Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Open Letter to the Mountainburg Community Following the Newtown Tragedy

Dear Friends,
            As with all of America, my thoughts and prayers go out for the people of Connecticut. Something unimaginable was imagined and carried out upon the most innocent of people. Columbine and Paducah and Jonesboro and so many others have made our country painfully aware of gun violence in high schools and middle schools carried about by children; this is something different, though, perpetrated by an adult on mere babies.
            My heart has been heavy all weekend. I have tried to block the scenes of horror that came into my mind Friday afternoon when I first heard of the place called Newtown, but they keep coming back. I cannot fathom the pain or confusion of that community, of that school, or of those families; I just know my hurt.
            Everywhere I went this weekend, people looked at me with a look that said, “What about our town? What about our school?” I am the principal of two of our schools, so people looked to me, and I read the thoughts that were etched across their questioning faces: Are we prepared? What would we do?
            It is Sunday night as I write this, and tomorrow morning Mountainburg Middle School and Mountainburg High School will hold an assembly of remembrance for those who died, a sign of solidarity with Sandy Hook Elementary School; tomorrow we also begin a re-evaluation of ourselves. Our administrative team will meet in the coming days, weeks, even months to ensure our plans are adequate. In the coming days, weeks, and months I will ask my teachers to develop plans of actions for their individual class rooms. In the coming days, weeks, and months we will consult with law enforcement officials to examine our school and our lock down procedures. We will do all that we can to protect your children and keep them safe.
            We desire to be prepared. We have a good school. We have a safe school. And we want to keep it that way.


Jason Rutherford, Principal
Mountainburg Middle School
Mountainburg High School

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