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Rivertowns Schools, Parents React To Newtown Shooting

Rivertowns school officials are offering advice on how to best talk to children about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Rivertowns school officials are offering advice on how to best talk to children about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – Rivertowns school districts issued statements over the weekend in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., with help for parents in dealing with children's fears or concerns about school safety.

Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley schools issued outlines such as the National Association of School Psychologists' "Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers," which offers advice on dealing with media exposure, conversations about the shooting and safety procedures.

Dobbs Ferry Schools Superintendent Lisa Brady said in a message to district families that the district crisis team would meet Monday to discuss the issue.

"Counselors spoke with a few students and parents from the elementary school who needed reassurance, but teachers are not formally addressing the tragedy with students at Springhurst," Brady said in an email reply to The Daily Voice. "At the middle school and high school, teachers were given prepared information to help them answer any questions that might arise."

Hastings' Farragut Middle School teacher Melissa Otivich said her students had questions about safety.

"It was definitely a little tough (Monday)," Otivich said. "The middle school students knew all about it. They asked me where we'd go and what I'd do if someone came in. I told them I'd put them in the closet and I'd guard them with my life. Then they asked if I was afraid to die and I almost lost it."

Lisa O'Reilly, a Hastings parent and recreation supervisor with the Hastings Recreation Department, assured her young children before sending them to school.

"My girls just asked why," O'Reilly said. "I told them he was a sick man, and I just talked to them about how there are a lot more good people in the world. I haven't heard children talk about it (at the Recreation Center), but they may at some point."

Dobbs Ferry parent Vinny Vicchio has very young children, including a 5-year-old at Springhurst Elementary School. He said he has kept them from any news about the shooting.

"Keep the kids away from it," Vicchio said. "We have not told or let my daughter watch the news. This act was disgusting, and it scares ... me every time I leave my kids."

Brady assured parents that counselors would be available to middle and high school students who needed to talk.

"Students who seem upset are being encouraged to speak with their guidance counselors today (Monday)," Brady said. "We are not focusing on the incident, but are sensitive to students and staff who might need extra support upon returning to school."

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