Assemblywoman Jenne Talks School Safety with Watertown City School District Students

April 30, 2018
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Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne recently spent time at Watertown High School listening to students' concerns about school safety.

She said she made the visit after receiving postcards from Watertown City School District students sharing their concerns about school safety in the wake of the attack at Parkland High School in Florida in February that left 17 students and staff dead.

Watertown school officials had staged an activity on the one-month anniversary of the school shooting, and school staff had encouraged students to share their concerns with elected officials representing the area.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she was moved by a letter she received from students at Wiley Intermediate School and by postcards penned by high school students.

She said she felt it was important to sit down with the students and listen to their concerns. The school visit was planned on the day when schools around the country were holding events to mark the 19th anniversary of the April 1999 Columbine school shooting that left 12 students and one teacher dead.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she met with a class at Wiley Intermediate School before sitting down with two groups at Watertown High School.

"I expected there would be thoughtful dialogue, and there was. There were clearly kids that had different views than the majority of the students, and they were treated with respect by their peers. It was a positive and thoughtful conversation," she said.

"The discussion ranged from gun violence and the motive for kids that are involved in these horrific incidents to the need to expand the availability of mental health services for young people and bullying,” she added.

She started her visit to the high school by sitting down with students in the journalism and AP English classes.

"We talked about the school climate, and we also discussed the role social media can play in bullying and making students feel isolated," Assemblywoman Jenne noted.

She then met with a larger group of students ranging from sophomores to seniors that had been engaged in the school safety issue.

"It was a great dialogue. We talked about everything from arming teachers to metal detectors. We talked about legislation including a bill recently passed in the state Assembly that would allow family members to initiate court proceedings that could lead to family members they considered to be a threat to themselves or others to have their weapons seized for a period of time," according to the assemblywoman.

"We also talked about the stress facing today's students, trends in society that have helped fuel school violence and the role students can play in improving the climate in their school communities," she added.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she benefitted from having the opportunity to hear the concerns expressed by students about school safety.

"It was an opportunity to listen to the students, for me to elicit responses to some of my concerns and to have a give and take about some challenging issues with the students. I also had an opportunity to encourage the students to take care of each other and to hold their classmates acting inappropriately responsible in a supportive, positive way," she said.

Watertown City School District Superintendent Patti LaBarr said she appreciated the assemblywoman's willingness to meet with the students.

"Watertown City School Districts students from Watertown High School and Wiley Intermediate were excited to hae Assemblywoman Jenne visit our schools. It is awesome that she took time out of her schedule to meet with our students and address their concerns face-to-face. We are beyond grateful for everything that she does for our district," she said.