All schools in the Five Star District OPEN Fri., January 26

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 3:00pm
A Message from Superintendent Gdowski

District has resources to support families following a community tragedy

Dear Five Star families,

As a close knit community of schools, we are keenly aware that the death of the Adams County Sheriff’s deputy in the line of duty last night has impacted our families both within and outside the immediately affected area. Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Heath Gumm’s family, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and those impacted by this tragic event. During times like these, we find comfort in the strong community partnership we share in supporting the safety of our students, staff and families, and providing for their physical, social and emotional needs.

The safety and well-being of our students and staff is our priority. Given ongoing police activity in the area of 88th and Dawson Drive early this morning, and all of the information we had available at the time, the decision was made to close the Early Childhood Education Center, Bollman, Thornton Elementary, The International School at Thornton Middle, Thornton High, McElwain Elementary and Coronado Hills Elementary today because of their close proximity. Families in the area were encouraged to stay in their homes as police continued their investigation.

All other schools in the Five Star District remained open today, where school staff operated with a heightened awareness. This is a good reminder for families that we practice safety procedures throughout the school year and our staff makes security awareness a daily priority. We encourage families to take this time to make sure your contact information is currently up-to-date. During an emergency situation, we want you to receive the most accurate information and you can help by ensuring your information is updated.

We have received confirmation from law enforcement that activities in the area can return to normal. As a result, on Friday, January 26, 2018 all schools in the Five Star District will be OPEN and operating on a normal schedule.

Community Resources Following a Tragedy
Incidents such as last night’s shooting impact people in unexpected ways, even if they were not directly involved. Reactions can range from shock, sadness, fear or anger. Those reactions change throughout the day, and even for days to come. The Five Star District has a number of resources on the district website to support families and offer guidance on how to talk to children about tragedies such as last night’s. Please contact the school office if you feel your child is in need of additional support surrounding this event.

If you or your child need assistance beyond what is available at the school, we encourage you to call the Colorado Crisis Line at 1-844-493-8255.

We want to emphasize that school staff plays a critical support role in helping you re-establish a sense of normalcy and security for your child after an occurrence of violence. When your child is at school, you can be assured that the staff’s priority is supporting their safety and well-being. Below are key reminders that our staff focuses on everyday following an event such as what happened Wednesday night:

  • Reaffirm Safety. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Let students speak about their feelings and validate all reactions to the event. Help put their feelings in perspective.

  • Make Time to Talk. Let students’ questions guide the information provided. Be patient and look for clues that a student wants to talk.

  • Reduce Exposure to Media. This is especially important for young children (ages, 4-9), even if they are in the next room. Continued exposure to the coverage of an event can create more anxiety, expose them to information they weren’t aware of and make them believe the event is still occurring. This can inhibit their ability to move past the trauma.

  • Keep Explanations Developmentally Appropriate.

    • Early Elementary - provide simple information balanced by assurance of safety.

    • Upper Elementary and Early Middle - answer questions and assist in separating reality from fantasy.

    • Upper Middle and High - emphasize student role in safety and how to access support.

  • Observe Children’s Emotional State. Some will not express themselves verbally but changes in behavior, appetite or sleep patterns can indicate anxiety or stress. Please advise our counseling team of those students who are showing more intense reactions.

  • Maintain a Normal Routine. Keep a regular schedule to assure and promote physical and mental health.

Fostering a safe and secure environment is a partnership between staff, parents, students, law enforcement and the community. We value the priority our community puts on safety and thank you for partnering with us to focus on the safety and well-being of our students.

With much gratitude for your partnership,

Chris Gdowski
Superintendent