Schools show solidarity, awareness in the midst of tragedy

Sobrato students make cards for Sandy Hook victims and their families

Gilroy and Morgan Hill schools are flying their flags at half-staff Monday and Tuesday to demonstrate solidarity and support for the 26 victims – 20 of whom were children – slain in the mass school shooting that devastated the idyllic community of Newtown, Conn. Friday.

“We are all saddened by this horrific school shooting,” said Superintendent Debbie Flores with the Gilroy Unified School District. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the children and staff who lost their lives today.”

Principal Marco Sanchez with Gilroy High School said he received a few calls Monday morning from concerned parents wanting to be reassured that GHS’s security measures are up to current standards – which they are, Sanchez confirmed.

Many of the school sites in the Morgan Hill Unified School District have come up remembrance activities to honor and support the grieving community of Newtown, said MHUSD Superintendent Wes Smith.

Students at Sobrato High School, for example are making cards that will be sent to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the mass shooting occurred. Live Oak High School is honoring victims with a moment of silence.

MHUSD is working with law enforcement and mental health experts to provide support for students, parents, caregivers and staff. The district has counselors and psychologists on hand at each school site.

District management staff will meet with law enforcement experts this week to review the district’s security procedures and protocols to ensure they reflect current best practices, Smith noted.

County health experts are also offering advice to help cope with the tragic shooting incident, according to a press release from the Santa Clara County Department of Public Affairs.

“The tragedy in Connecticut is a painful reminder that violence in America is an epidemic. Preventing violence is a priority for the Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System,” the release states. “The Public Health Department and Mental Health Department work with the entire community to address this problem everywhere – in our homes, schools, faith-based organizations and neighborhoods.”

The county reminds that it is “important to acknowledge and validate a child’s feelings, as well as to listen carefully and reassure them that they are safe. It is equally important to answer their questions, (while at the same time) not offering information they’re not asking for, which may generate unfounded fears.”

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