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(Updated 5 p.m.) Southington Schools 'On Alert' Following Shooting

Southington residents are mourning the death of 27 people including 20 children during a Friday morning shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, but officials have already taken steps to assure it won't happen here.

A 20-year-old gunman in a Newtown school shooting claimed the lives of 27 people including 20 children, officials said, and with concern of potential copy cat scenarios, Southington schools have been placed on high alert.

Staff with the Board of Education offices said all school administrators have been asked to keep a close and direct eye on entrances in the next week, a policy that was already in place, and beware of any suspicious visitors.

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School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said Friday that the district is in the process of creating a telephone blast to all parents and guardians explaining the situation and how Southington Public Schools are going to assure the safety of children in the district.

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School administration met Friday at 4 p.m. in the Board of Education offices at 200 N. Main St. to discuss the shooting and ensure policies in place are sustainable in the event that something should ever happen in town.

In a brief interview with the Record-Journal, Erardi said the discussions included precautionary steps that schools will need to take to help prevent any copy cat scenarios:

"We will be talking about the steps we need to take for Monday," Erardi said.

All afterschool activities have been cancelled today.

Soul Space Yoga & Wellness hosted a silent meditation Friday, pausing to remember those who were killed in the senseless Newtown shooting.

Conference Minister Chuck Wildman said that while it is important to keep the victims in our prayers, it is also important that the community respond through positive action and live in their name.

"As news unfolds and more tears flow, we will support one another as a Conference family of churches," Wildman said. "For now, please hold Newtown in your Sunday prayers and honor God's life and salvation among us in this season of Advent Good News by continuing with pageants, concerts, children's programs and the like. These life-affirming activities make a statement that God is with us and evil will NOT have the last word."

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Julanne December 14, 2012 at 07:53 PM
My heart goes out to all of those families. You are in my prayers. Julanne Carbone
hgjrealtor December 14, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Thoughts and Prayers to all of them.
E. Richard Fortunato December 14, 2012 at 10:36 PM
What a shattering blow to humanity that such a horrific tragedy could occur in one of our Connecticut elementary schools. How all of our hearts have to feel the pain of those who have lost a child they thought to be safely at school. One can only imagine how much we will hear and learn and the twists and turns this disaster will take in the foreseeable weeks and months ahead. God give us the strength to do what is right to protect our innocents regardless of politics and interest groups. Let us not make this into a liberal or conservative cause but an American and peaceful cause.
Gwen J December 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM
While we recognize the sorrow, one wonders how truly attentive our school officials are to site security for the teachers and, especially, the precious charges they have. For example, making staff more attentive to entry ways AFTER such an event (and probably not much longer after) is a worthless effort. Another example, I will bet that there are little or no security features in the current assemblage of buildings to limit access by outsiders. [For that matter, one wonders what the middle school renovation project includes when money was apparently found for a climbing wall?] It will be argued that these types of security (special locking doors, armed security, centralize security) cost too much money. But, honestly, we can afford a new playing field at the high school when one's not needed; shouldn't the safety of our children be paramount to all else? School officials need to place priority on needful things (a healthy and SAFE) environment before they place a priority on the discretionary. And they need to be actively involved in prevention and not passively involved in knee-jerk reactions.
Arthur Cyr December 15, 2012 at 03:03 PM
To Gwen -> I'll be *nice*. You posted "I will bet that there are little or no security features in the current assemblage of buildings to limit access by outsiders." You are 1,000% WRONG. To use your opposition to the Turf field or middle school renovations at this time of overwhelming grief is unconscionable. YOU are an insult to our teachers, our principals and our Superintendent Joseph Erardi who's FIRST concern is ALWAYS for the safety of our children. Cost is NEVER a concern. SHAME on you.
Tony Casale December 15, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I couldn't agree more Arthur, as someone who works within the system,I can attest to the fact that children are the number one priority. About checking doors AFTER the event, of course it brings a hightened sense of awareness to everyone, these things were done to ease tensions and for due diligence.
Arthur Cyr December 15, 2012 at 05:34 PM
MORE INFORMATION; It was not specifically stated in the article, but anyone not familiar with our schools should rest assured that Southington schools ALREADY has a locked doors and buzzer system in place at all schools. Staff is at the entrance doors when students are coming in and leaving. After that, doors are locked. Double checking all door locks in all our schools and reviewing policies and procedures for compliance is NEVER a worthless effort.
Deborah Garner December 15, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Safety comes from the reliance that othes who have been granted the same freedom of choice and and exercise of power will honor, love, cherish and respect life and humanity. We may need physical infrastructures of "security" to outline those expectations, but we also could benefit from a hope that God's creation is not moving progrssively towards a "nature of darkness," but is instead evolving toward an expression of his love and his light. Without out that hope, we have no saftey, we have no security and we will Never have peace.
KCJ December 16, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Tony, Arthur, I think Gwen's on the money and what better time to talk about it than when it's a hot issue. Four weeks from now, no one will want to talk about security. And if everything is so tight and secure, how come people still get into these facilities? Reading another paper, someone commented that they just walked in the front door at their local school, moved amongst kids, went into the office, etc., all uncontested. [I seem to remember I've done the same at SHS or one of the middle schools when I had to go there for something for my kids] I think it's shameful to pee on someone trying to deal with an important issue. [For Arthur Cyr, it's par for the course, even to the extent of writing the articles for the staff reporter!] And honestly I, too, kinda wonder why we have money for fun, pet projects but nothings ever doable with school safety. Gwen you're very right. Don't take Arthur too seriously -- he's our village idiot.
KCJ December 16, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Deborah, this is just what we need. Please contact Arthur Cyr and he will help you implement this with Dr. Erardi. He may even have further information after researching this.
Arthur Cyr December 16, 2012 at 05:10 AM
To KCJ - I don't take people seriously who hide behind initials or fake names. Tells me and others that they aren't telling the truth or don't have much confidence of their statements. And your personal attacks are the signs of ignorance. KCJ, you are either just wrong or it's been too long since you went to any of our schools in Southington. Every school has been locked for years and normal people have to push a buzzer and explain into an intercom why they want entry. OR shoot our one of the glass doors like he did in Newtown. Again, Gwen is 1,000% wrong. Tony knows that because he works in the Southington schools. Last time - all Southington schools are secure. And it is NEVER a money issue. There is a meeting Sunday night at 7pm at Derynoski Elementary. Show up and ask any question you'd like. Then you'll see who's the idiot. And that will be you.
Christina December 17, 2012 at 05:56 AM
KJC, you are not incorrect. In a Southington school that I am familiar with all one has to do is push the buzzer... Access granted without question, without concern as to why that visitor is there. Security is only as reliable as those who are charged with using it. Lets hope this incident doesn't heighten our awareness for just a brief period of time but rather for always.
JCR December 28, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Instead of putting all this blame on the principal why don't some of you parents do something about it? Like offering YOUR service to stand at the front door of each of the entrances to make sure you know who is coming in and out. That is what is called ensuring your children safety. Go to the meeting and listen to what the man has to say instead of calling out names. Cast the first stone if you don't have a sliver in your own eye. This is a time for us to mourn those lost angels and implement new standards to security NOT to mock what has been in place. Shame on You all for leaving bad remarks. Do something about if You do not like what is being done instead of sitting at home reading the paper via the internet and just leaving comments.

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