Last week, students across the country participated in America’s Safe Schools Week, and National Heritage Academies (NHA) scholars joined in on the festivities for the seventh year. This week-long celebration aims to ensure that schools are safe, secure, and productive by encouraging education and law enforcement policymakers, as well as students, parents, and community members, to advocate school safety practices.
“Safe Schools Week is a great time to remind our NHA’s students, and parents of the importance of building safety into every day,” said Brian Gard, director of safety and health at NHA. “It’s impressive to see what our schools are doing to celebrate this week by creating memorable and fun safety-based activities and events.”
NHA schools participated in a variety of ways, from students creating safety-awareness posters to local law enforcement giving interactive demonstrations, students experienced safety first-hand throughout the week. Below outlines a snapshot of some activities that took place during Safe Schools Week.
Willow Charter Academy invited the Lafayette SWAT Team to the school for a presentation, watched a firehouse presentation, cooled off by enjoying shaved ice from Kona Ice, and learned about the local K9 police dog unit.
“Our scholars discussed what the Lafayette Parish SWAT Team does and how they keep our community safe,” said Stephanie Jones, dean at Willow Charter Academy. “They demonstrated techniques that they use when they are placed in dangerous situations. The students were very engaged. Scholars also were able to experience the firehouse. It taught them what to do in case of a fire. They were expected to stop, drop, and roll!”
Vista Charter Academy celebrated the week by holding a door decorating contest. In addition, students were encouraged to write safety-related poems and facts, which were then shared with the school during daily announcements. One fifth-grade class created the following Safety Pledge:
As a Vista Husky...
I pledge to keep myself and my school safe at all times.
I pledge to keep all doors locked and not propped.
I pledge to walk, not run, through the school each and every day.
I pledge to make safe choices before, during, and after school.
I pledge to say something if I see something unsafe at school.
I pledge to practice safety drills to ensure I'm ready for any event.
I pledge to stay safe when I am entering and exiting the school building.
I pledge to make Vista a safe place to be all day, every day.
I am a Vista Husky!
Students at Taylor Exemplar Academy honored the week by participating in a daily activity. These included a playground safety assembly and a severe weather hair day which encouraged students to have fun while understanding that weather can be dangerous.
Taylor students also honored Unity Day by wearing orange shirts, which demonstrates hope and support against bullying. The same day, they also attended OK2SAY assemblies to discuss the importance of kind words and anti-bullying.
“We are excited to work alongside our community and partner with them to raise awareness for safety,” said Brittany Colbeck, special education dean at Taylor Exemplar Academy. “Our first goal as a school community is to ensure the safety of our families. Our hope is that through this fun and educational week we will give more tools to our families and community members.”
Apex Academy celebrated by conducting a practice evacuation drill. Students also were encouraged to wear red to demonstrate a “drug-free and safe me” stance for Red Ribbon Week. In addition, students throughout the school created vibrant and informational safety posters that are proudly on display.
“I could not ask for a more caring and safe staff,” said Jen Littlefield, principal at Apex Academy. “I love team Apex!”
Walton Charter Academy students created a safety video to honor School Safety Week, the message was about how to stop bullying. The school also discussed school safety during their weekly assembly and held a poster decorating contest, which encouraged students to create a poster that shows how to be safe at school.
Andrew J. Brown Academy (AJB) had a different activity every day, one of which brought in AJB’s bus liaison, Theresa Jones. Jones and Miller Transportation led an assembly for all bus riders and honored students from each bus who have great bus conduct.
South Arbor Charter Academy connected Safe Schools Week with their Spirit Week. The week launched with parking lot safety, including adding extra cones and flags in the lot and having the crossing guards wear glowing safety vests for increased visibility.
The Milan Fire Department visited the school to share safety tips with our kindergarten and Young 5’s students who were able to spend time on the fire truck and learn about how it works. Students showed their creativity by creating safety posters throughout the week.
“At the end of the week, all South Arbor staff received a special treat for participating,” said Sandy Avery-Buczek, dean at South Arbor Charter Academy. “We know that everyone plays an important part in making our school safe!”
Eagle Crest Charter Academy honored the week during their normal "Fun Friday" theme day, which takes place every Friday in the middle school. "Safety Day" recognized Safe Schools Week by encouraging students and teachers to dress up in safety gear for different school settings such as science lab safety, donning lab coats, and recreational settings wearing bike helmets during physical activities.
Triumph Academy participated in various activities to highlight the ways school leaders and staff keep students safe at school, while also highlighting people in the community who help keep the school safe. A representative from the Frenchtown Fire Dept held an assembly for lower elementary. Students from different grades colored pictures and posters of emergency personnel, which were displayed in the gym.
Law enforcement officials visited Detroit Enterprise Academy to discuss a variety of safety topics. Police officers from the 5th Precinct joined kindergarten through second-grade students to speak about Halloween safety. The Wayne County Sheriff Department spoke with middle school students about peer pressure, and they also brought in canine officers, Thor and Vanity, to speak about their role in the police department.
Throughout the week, students at Buffalo United Charter School honored local heroes by making thank you cards for the individuals who keep the school safe every day, including school resource officers, crossing guards, local firemen and police officers, and the school nurse.
“We presented them with their cards and a small token of our appreciation for all that they do for us,” said April Gapinski, dean of special education and intervention at Buffalo United. “They were beyond excited to be recognized by our students, and they all told us how we made their day very special.”
Paramount Charter Academy students participated in a daily activity to celebrate Safe Schools Week. Students wore yellow to honor Bus Safety Day, dressed like firefighters for First Safety Day, and sported “windblown” hair for Tornado Safety Day. Students also participated in a school emergency lockdown drill, created safety posters, and learned about internet safety.
Students at Plymouth Scholars Charter Academy spent the week talking about being safe at school during Moral Focus time and made the connection between being respectful and being safe. In addition to Safe Schools week, it’s also National Bullying Prevention Month, which school staff honored by talking to students about how not being a bully and voicing concerns about bullying keeps them safe at school.
Oakside Scholars Charter Academy held an assembly featuring a Detroit-based detective who discussed school safety. Staff members participated by displaying a safety vest during Vest Out Day.
“Our Student Safety Squad helped out at the Safe School Week assemblies,” said Kristy Redman, physical education teacher at Oakside Scholars Charter Academy. “They usually help the younger scholars to their cars during driveline and assist them to class in the morning by carrying their trays to class for them.”
Oakside also held two reunification drills, which allows students and staff the opportunity to practice where they meet during an emergency. The school also held a staff walk through and all-school reunification, which enlisted the help of the local police and fire departments.
Among other celebrations, Stambaugh Charter Academy students had the opportunity to explore a fire truck when the local fire department visited for an interactive assembly.
“We had a visit from our fire department today! They talked about fire safety in home and school with K-2 and let them check out a fire engine,” said Michelle Musch, registrar at Stambaugh Charter Academy.
Overall, Safe Schools Week was a great success. Great job to everyone who participated!