There are specific times when the honor and responsibility of serving as Superintendent converge for me in deep and personal ways. At 10 o’clock this morning, the middle and high school students in Pleasanton evidenced poise, respect, and a belief in themselves as they participated in a nationwide demonstration to remember the lives lost in Parkland, Florida last month. Some students also made the choice to keep their focus on work inside their classrooms. The teachers and staff at our schools were there to support them, regardless of the choice they made as individuals. In addition to our school and District personnel, the City of Pleasanton, with guidance from the Pleasanton Police Department, provided support as the morning progressed. I could not be more proud of the way our community collaborated to ensure the safety of our students.
Student leaders organized respectful gatherings on campus, which included peaceful assemblies, short marches, and other displays of support for the 17 lives lost, as well as productive conversations around school safety. Consistently, each assembly quieted to silence as students paid tribute to those for whom they gathered to remember. Following these events, students returned to class to continue their learning and to reflect on our District Mission Statement: “Our students will make a better world”. We respect the right of our students to advocate for causes that are important to them and will continue to support their efforts to do so in an respectful and inclusive manner.
Please join me in thanking our students for the way they conducted themselves today. Regardless of their viewpoints, I witnessed respect for the opinions of others and a desire to communicate about issues of importance to them at very personal levels. I would also like to thank the district staff and parents/guardians for helping supervise gatherings without inhibiting the discussions of the students. I believe our students felt respected and empowered and are grateful for your support and encouragement. This respect and empowerment went a long way in replacing feelings of powerlessness and fear sparked by the events in Parkland.
That said, we understand that students may continue to feel anxiety, fear and even anger about the events in Florida. Please know that we are here to work with you as you become aware of these concerns. I am linking several resources, which are posted on the District website. I ask that you reach out to school staff, should your student need additional support. Today’s nationwide event has initiated a critical conversation around school safety and student social-emotional support, which we are committed to continuing with our students, our staff and our community.
Thank you for your continued support.