We have several updates on our efforts to work together with students and community partners as we continue to address the safety concerns that have disrupted Albany High School this week.
In addition to Albany High’s immediate steps following the student fights and social media threats early in the week, Principal Jodi Commerford and her team prioritized conversations with students Thursday and Friday.
City School District of Albany Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter noted that, at the district and school level, we also continue to work in partnership with the Albany Police Department, law enforcement agencies and a broad network of community partners to investigate and resolve the issues that led to this week’s conflicts.
Talking with students
On Friday, Principal Commerford held assemblies with all students throughout the day at Albany High. She talked with them about expectations, and how everyone in the school community can work together to address the uneasiness we all are experiencing.
She and her team also listened as students expressed their feelings about how the events of this week have affected them.
“Every session provided insight into the anxiety that everyone in our school community is feeling, and brought out the shared sentiment that this is not who we are at Albany High School, and not how we want to be perceived as a school community,” Commerford said. “Our Falcon Pride was palpable, even through tears and tension.”
On Thursday, Principal Commerford also held conversations with student government leaders. They shared similar emotions and aspirations in those conversations as well.
Alongside the Albany High safety concerns we are continuing to investigate, this week’s concerns exist against a troubling backdrop of violence in the world. Thursday afternoon’s arrest of a man accused of firing a shotgun near an Albany synagogue provided yet another stark reminder of that.
These events cause anxiety. At Albany High and in all of our schools, our social workers, school psychologists, behavior specialists and school counselors are available anytime during the day for any student who would like to talk about their fears.
‘It takes a village’
One of the common themes in all of our meetings and conversations this week was the familiar African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” It takes everyone in a community working together to nurture and support each and every young person.
We have heard from our students and community partners a desire to set aside those things that separate us so that we can come together around all of those things that unite us.
On Thursday morning, Principal Commerford brought together a group of faith-based leaders at Albany High to talk with school and district staff about how best to engage students, families and the broader community in these critical conversations.
Our new Community Coalition will continue to meet at least monthly, and will grow to include students, parents and guardians, and additional leaders from our community.
An important theme of Thursday morning’s initial Community Coalition meeting at Albany High was the need for our families to partner with us in these efforts. Parents and guardians, please continue to talk with your children at home about the importance of following our expectations at school. We ask that you emphasize how important it is for every student to be in class on time every period.
Albany High will continue to suspend students who refuse multiple requests to get to class, in alignment with our Code of Conduct. We want every student in school every day, and we cannot achieve that without your help.
See something, say something
We also continue to remind our students across the district that they are safe and supported in reporting any information that makes them feel scared or uncomfortable. This includes any information, pictures or video they see in social media.
Remind your children that if they see something, they should tell a trusted adult immediately. It is critically important to all that our faculty, staff and administrators do to provide a safe learning environment.