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At Comsewogue Schools, Focus on Unity, Safety After Newtown

Students wear blue and yellow to show support of Connecticut community.

Students arrived at Comsewogue High School on Monday morning wearing blue and yellow to show their support for the community of Newtown, according to Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Reph.

While Comsewogue colors are blue and gold they mirror the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School’s district, where a gunman killed 26 people - 20 of them young children - on Friday afternoon in the second worst mass murder in the United States. A moment of silence was held in the High School and the Middle School during the morning periods as well.

Reph said that on Monday morning Superintendent Joseph Rella called together the principals of every school building, district administrators and the president of the teacher’s union to review security.

“We had actually done this the month before,” Reph said.

At the last school board meeting the district had approved safety plans and district wide security. When asked if they will scrutinize their plans again after Newtown, Reph said that after an event like this there is a heightened sense of awareness.

“Anytime anything happens you evaluate your plan,” she said.

For students, the district had crisis teams set up in each school to address issues that might come up. At the high school teachers and principals reassured students that they were safe. In the elementary schools, teachers kept an ear out for any sense that a student was having an issue with the news or if a parent called the school to ask for intervention.

“If teachers overheard anything they’d come to them,” Reph said.

Superintendent Rella also made it a point to visit every school building during the day, according to Reph. The district also posted a document on how to speak with children about tragedies such as this.

The idea to wear school colors in solidarity with the people of Newtown came from the student government, according to Reph and was communicated by high school Principal Joe Coniglione. Reph said word then spread.

“It looked to me to be a good turnout,” she reported.

Over the next few days, administrators will assess students’ needs and try to respond to them.

“The school district has a very strong sense of community and giving back,” she said. “We’ll look to see what we can do to reach out to help.”

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