Like every parent, Adam Levy of Canton was horrified after hearing the news that multiple people, including children, had been killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a place he once called home.
“I am deeply horrified by the thought of what has happened in the quaint town I spent nine years in,” Levy said. “I am thankful that we moved to Canton six years ago as my fourth grade daughter would have been there today had we stayed in town.”
The tragedy has devestated the state and nation. Canton, like so many other towns, has planned a candlelight vigil. It will take place Sunday, 5 p.m. Several local clergy and town officials will participate in a short ceremony, which will be held at Canton High School.
Levy has two kids and neither attended school in Newtown but he says it could have happened in any town.
He also wants to know what steps local officials can take.
“I want to know what will be done to ensure our children's safety moving forward as this could just as easily been Canton,” he said.
Friday afternoon, Superintendent Kevin Case sent a message to parents.
"I want to assure you that we have safety and security procedures in place in all of our schools here in Canton," Case stated. "These procedures are practiced regularly with the assistance of the Canton Police Department. Normal protocol is that all doors at each of our schools are locked with everyone needing to enter the schools through the Main Office areas."
If a tragedy were to occur, the schools would use its parent notification system, Case said.
Case also said that as a precaution, he asked police to have a more visible presence at the schools.
The Canton Police Department has emergency notification systems to alert the community, internal emergency response plans and works together with neighboring departments , chief Christopher Arciero said.
Arciero added that the department will follow the "after action review" of this tragedy.
"Canton Police Department will follow the developments and the after action review of the Newtown tragedy and adjust plans and practices as necessary," Arciero said.
In addition, Case sent his condolences to the affected families.
"I know you'll join me in keeping the families at Sandy Hook Elementary School in your thoughts and prayers," he said.
Another question on parent’s minds is how to talk to their kids about the tragedy. Canton Public Library has shared a list of resources shared by their counterparts in Darien. It can be found here.
The American Psychological Association has these tips and Friday Cherry Brook Principal Andy Robbin sent this letter to parents.
Dear Cherry Brook Community Members,
In light of recent events, I wanted to take a moment to assist you in helping addressing any questions or situations that may come up with your children as a result of the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. These events can be frightening for children and parents, especially when they occur relatively close to our own community. We at Cherry Brook are happy to assist you with any concerns to best help our children.
Consulting with our school’s psychologist, Kerry Brickel, we would like to offer 3 strategies for dealing with children who may have an emotional reaction to tragic incidences.
1. If you speak about the tragedy with your children, limit the scope of your conversations to the questions driven by the children.
2. Reassure your children that they are safe in their home and in their school. Make time to talk with your children and validate their feelings, whatever those feelings may be.
3. Consider limiting the amount of news coverage you have on at your house. The media may expose children with graphic images that can be disturbing for children as well as adults. This may occur with on-line content in addition to television.
For an additional resource, please read through this article from the National Association of School Psychologists, "Talking Points with Children." It offers some great perspectives and practical advice for adults as we assist children in their navigation of their feelings and responses to these rare but shocking moments.
We will be providing the same talking points to our staff at school to best support any children that need our support in the upcoming weeks. We continue to work cooperatively with you as we enhance the learning and development of our children. In addition, I ask you in continuing to offer support and thoughts to the families in Newtown who have had to endure this horrible event.
As always, feel free to contact me if you need anything.
Know of more local vigils or services for the victims? Tell us in the comments.