After a group of young children who were honored for their football accomplishments left Village Hall last night, Mayor Tim Baldermann asked everyone to share a moment of silence for the lives lost in the Newtown, CT school shootings last week.
"I wanted to wait until the kids left, because families handle things differently with talking about the tragedy," he said at the village board meeting
Certainly, children and parents across the country are asking now whether they will be safe at school in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting that left 26 dead, including 20 young students in Connecticut.
"That may have happened a long distance away from here ... but it touches us all," Baldermann said following the moment of silence. He commended the work of the New Lenox Police Department in taking extra steps to make local families feel safe.
Police Chief Bob Sterba said New Lenox police put one additional officer in each elementary school on Monday, and they'll remain there the rest of the week until winter break.
"We wanted to have a high-profile presence," Sterba said. "It's calming for the children and the parents."
Baldermann said numerous parents called the village and police department to thank them for that presence.
"Our police department does a great job being vigilant everywhere, on top of the resource officers we have in place every day," Baldermann said.
He said events like the Connecticut shooting are difficult to stop, "but we take all the steps possible. We have got an outstanding crisis plan in place through the schools.
"We're not a town that reacts; we're proactive. God forbid if something like that ever came our way, I'm confident in our school personnel and our trained police personnel."
New Lenox School District 122 board president Nick DiSandro said the board would discuss safety in the schools at its next meeting, which is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19.
New Lenox School District Supt. Michael Sass and Assistant Superintendent Peggy Manville immediately started reviewing the policies in place. This continued with talks into the weekend with the New Lenox Police. The New Lenox Police and the District Administration will be meeting to go over all aspects of safety for our kids.
Community Resource Officer Mike Jurka will also be reviewing safety drills with children over the next few days, DiSandro added. Jurka regularly conducts drills at the schools and reviews safety procedures with the students.
The district emailed parents tips for talking about the violence with children from the National Association of School Psychologists, communication that village trustee Ray Tuminello praised Monday night. You can read the Tips for Talking to Children About Violence or Helping Children With Special Needs Cope that District 122 sent.
"It really hit home today," Tuminello said, adding that his sister-in-law visited and said she was confused about how to discuss the tragedy with her 6-year-old son. "Just keep those families in your thoughts and prayers."
Read more: Patch has a site based in Newtown, CT, and you can read more of its coverage here—Newtown School Shootings: News Hub