Dear Flint Hill School Families,
It saddens me that once again, I have to address a terrible event that has occurred in the world. So little time has passed since I last wrote about this kind of violence and shared my thoughts on how you could talk to your children about the tragedy in Paris. I concluded by asking for your thoughts and prayers for everyone affected, and sadly, our thoughts and prayers are needed once again for the community of San Bernardino, California. It is an unfortunate reality that we must continually think about how to keep our children feeling safe and secure, despite news reports that reflect a world that seems to have erupted in chaos.
I want to make you aware that during the past few weeks, we have been practicing A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) drills here at School. This is a new lockdown system that is intended to protect all of us in the event of an intruder on either of our two campuses. The idea behind A.L.I.C.E. is to be aware of danger as quickly as possible and then immediately react. Not just hide, but react based on the unfolding situation. For example, every office phone on the Upper School Campus has the ability to call into the intercom system to alert the entire building immediately if something is wrong. This kind of protocol and ongoing training are designed to prepare our students, faculty and staff to stay safe under circumstances we hope never to experience.
I also want to share with you that we are in the process of interviewing an incredible list of candidates to join our Security Staff. We have been absolutely stunned by the quality of candidates who have applied for the positions on this team, including former members of the Secret Service, FBI and local law enforcement agencies. They all have expressed an interest in helping us provide the safe and secure environment we all want for our students on both campuses. In fact, some candidates already have experience with local schools and have been engaged in issues ranging from cyber security to bully prevention, and work at every level of law enforcement. I am confident that we are going to find the right people to support us in this process as we move forward.
On a much brighter note, I’d like to reflect on some “mindful” steps we can take during this wonderful time of the year. This is a special time of the year to consider our great experiences, the beauty of light, and the joy of experiencing and sharing the great moments life can bring. To me it all comes back to three very simple tasks:
- Value every minute. Each moment is a precious gift. We should all make certain that every moment is a special one for our loved ones. This focus on wonderful relationships should bring a smile to our faces all day long — even when we are working hard and dealing with whatever the day brings us. We have this moment, and it should be appreciated and valued.
- Don’t be afraid to hug your kids. Hug your children and let them know that you truly care for them. Make certain they know you love them and that, together, you can get through the days in which the world feels like a very dark place by focusing on your own expressions, compassion, care, and support of each other. We are going to make certain that our children know that there are far better days ahead, and that we can make a difference and bring a sense of peace to our world.
- Again, listen to your children. Listen to their joys, excitement and concerns. Reassure them that in your homes and at their school, we are collectively focused on their safety, happiness, growth and development. We want to make every one of their experiences the very best they can be.
If we can be helpful in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Here at School you have many resources on which you can call. Our great Counseling Staff, our Division Directors, and our amazing faculty and staff are all here to help. Let’s celebrate the great School family that we have and the fact that, together, we are raising a generation of future leaders who will help the world be a better place in the years to come.
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas