Fall in the Valley is a beautiful season.
As we wrap up our first month back in school, routines have been established, drills have been conducted and we are settling in to what has been a wonderful school year thus far. I wanted to focus on our efforts to keep our students and staff safe. Safety is always our paramount concern. To that end, I also want our community to know there are things you can do as concerned citizens to support our drills, counseling and very tuned in staff to keep us all safe.
First, have conversations with your children, grandchildren and neighbors about the power of their words. We have formed a coalition with the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office and all Districts in Eaton County to conduct Threat Assessments when students make threats or act in ways which cause people concern. Statements can be perceived by people as dangerous and given the sad state of aggression in our world, we must always take these threats seriously. Family systems are really powerful places to help our students understand how to manage their thoughts and feelings and seek appropriate ways to express themselves without threats of violence or harm.
Second, always reach out to our staff if there is a concern or knowledge about a student or community member who is a danger to themselves with suicidal thoughts and statements or a threat to others. We will utilize in school resources to investigate and determine if the student or community member needs support, discipline, or a combination of interventions to keep them and others safe.
Finally, download the OK2Say app. OK2Say allows people to confidentially report potential harm before it occurs. The program’s 2020 Annual Report showed there were 3,743 tips spanning 31 categories, with the top three tips being: Suicide threats -896 tips, Drugs - 456 Tips and Other (e.g. Anxiety, stress, depression, harassment) - 436 Tips. OK2Say is available 24/7 and tips can be submitted in the following ways: Call OK2Say (855-565-2729), Text OK2Say 652729, Email OK2SAY@mi.gov, OK2Say Website 222.ok2say.com, or get the OK2Say mobile app.
When tips are given, law enforcement reaches out to our district as appropriate to advise us of the concern and provide support as needed. Should something arise over a weekend, late night or even on holidays, this is the best way to get notice to first responders and the district of the concern. Any person can use this reporting system to get help for people who need it. If you see something, say something. Better to err on the side of caution to get the danger of the situation evaluated than to say nothing. It takes community to look out for each other. That is one of the greatest hallmarks of the Valley. We watch out for our kids and our neighbors. Thank you for helping us as we work to build the safest possible system in which to education our kids.
Remember, this is the year of Fun and Joy! Stay tuned for details of our Homecoming Week which is shaping up to be a really fun filled week leading up to the Homecoming Game on October 14th!
It is a Great Day to be in the Valley!