Forestville school board talks safety

FORESTVILLE – The incident in Newtown, Conn., last month has schools around the area talking about safety.

The Forestville Board of Education addressed the incident at its regular meeting Thursday night. Elementary Principal Daniel Grande said he addressed the incident locally the Monday after the shooting.

“We felt it necessary to immediately change a few things that we do in the building to make the students feel safer,” Grande said.

In the past, parents in the elementary school were able to walk directly into students’ classrooms. Monday after the shooting, Grande required all visitors to sign in at the office. Parents are no longer able to walk into classrooms during the school day. If the student needs something from his or her parent, school administration will call the student out of class or a faculty member will bring the item to the student.

“(Walking to their child’s classroom is) something that parents have been accustomed to doing for years. I thought it was going to be met with a little bit of resistance, not a single parent complained about it,” Grande said. “Some people thought it was an inconvenience but after a couple days … the parents looked at it and said ‘This is good, but we still want more.'”

Grande said he has spent many hours talking to parents via email and on the phone assuring them their students would be safe.

Parents wanted the assurance their child’s safety was the most important, Grande said. He said his number one priority is “a safe environment in which we can provide a quality education.”

The district has also met with New York State Police and Silver Creek Police Department. Mem-bers from both law enforcement agencies will visit the school and walk through with administration and discuss safety measures. The district will continue to work with Silver Creek Police to keep the school resource officer position.

Superintendent Chuck Leichner also discussed changes to the elementary school.

He said the school should add a receptionist window and should have the school secretary be able to buzz visitors through the door.

“We’ll be working to put in a receptionist window. …Visitors would be able to get in out of the weather through the first set of doors and the second set of doors would be locked down,” Leichner said.

In addition to discussing safety measures, the board heard a presentation about how high school students are trying to make a difference in the lives of students affected by the tragedy in Newtown. Global Studies students in Jennifer Mos-cato’s classes started making friendship bracelets.

“I felt that maybe there was some way that our students, knowing how thoughtful, considerate and generous they are, there was some way we could show those students in Connecti-cut we’re thinking of them,” Moscato said.

Students began making the friendship bracelets as a freshman and sophomore project that expanded throughout the full school. More than 150 bracelets were made and will be shipped to students affected.

Accompanying each bracelet will be a note stating, “This friendship bracelet was made by (name) to let you know that a friend in Forestville, New York is thinking of you.”

On the note is also student drawn hands in the shape of a heart. Students Tyler Grisanti, Sarah Pleva and Emily Narraway presented the project to the board at the meeting. The high school student council reimbursed the costs for all the materials. The students said they would love to receive something just to know someone out there was thinking of them during a time of tragedy.

“I know that if I was in Connecticut and a shooting happened in my district … I would love knowing that a school out of state is thinking of me and whatever happened to my school months after the actual tragedy itself,” Narraway said.

Board President Syl-vester Cleary and Moscato both said they were proud of the students for taking on such a great task.

“That’s so moving. Here again at Forestville, one good idea and you get everyone to buy into that idea … that shows consideration for folks that we don’t even know,” Cleary said. “That’s just absolutely wonderful.”

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