Hello Families & Friends of ARHS,
I hope this message finds you all in good health & spirits.
This has been an emotionally challenging, but calmer week. We are still mourning the loss of Anna Burns. Additional counselors have been at school to help support our students and adults during this difficult time. One of our fantastic teachers had her class create some chalk art (see pictures below) to help our students cope with Anna’s tragic loss. Other teachers have had their classes write cards for Anna’s family. Those cards were delivered to their family Thursday afternoon.
I’d like to thank all of you who have reached out with supportive and encouraging emails, phone calls, and letters in response to last week’s events. All of us who have received them, greatly appreciate you for taking the time to make that thoughtful gesture. Those meaningful messages make a big difference and help us maintain our strength so we can continue to educate and support our amazing students.
I know you are all curious about how we are dealing with the student/students responsible for setting the two fires in the boy’s bathrooms last Thursday. The only thing I can legally say is that the Amherst Police Department and I have taken this criminal act extremely seriously. The safety of everyone at the high school is my number one priority. And I will deal with any threat to that safety swiftly and firmly.
We are also reviewing our communication protocols, in hopes of getting information to families a little quicker. Many families heard from their children before they heard anything official from the school about the early dismissal last Thursday. There were many factors we were taking into consideration before the final decision was made to send students home. Once that decision was made, it took time to arrange transportation for our students. We have a contract with the Five Star bus company to provide transportation for our students, but those drivers do not work in our school district, so finding out when they could have drivers available took additional time to arrange. We wanted to give families detailed information at one time, instead of bits and pieces of unclear information through multiple messages. While we were making these arrangements students who overheard adults talking began calling and texting their families. No adults were trying to stop students from communicating with their families. This is why many of you heard about school closing early from your children first. I know it may have been quite alarming to hear that news from them, and I am sorry about that. Our top priority was making sure everyone on site was safe, and then to communicate with families. We are all thankful that everyone made it home safely that day, and we hope we never have another emergency school closure again.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.