15 Sep 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by orangeleafma
Patch Instagram photo by orangeleafma
Patch Instagram photo by paw_vet

Parents, Schools do their Best to Make Life Normal for Students

Increased police presence, resources still offered in Canton this week.

The violence in Newtown was still fresh on the minds of many in Canton Monday, especially as students returned to school.

For many parents, it was hard to let little ones out of their site, knowing that so many of the victims were just 6 and 7 years-old.

Sandra Laviana-Aitken said she made sure she and her children took the time to exchange the words "I love you" before they went to school.

Kevin Maguire acknowledged he was anxious when Canton Patch put the question on social media.

“But no matter how much we want to, we can't wrap them in bubble wrap and put them on the mantle,” he said.

Maguire said it was a great help for him when he went to Cherry Brook Primary School for lunch and recess as part of a pre-planned visit and witnessed people outwardly caring for one another and learned it was free hug day in his kindergartener’s class.

Tragic events can have a lasting effect on a parent. Cindy Panioto told Patch that her son came home from the hospital the same week the Oklahoma City Bombing, which took the lives of many children at a day care. 

"He is now 17 and not a day goes by since those horrible images came screaming into my living room that I am not anxious about him and his safety," she wrote to Patch on facebook. "I am anxious when he gets in the car to drive to school, go to town, anywhere that is not in my direct sight. The only thing that keeps me from meltdown is my faith and trust in God and remembering that no matter what it seems, the good guys really do outnumber the bad guys. And yes, I hug him every time he leaves me and I tell him I love him."

In an e-mail letter to parents Monday Cherry Brook principal Andrew Robbin acknowledged that the students’ knowledge of the Sandy Hook shootings varied and that it would be hard to entirely prevent conversations about it.

The school is ready to respond to students individually but is not facilitating group discussions on the matter.

“If students bring up issues with Sandy Hook spontaneously in a whole class setting, our teachers will confirm that we are safe at school and move on to the teaching point. All staff have been instructed to be mindful of conversations and help remediate any situations that occur,” Robbin wrote.

In his letter to parents, Canton Intermediate School principal Kevin Hanlon said students were talking about the issue enough that it needed to be addressed, which it was with a moment of silence and a reiteration that the students were safe.

Hanlon said the school is working on ways to perhaps honor the victims or host a fundraiser but yet not overexpose the students.

“Please know that we are carefully considering the delicate balance of providing a safe and meaningful way for the CIS community to reach out and help others, with the potential overexposure to this unimaginable event,” he wrote. “I am confident that we will find that balance, and be able to show what a truly caring community we are.”

Police have an increased presence at schools this week and the department has also begun meeting with school officials and others this week to review safety procedures. 

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