March 13 2019

Sandy Hook and Columbine Speakers Address Burlington School Department Staff

The Burlington Public Schools welcomed a pair of speakers on an important but difficult topic.

With support of the Burlington Police Department, Burlington Public Schools Faculty and Staff from all schools were able to hear Alissa Parker and Frank DeAngelis from Safe and Sound Schools, a blog from the School Department states. Parker is the mother of Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children who died tragically in the Sandy Hook School Shootings on December 14, 2012 and DeAngelis is the retired Principal from Columbine High School where 12 students and one staff member were killed in a school shooting on April 20, 1999.

Both Parker and DeAngelis shared their personal stories with faculty and staff members from across the school district, as well as some members of the Burlington Police and Fire Departments, the blog explains. Both speakers also answered questions from the audience at the conclusion of their presentations. The recurring theme for both speakers centered around the importance of having protocols in place and continually reviewing these protocols so that people can respond quickly should there ever be a crisis of this type. They also stressed the importance of positive relationships.


“The combination of preparedness and positive relationships are foundational elements of a safe learning environment,” said Superintendent of Schools Eric Conti.


According to the blog post, Parker and DeAngelis also discussed the fact that they have both found hope from their devastating experiences. A great deal of this hope is due to the protocols that have been implemented due to incidents like Columbine and Sandy Hook.


“Columbine represents hope,” DeAngelis noted. “Schools are the safest place and there is no telling how many of these (types of incidents) we have stopped.”


The talk was moving to everyone in the audience.


“Burlington Public Schools staff members were clearly impacted by the emotional stories shared by both Parker and DeAngelis,” the blog reads. “One Burlington Public Schools staff member summed it up as follows: ‘It was a very thoughtful and emotional professional development today with difficult but necessary conversations and insights. Let’s move forward informed, prepared, and compassionate.’”


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