Punxsy Superintendent responds to recent tragedy

Preparing for the worst but praying for the best

The horrific scenes of what took place on Dec. 14 at Sandy Creek Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., were broadcast worldwide within minutes.

These were unimaginable events that have left everyone wondering how something like this could happen.

In situations such as this, I believe we never truly understand the circumstances that lead someone to resort to such heinous and destructive behavior.

I have watched the news reports and spoken to many people about this tragedy. It is apparent to me that the school officials and community of Newtown did their best to prepare for this type of situation. The fact of the matter is that no plans are 100-percent foolproof against an individual determined to do evil.

As a result of this tragedy, I received many phone calls and e-mails asking what we are doing in the Punxsutawney Area School District in response.

The fact of the matter is that safety and security is an ongoing concern that requires vigilant attention. It is not something that is discussed only when incidents such as these take place.

In fact, several of our administrators took part in a crisis prevention workshop several months ago. The information they brought back was then shared with the entire administrative team, and we have been reviewing and updating our crisis prevention and response plan since that time.

There are many people in our district who have participated in training activities that focus on identifying and responding to situations and behaviors, which are not conducive to the overall safety of our students and staff.

We have put into place several security systems that are designed to deter detrimental behaviors. Each school building routinely conducts drills for fire, severe weather and intruder situations.

The district has a memorandum of understanding with both the local and state police departments that ensure cooperation with each other. Additionally, the school district encourages officers to conduct visits to the schools.

Although there are additional security measures in place within the district, they are not shared here…for security reasons.

It is sad to say that those who intend to do evil will find a way to do just that, no matter how many security systems we put into place.

If and when concerns are raised, we must do our best to reassure our students and parents that our schools remain one of the safest places they can be. 

If you have suggestions as to how we can improve the safety and security of our students and staff, please log on to the district’s website at www.punxsy.k12.pa.us and click on the link for Community Input.

Dr. Keith S. Wolfe is the Superintendent of the Punxsutawney Area School District.