Michael Needham talks to students

To reassure students and help keep them safe, grades 7-12 heard from safety experts and local police during an Oct. 21 school-wide assembly.

“Your safety is the most important thing to us and you play an important part in helping keep each other safe,” Principal Jacqueline Hill told students. “This is probably the most important assembly we’ll have this year.”

Michael Needham, the district’s safety and health consultant, and Lt. Jon Reickert from the Schodack Police Department reviewed school safety procedures such as lockdown and fire drills. They also reviewed building safety features such as crash bars on exit doors that ensure they open during an emergency and strong, fire-resistant classroom doors.

“Schools are safe, they really are. I always like to remind people of that when talking about school safety,” Mr. Needham told students. “You are more likely to be hurt away from here, than here. Our building is set up to help us if we have a situation.”

Students learned about safety procedures such as what to do in a lockout or lockdown situation. They also were urged to “see something, say something” when they have concerns about someone.

“This is not about punishing people,” Mr. Needham noted. “It’s about helping people who are struggling.”

The Dignity for All Students Act, which requires schools to provide an environment free of discrimination or harassment, was also reviewed. Mr. Needham noted DASA is an important part of school safety because it helps prevent conditions that can lead to school violence.

“Everyone has a right to come to school here without the fear of being bullied or harassed,” Mr. Needham said.