We couldn’t help but notice that he refers to voters as “strangers” and later, anyone entering the schools as “visitors.” Is there something here that betrays a view of voters as being potentially dangerous?
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS
Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D.
The Superintendent’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
Garlic potatoes! Those two words sum up Thanksgiving for me. Year after year this one concern defines the holiday in our household: Who’s making the garlic potatoes this year? Who makes them the best? Who really makes them the best?
Thanksgiving! There’s nothing better than spending time at home with family and friends, or visiting others to share good cheer and food. The pressures associated with gifts and other holiday trappings are absent, leaving only simple worries, such as whether the garlic potatoes make it to the table. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is casual in dress, yet rich in conversation and spirituality. My Thanksgiving Day always begins with a traditional Turkey Day run with former high school track teammates. We may all be getting older, but we would never dare complain to each other about our aches and pains (that’s what families are for). Later we enjoy the three standard Thanksgiving football games: the Ridgewood High School game in the morning, our family game on the front lawn, and finally, the Dallas Cowboys on TV later in the day. (Yes, I did write the Dallas Cowboys!) This wonderful, long holiday weekend is an ongoing celebration of family, friends, food, and home — all the things that make us feel safe.
The Ridgewood Public Schools are our children’s “home away from home” each day of the school year, and this reassuring sense of place is sustained by district policies and procedures designed to make our buildings and facilities as secure and safe as possible. This fall our district has dealt with trespassers in two of our buildings, two precautionary evacuations due to the smell of gas at another, and concerns about strangers entering our schools to vote on Election Day. In each of these situations, good decisions were made in accordance with the high value we place on the safety of each and every child and employee. These instances also presented opportunities to test and fine-tune our district’s safety procedures. Election Day, in particular, provided a unique living history lesson for our students as they observed our neighbors at the voting booths. Every child had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness both democracy in action and history being made as the country elected our first African-American president.
We want our buildings to be a welcoming place for our children and visitors alike. It is especially important that visitors – including parents and guardians – can enter our buildings and see the enormity of the education process and the excitement and wonder in learning that happens inside. Every day, dozens of times, we welcome visitors as part of the valuable partnership we have with the Ridgewood community.
To safeguard this partnership, parents, guardians, residents and all others are asked to respect and follow the district’s simple but safety-minded procedures when visiting our schools.
Everyone, except our students and school staff members, must be buzzed into the school buildings and report to the respective main offices to sign in and obtain visitors’ badges. We cannot achieve our safety goals without the assistance and support of everyone working in the district, as well as the community at large.
Our district has three important communication avenues in place to contact family members, guardians and caretakers in the unlikely event of a weather-related, or other safety-related, emergency during school hours. The first is our Swift911 system, which was established last year to facilitate rapid contact with parents and guardians about emergency situations, school closings, early dismissals or other important issues affecting our students. This system allows us to send personalized messages to a home phone, cell phone, work phone or e-mail, and to reach the entire Ridgewood Public Schools family within minutes. Parents and guardians should take time to make sure that emergency contact information is up to date. The Community Pass system is the venue for reviewing that data.
In addition to Swift911, any urgent communications will be posted on the home page of the district’s website, where links to the pages on Emergency Closings and the Emergency Response Plan can also be found. Finally, for those who haven’t already done so, please sign up for the free rps.eNews service, which provides up-to-date district news via e-mail. In the event of an emergency closing or other urgent situation, an e-mail bulletin will be sent to all subscribers. Links for subscribing to rps.eNews, editing emergency contact information using Community Pass, and reviewing the District Emergency Information pages can all be found on the home page of the RPS website at http://www.ridgdewood.k12.nj.us.
Finally, if you are a parent and hear rumors that concern you, please reach out to your child’s Principal. Borrowing from a post-9/11 radio ad: If you see something, say something.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I hope you find time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures with family and friends. Whether it is garlic potatoes or some other favorite recipe, may it be sweet and delicious. I hope this Thanksgiving brings you all the hope and happiness that it brings me each and every year.