Following last month’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, a renewed sense of caution is present in the district. On February 27, Dr. Ralston sent a message to parents restating Avonworth’s commitment to safety. Within the message, he also addressed the district’s position on the March 14th walkout.

Ralston stated “it is important that we recognize that students have a constitutionally protected right to free speech,” adding that, “I can think of no better example of that than this event. I also recognize that other students may not share these same views, and, similarly, we also respect these students to have a voice.”

Beyond offering support by allowing students to use a special excused tardy slip, Ralston shared his personal perspective on school safety

“We are certainly living in challenging times,” Ralston wrote.

“When I began my career as a teacher in 1990, never could I have imagined that we would be dealing with such difficult circumstances regarding the safety of our students and staff. The fact that we are now training our teachers and administrators to be first responders would have been beyond my comprehension.”

Dr. Ralston, of course, began his career long before Columbine and Virginia Tech, and parents, administrators, teachers, and students alike are trying to figure out an ever-growing epidemic of school violence. Mrs. Dwulit gave a presentation on choices in a life-threatening situation intended to make students feel “as confident and empowered as [they] can be.” The Run, Hide, Fight procedure was reviewed as well as other important safety information.

The district has a safety and security committee which is comprised of all district and community staff and members and first responders, and this was put into place after the Sandy Hook shooting. Its purpose, Dr. Ralston states, is “to improve safety and security in our district,” and February’s meeting was focused on “the topic of school safety related to the tragedy in Florida.”

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