|About Us > Featured
Attention School Community
During the past week, many rumors regarding threats to school
safety have circulated at Prairie High School. As is the case with all rumors,
many things have been exaggerated and embellished. Unfortunately, it is not
possible to stay ahead of the rumor mill in an age of instant communications.
understand that safety is a very important ingredient in learning and student
success. We take student safety issues very seriously. The recent rumors have
caused a disruption to the learning environment at Prairie High School. While
we cannot communicate about student discipline investigations, suffice it to
say that our staff has spent countless hours visiting with students, parents,
agencies, and law enforcement to ensure that Prairie High School continues
to be a safe place for all students. We appreciate that students care about
their school and are open and willing to express those feelings to staff and
administration. As we have identified those who are fostering fear, we have
taken steps appropriate to the situation.
There have been lots of “rumors
of threats” – but no direct,
specific threats of school violence have been identified. Rest assured, the
administration takes all threats - including rumored threats - very seriously
and is taking appropriate precautions.
There is no evidence of gang activity
in any law enforcement sense at PHS. Adolescents are social beings. If they
like people in a group, they call them “friends”.
If they don’t like, know or understand people in a different group, it
is tempting to give them a negative label, i.e. “gang”, “clique”,
etc. The surest way to encourage real gang activity is to make any group feel
unwelcome, alienated or disrespected. Both adults and students must rise above
that very easy temptation.
We need everyone’s cooperation to bring this
episode to a positive conclusion!
Our young people are learning how to handle
conflict that exists in their world. Will they learn to talk things out? Confront
in a positive way? Ignore? Avoid?
Seek to understand others? Forgive? Forget? Move on? All are strategies mature
adults use on a daily basis to handle conflict. The vast majority of our students
will learn those skills as they move toward adulthood, too. That is what we
want for every one of our students.
What can students do? Please practice restraint
and respect in communication with others - both personal and electronic. Disrespecting
others whether on-line
or in person is a sign of immaturity that will not serve our students well
in the real world. Students can and should help their friends understand the
value of appropriate, respectful messages. If our students take a stand, it
will make a difference. If they are aware of threats of any kind they should
report them to adult authorities. On issues like these, students are either
part of the solution or part of the problem.
What can parents do? Please talk
with your children about respectful and responsible communications. Then monitor
their social networking and IM sites for appropriateness.
Parents have always understood that just reaching the minimum age to drive
does not mean a student is a mature driver. So parents set reasonable restrictions
on their children’s driving privileges. If experience reveals a young
driver is not ready for that responsibility, many parents “pull the keys” for
a while to teach a valuable lesson. In the same manner, just because a young
person can use a keyboard without looking does not mean he/she has the maturity
to communicate appropriately with the whole world without reasonable restrictions.
I encourage every parent to monitor that usage and insist that the student’s
communications are always appropriate. If they are not, “pull the keys” on
that device as well. If parents observe threats on those sites, they need to
turn that information over to authorities. As adults, we are either part of
the solution or we are enabling the problem to continue.
At school we will continue
to be vigilant and to talk with students about their responsibilities to each
other. By their interactions with one another, our
students are actually building the “community” they will live on
a daily basis. The huge majority want their school to be a calm, caring, supportive
environment that includes all students. Please join them in working to ensure
a safe school community.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter!
Richard T. Whitehead
Superintendent of Schools