Branford High School Responds to the Newtown Tragedy

Kelly Loftis and Tatiana Alvaradosigning the banner found in the commons on Tuesday morning. Photo by: Sam Bailey-Loomis.
Kelly Loftis and Tatiana Alvarado signing the banner found in the commons on Tuesday morning. Photo by: Sam Bailey-Loomis.

By: Sam Bailey-Loomis 

After the deaths of twenty eight innocent lives last Friday morning at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, parents and families of the deceased as well as people of all ages all over Connecticut are responding in various ways.

Students at Branford High School have responded to this tragedy, and have taken steps to be supportive and hopeful for all those involved and affected.  The first step taken by the Branford High School community was to collectively get everyone in Branford High School to wear green in memory of those in the Sandy Hook tragedy.  An announcement was made Monday morning by principal Lee Panagoulias after a deep, serene, moment of silence informing students & faculty to wear green and white to honor those who were victims of the mass murder.

In the student commons, the colors green and white are evident almost everywhere. There is also a banner on one of the posts set to the side of the commons area. The banner – inscribed with the words “Branford High School Sends Love” – is open to all students who wish to write a line of love, hope, an inspirational or uplifting quote, or even their own sentiment. Students from all grades signed the banner with thought, respect, and remorse. The banner, organized and established by the Student Council, was hung Tuesday morning before first period and was nearly filled by third period.

It is definitely clear that the students at Branford High School are moved by the killings at Sandy Hook and wish nothing but the best in the future for those affected. The students in Mrs. Morosan’s advisory have taken steps to give back to Sandy Hook by raising $116, which will be donated to the victims’ families.  In addition, the basketball team will be accepting donations of money and unwrapped toys which will we split between Newtown and the Branford Counseling Center. The team will also look for donations of stuffed animal bears to donate to Newtown through Operation Snuggle in alliance with the Branford Patch.

With all that has been happening to help families like those of Sandy Hook, Branford High School’s music department donated all of the proceeds from its winter concert Wednesday night to the Branford Counseling Center. A substantial amount of money was raised from a full auditorium of guests which will contribute to a selected family in need.

“It is important that we recognize that we are all in this together not just because we’re from Connecticut, but because we’re American & most importantly, human beings,” explains Adam Jarvie, a junior.

Although some have responded nobly to this heartbreaking event, some people, like Christine Rasile, a senior, have taken it to heart. “This is heartbreaking; to see family problems in so many peoples’ lives.” After first seeing what had happened in Sandy Hook, Rasile thought, “Is this real life? I immediately started crying.”

Destiny Glazier, a senior, emphasizes saying “we [Branford High School] are taking it to heart. I felt bad, I started crying in my room as soon as I heard,” she continued on to say, “I think we should get more security in school, especially for the younger kids, and to be safer with decisions made.”

In fact, steps are being taken to ensure the security of our kids. Our school’s Emergency Response Team, which consists of administration, support staff, security, police liaison, and teachers, will be meeting in January to reform and ensure efficient, reliable security procedures. Lee Panagoulias, the principal here at Branford High School, provided the latest insight on security in the school.  There was recently an announcement made to all students saying that in January of this upcoming year, students will no longer be able to have food delivered.  Panagoulias went on to explain, “Food delivery was causing a disruption in the front lobby area that was pulling our security staff away from their intended and required responsibilities.”

Aside from the food deliveries, many have noticed there aren’t any door wedges, and may have speculated that this is because of the events that occurred last week, however, the wedges were simply a fire code violation. “Door wedges are a violation of the fire code and were noted in our annual Fall fire inspection. This was not in response to the tragic events that occurred last week,” said Panagoulias.

The staff at Branford High School continues to take steps to keep the student body safe and secure. Panagoulias emphasized that “Providing a safe learning environment is always a priority.”