Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The impact of our choices and consequences of our actions

In light of recent events, it is important that I take a moment to address a serious incident that occurred in our district earlier this week.

I learned last night that a 17-year-old Watervliet High School student was arrested and charged in connection with the recent threats made against the Jr./Sr. High School. The threats were called into the Watervliet Police Department and resulted in an emergency evacuation drill, which disrupted an entire day of instruction and created considerable anxiety in the community, especially among parents and students.

The decisions made and actions taken by the suspect not only disrupted the education of the 700 students and staff at the Jr./Sr. High School, but it also had an impact on the students and staff at the elementary school, as well as parents of elementary children. 

I was saddened and disappointed last night after speaking with Chief Boisvert and learning that the suspect in this case was one of our own students. Even so, the threats that were made clearly violate the school’s Code of Conduct and this individual will now face disciplinary action in accordance with district policy, as well as the criminal charges.

As serious and unsettling as this situation has been, perhaps it can be used as a teachable moment. Life is a series of choices and consequences. One poor decision can sometimes put you on the wrong side of the law or worse; whether it be perpetrating a criminal hoax against a school, or getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using drugs. It is important to think before we act, and ask: Is what we are about to do going to harm others or ourselves? Is it the right choice?

As we approach the end of the school year, and students begin thinking about prom season and graduation celebrations, I implore all of you to make good choices, to treat others with respect and to not act recklessly. Know that your teachers, guidance counselors and building principals do care, are available to listen to your concerns and offer advice, if asked. I also encourage parents to be involved, and help your children make the right decisions. 

Finally, I must again thank our teachers, staff, students and parents for their patience and cooperation throughout the incident earlier this week, and our building principals and administrators for keeping cool heads and ensuring emergency procedures were followed. I also express my gratitude to the Watervliet Police Department, Chief Boisvert, state and other local law enforcement agencies, emergency responders and city officials for their assistance. Safety was our top priority that day and every day, and by working together, we made sure all students got home safely.