"The major purpose of my existence is protecting children; I don’t understand how someone can be on the other end of that spectrum," Atwater Elementary School Principal Tim Kenney said.
Struggling to find the words to put perspective on Friday's grisly shooting that killed 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, CT, Kenney said he has experienced the gamut of emotions.
With school officials and district parents trying to make sense of it all, Kenney —who oversees the district's security procedures — said families will receive an email alert explaining that Shorewood schools are cognizant of the horrible tragedy in Newtown and safety within the district is a top priority.
“Obviously when something like this happens, parents are more than concerned, they’re scared,” Kenney added.
“We’ve prepared a letter that will explain a little bit of our security protocols,” Superintendent Martin Lexmond said.
The security protocols were developed by a village safety committee, Kenney said.
“We got a generalized set of protocols that came out of working with firefighters, police, school administrators and village health officials,” he said.
And every room in each school has a folder with steps to take for natural disasters, communicable diseases outbreaks and the presence of an intruder.
“It’s customized for each building,” Kenney said.
Shorewood High School went into a lockdown in early October, when a search for a Fox Point man led police to its parking lot.
Kenney said as soon as he heard about the shooting today, he contacted Shorewood police and requested more of a police presence at district schools.
“The idea in mind was to provide a sense of assurance, and calm, that we are handling this in the appropriate manner," he said.
Kenney said in February, district leaders will invite experts in the field of security to Shorewood and hold a special session to re-examine their protocols and look at best practice.
“I have a dual capacity in this district; I’m the principal of (Atwater Elementary), but I have three children that go here,” he said. “From my perspective, yeah, I have children that go here, but the safety of all the children here are just as important as the safety of my own.”
State Superintendent Tony Evers said Friday the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy will be a difficult time for parents and school children everywhere.
“We must support and care for our children as they hear about this tragedy and try to understand that which is incomprehensible and senseless,” he said.
It’s times like these that parents hug their children a little tighter, and others collectively contact their loved ones to share a reassuring word.
“I want to leave work early and go pick up my son from his K5 class at Lake Bluff and smother him with hugs and kisses," Valerie Murphy said on Facebook. "Prayers for all the people affected by this tragedy. It's a sad, sad day for America.”
Jenny Heyden, a resident who also writes for Patch, said she wants to figure out how to centralize communications in the village and gather to grieve during this national tragedy.
And reader Nancy Peske said, "I would like to know if we have a system in place for communicating about and dealing with mentally unstable family members or community members who have connections to our schools and may pose a danger."
The shooting serves as a reminder of how limited we as parents are when trying to keep our children safe, Melissa Hog Brousseau said.
"It's unsettling that schools, which were once thought of as safe and nurturing environments for our children, are now potential battle grounds," Brousseau said. "As parents we already worry about our children's futures and the challenges they have to face. Now we have the added concern over their safety and inability to protect them in any environment."
As the global community continues to keep its collective gaze on Newtown, you can follow the latest updates by visiting our Patch partner in Newtown.