BEND, OR -- Students, parents and educators across the country are reacting to another school tragedy, following Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead. Bend Senior High Principal Chris Reese echoes what many are feeling, "My heart just aches for that community and that school. And - Wow - It’s just tough. No words can describe it."
Reese says he talked with students Thursday to reassure them and address concerns. He also met with his staff to reaffirm safety protocols and discuss the importance of developing trust with the kids. He tells KBND News, "We also encourage our staff to have those conversations about school safety with their students and just continue to foster those positive relationships; and that is so huge." Principal Reese believes if kids trust school staff, they will be more comfortable in reporting suspicious behavior, "So, if stuff comes up or parents or students hear about things – whether it be social media or text messages, or just hear things that concern them, they feel that they can report those issues to staff members and we can address them."
He says Bend High students were just trained Tuesday on the First Step App and Safe Oregon program - a tipline that takes concerns from students and follows up with local authorities. Students can report anonymously, if they want, by phone or online. Safe Oregon has received over 500 tips since it began in January 2017.
Bend High School practices lock-out and lock-down drills a couple times a year, along with the typical fire drill, and Reese says safety is a top priority, "Unfortunately, now we’ve got to talk seriously about school safety. When I first got into education, I got in to educate students and I wasn’t really thinking about that. Now, these tragedies are happening and it seems like they’re happening frequently and, you know, we’ve got to prepare for that. It’s something that nobody likes to talk about but we have to talk about it."