2012-12-13 / Front Page

Newtown Massacre Has Ties to Local Region

Plus, local school security roundup
by Eric Gross

The pain and sadness of Friday’s unthinkable massacre in Newtown is being felt throughout the U.S. this week but in two communities abutting Putnam County, the sorrow runs deeper.

One of the children gunned down by the crazed murderer was seven-year-old Daniel Barden, the son of Pawling Elementary School teacher Jacqueline Barden.

The school psychologist killed when rushing towards the mass murderer along with the school’s principal when shots were first heard, Mary Sherlach, 56, was the daughter of Jay Sherlach, Pawling’s retired Elementary School principal.

The community plans to hold a service in memory of the two victims on Monday evening.

In North Salem, meanwhile, Superintendent Ken Freeston, who resides in Newtown and served as the Connecticut’s school chief administrator for a decade before relocating to North Salem, told parents via email that the district is “ready to support individual students who are having a particularly difficult time processing the tragedy. Let your school administrator know if a child needs an extra watchful eye. Working together we can provide young people with confidence that there are adults in their lives to whom they can turn when times are difficult.”

School security is now front and center for many parents. Schools in Brewster, Carmel and Mahopac already have security measures in place. Some buildings have front doors that are locked at all times and guests are "buzzed in" after properly identifying themselves. Others have a monitor stationed at the front door who asks for ID and the reason for the visit before allowing the person to proceed into the hallway.
Employees in each of the three districts must wear school identification tags while guests are issued a paper ID that is afixed to the garment.
Brewster, Mahopac and Carmel each have two SRO's assigned to their district's high school and middle school. On Monday, the deputies not only patrolled the secondary buildings but also walked the halls at the various elementary and intermediate schools.
From an instructional sense nothing was mentioned about the massacre unless a child brought up the topic. Guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists were available to talk with students if necessary.
In North Salem, a lock-out was imposed Monday after a report of a man with a gun was observed in the vicinity of the Ridgefield School District in Conn. The lock-out prevented anyone from entering the district's two buildings or high school seniors from leaving the campus although school activities within the schools went on without a hitch.

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