Forum to gauge school safety
Ryan Summerlin March 1, 2013
A tragedy like the one that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut this past December always gives rise to questions. People want to know how, they want to know why and often they want to know if something could have been done to change the course of that awful day.
In Kremmling and the surrounding area, the vast majority of the community’s children attend the West Grand School District. Those four hundred plus students go there to learn, to play and to interact with other students and teachers. It is unthinkable that a shooting could occur in an idyllic setting like Kremmling. The students of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine High School, Platte Canyon High School and Nickel Mines, Pennslyvania (Amish school shooting) thought they were just as safe.
A community meeting is being held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6 at the West Grand High School auditorium to provide a forum for an open discussion about school safety in West Grand. Those who attend will learn what is being currently done in the West Grand School District to ensure school safety. They will also have a chance to provide ideas for actions that the West Grand School Board will consider for implementation.
The initiative is being led by the Forward Motion Committee, an independent group of local citizens that has as its goal to, “Ensure a safe learning environment that fosters trust and confidence among parents, children, their school and our community.”
The evening of March 6 provides the forum for citizens to work with local authorities to take steps to help prevent a tragedy from happening at West Grand
There will be several guest speakers prior to the community discussion. Terry Vanderpan, West Grand Superintendent, will outline what safety and security measures are currently in place. Robert Gaskamp, special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation will talk about national, state and local trends. Scott Spade, Kremmling Police Chief, will provide a synopsis of what happened at the Newtown tragedy.
The keynote speaker will be Larry Scott, who is the uncle of 17-year old Rachel Scott, the first person killed at the Columbine tragedy in 1999. Larry Scott also had a nephew who was present at the high school that day. He will describe some of the events of that day but his primary message, as a representative of Rachel’s Challenge, is a message of kindness and compassion. His is a powerful message and one that captivates audiences.
After the speakers, a discussion will ensue. With the help of moderators, individuals will given the opportunity to provide ideas and thoughts that could improve school safety and prevent acts of extreme violence.
To keep the discussion on track, people will be asked to give suggestions in a succinct statement. It will not be the place to debate issues like gun control, Second Amendment rights or the erosion of family values. It will also not be the place to argue politics.
The Forward Motion committee will compile the suggestions, thoughts and ideas into a report that will be presented to the West Grand School Board of Directors. The purpose is to present to that board the thoughts and concerns of the community. It will be up to the West Grand school board to determine what measures can be taken to help prevent a tragedy in Kremmling.
School safety is a shared community responsibility. All members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend. The best discussion will happen if there are as many members of the community as possible in attendance. The hope is that the auditorium is packed with people interested in doing all that they can to ensure safety in our schools.
There is no charge to attend the meeting, but there are costs associated with providing the forum. Contributions can be made to the sponsoring agency, the West Grand Community Educational Foundation, c/o Safe Schools Fund, PO Box 1542, Kremmling, CO 80459.
The members of the Forward Motion committee are, Perry Handyside, Susan Billington, Martha Schake, Scott Spade, Dave Jones, Heather Bentler and John Kossler.