Princeton schools, especially during arrival and dismissal times, said representatives of both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township Police.
Still, the raw grief and emotion that has gripped a nation for the better part of a week was evident during Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.
“I wanted to say on behalf of the board that our hearts go out to the school community of Newtown, Connecticut, and to all school communities that have had to deal with unspeakable acts of violence,” Board President Timothy Quinn said. “While this heinous act will continue to spur many substantive discussions about violence in our society and about school safety, speaking personally, I don't think I'll ever forget the principal and school psychologist who ran TOWARD gunfire and the teachers who shielded their students from bullets. Their actions were brave, selfless and student-focused.”
Quinn said he learned about Friday’s tragedy when Judy Wilson interrupted a committee meeting to relay the news. While upset, Wilson’s immediate focus was on action and a short time later, she reported that principals were walking the school halls of the schools, police had increased patrols, and that she was crafting an email to the school community, he said.
“I want to thank Mrs. Wilson for her timely, decisive and thorough response and I'm sure her leadership was reflected in the actions of faculty and staff in all of the schools,” Quinn said.
Wilson thanked the school community and said her priority was on making sure students and families felt safe when they returned to school on Monday.
“To an adult, despite the heaviness of grief, all the adults- nearly 600- came together to make sure we could look into the eyes of children and make sure they knew they were in safe and caring place and that we were there to look after them,” Wilson said. “Those of us who live and work in schools, know all too much and all to well what life in classrooms is like, and so we carry and extra layer of grief.”
Despite this grief, Princeton High School student and board representative Adam Ainslie said PHS students focused on the future.
“With Hurricane Sandy and all that’s happened over the past week, it would be very easy for PHS students to be pessimistic,” Ainslie said. “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about PHS students and this community, it’s that we’re focused on hope and optimism. We’re ready to move forward and prepare for our winter holidays and break.”