Jewish Schools Ramp Up Security After Newtown

Rampage Tugs at Heartstrings and Provides Wake-Up Call

First Day Back: A Newtown student peers out of a school bus. Schools were open for the first time in the Connecticut town since the deadly rampage on Friday.
getty images
First Day Back: A Newtown student peers out of a school bus. Schools were open for the first time in the Connecticut town since the deadly rampage on Friday.

By JTA

Published December 18, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

At the Levine Academy in Dallas, Head of School Mark Stolovitsky said that in seeking an age-appropriate way to talk about the shooting, the events in Connecticut were explained in terms of Bible or Disney stories. Like the stories of Purim or Passover, the children understand the concept of a “bad guy,” he said. “We want kids to feel safe in school, but we also need to tell kids that there are bad men who do bad things,” he said.

Levine Academy is also considering a new school entrance strategy. Currently, only one of the school’s two entrances is guarded by armed security. After the shooting, Stolovitsky said his staff will explore ways for all all students to enter through the same door.

“I also think we need to change our mindset and be more vigilant,” Stolovitsky said. “Make sure you stop people wandering around your school you don’t recognize, even if they are smiling. And we need to keep practicing emergency drills, where children know how to hide out of plain sight. This is why we have drills. It’s unlikely it will happen, but we need to be prepared.”

While hiring armed guards and improving security systems might be obvious steps, school administrators also say they don’t want to turn their facilities into fortified prisons. Levine noted that at Sandy Hook Elementary, the shooter, Lanza, was able to force his way inside despite the school’s impressive security system.

“The Connecticut school was locked. They did all the right things, and this somehow happened,” Levine said.

“We have security cameras, we feel safe,” Stolovitsky added. “We could choose to have metal detectors and provide a whole new stage of security. But we live in an open, free society and this is a school. The security needs to be appropriate.”

Finell says the most important role for educators or parents briefing kids about the shooting is to remain calm. At his school, teachers led discussions about the shooting but waited for children in younger grades to initiate. The school is also planning an optional memorial service. Finell stressed the importance of not getting too visibly emotional.

“These kids are looking to us for their emotional cues,” he said. “We can’t show any fear or let them know how upset we are by all of this. We need to be reassuring at times like these and talk to them about all the safety precautions we are doing, show them that our No. 1 goal is to take care of them.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.