Our Opinion: Use your summer wisely

There is nothing quite like that feeling of summer vacation for students. After months of waking up before the sun and worrying about assessment testing, summer has always been a welcomed break from the academic year. We would venture to guess students are more anxious these days than they have ever been for break.

Sadly, gone are the times when some of the biggest hardships faced were waking up early or preparing for the test or even remembering to bring gym clothes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday or who to sit with at lunch.

The stresses today’s youths face are much more involved.

There are new lessons in school now — ones that will not be reflected on a report card or offer better chances for admission to the college of choice. They are lessons that could save lives. And that’s a lot of pressure on a 10-year-old.

As tragic events unfolded across the nation throughout the school year, our local students have learned what to do should their building come under attack. Some learned where their assigned hiding spaces were in each classroom. Others were taught how to distract an intruder. All were warned multiple times about zero-tolerance.

And when all the training was done, we ask these kids to put it out of their minds and get back to the matter at hand — learning.

Easier said than done.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic potion to take us back to the days before school shootings and other disruptions of threatened violence were a regular occurrence. But we think while school officials and law enforcement are making decisions daily to make our school buildings safer, the rest of us can do our part to ensure students are healthy — mentally, physically and emotionally — for the start of a new school year.

Let’s use this time to work together, to talk with our kids, really talk to them, about the changes in this world and how those changes are affecting them. Let’s ask them for input on how we can help them feel more comfortable at school. Now is not the time to sit idly by and hope for the best.

Let’s think about the many threats that interrupted learning this year as administrators scrambled, often times overnight, to find the answers they needed to keep the students safe by the ringing of the first morning bell.

“We are seeing three basic types of scenarios right now: threats to the school as a whole; threats to individuals or a couple of people who are known; and inappropriate comments that aren’t threats,” Warren County Superintendent Amy Stewart said in March.

“It is difficult to paint these all with the same brush,” she said. “Everyone involved is being consistent with similar threats, but not all threats are the same, so they aren’t treated the same.

“(But) we are continuing to reinforce that they (students and teachers) need to report ANY threat,” she said.

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