School protects children’s safety

3 Nov

From drugs to missing children

Our schools tend to be taken for granted.  Drop off the kids, head to work and no worries, right?  Wrong.  The administration and staff are dedicated professionals that assume responsibility for our kids, and that takes a lot of courage.  Last week was about drug awareness and Red Ribbon Week, but there is way more to it than that.  Another paramount concern is knowing where our kids are, making sure that they get home and protection against abduction.

The weakest link

Last week the Burns school system, LCSD#2, let out early for teacher’s in-service.   They sent out the calendar a long time ago, gave all parents more than enough notice to make arrangements.  The issue is when the parents forget; ie. me.  Exactly.  It was the most terrifying moment I can ever remember. There was a miscommunication in our household that left me without the knowledge of this half-day of school.  The first I knew about was when my oldest son, 12 yrs old, walks in the front door with this look of “where were you?” on his face.  I was stunned.

From amber to relief

My first question was “where are your brothers?” and his response, typically pre-teen, “I dunno.  I just walked home.”  I’m concerned, but not panicked.  I hop in the car and drive up to the school where the other two should be waiting.  They’re not there.  OK, AI go into the school office.  Not there either.  Here comes the panic.  The staff in the front office immediately go to work, checking with bus drivers and teachers and other staff while I fall apart.  I start driving around town looking for them, and called my wife with the horrendous opening line “they’re missing!”  She starts making calls while I continue to drive.  Just as I am bout to call the police, I get a phone call from the school saying that they found the kids.  This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, so the staff knew just where to look and who to call.  My boys had walked to a friend’s house, whose older brother took them to the town library because he knew it was a safe place and that a lot of kids ended up there.  The school called the library, where they found the kids and then called me.  All was good.  By the time I got to the library, the school’s principal was there with the kids. The principal himself turned out to help on his own time.  I guess he gave a pretty good lecture about not wandering off and staying at the school while I was on my way.  The boys were contrite and subdued when I arrived.

Rambling writer

The point to all of this, other than getting it off of my chest, is to bring awareness the outstanding job of our school systems staff.  They are more than just educators (and babysitters in the eyes of some) and deserve recognition for their caring.  They don’t just pay lip-service to things like Red Ribbon Week or Stop Bullying or Stranger Danger.  They live them.

My heartfelt thanks go out to:

  • Connor Gaines; the older brother that looked out for my boys and stayed with them at the library.
  • Julie Taylor; front office at Burns elementary.
  • Jerry Burkett; Principal of Burns elementary.
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