The following letter was presented at the Town Hall on School Safety at Maplewood Middle School on June 8. It was read aloud by Columbia High School teacher Sharon Miller. It is posted here with Miller’s permission.
An Open Letter to the Columbia High School Community:
Events at the high school in the last few days have everyone concerned. No one is happy about the fights between students, or the code yellow, shelter-in-place that was necessitated by a student who was found to have an air-soft gun and a kitchen-style knife in his possession.
That said, we, as teachers and staff at Columbia High School who live in these two towns, must respond to the misinformation, name-calling, and in some cases smear campaigns that have been promulgated primarily online.
Despite what some people would have you believe, Columbia High School is an excellent school; one we can all be proud of. Many of us on staff have, or have sent, our children here. The high school has a challenging mission – to educate a student body from diverse backgrounds, with diverse resources and diverse skill sets, such that all students are prepared for life beyond high school, wherever that may take them. With close to two thousand students, it takes an incredible amount of talent, work, and dedication to achieve this goal. We are lucky to have a staff of teachers, administrators, and support personnel who value your children and their education immensely, who serve as role models and mentors, who look out for their health and well-being, and who have a depth and breadth of experience that informs the exemplary jobs they do.
In addition, we grow tired of seeing students at Columbia High School maligned in print. Regardless of the color of their skin or the socioeconomic background of their families, Columbia High School students are, for the most part, empathic, respectful, and mature young adults. Some still have some growing up to do, some need to be disciplined, but an entire student body should not be mischaracterized and branded for the misdeeds of a few.
Finally, contrary to what some have suggested, Columbia High School has a strong and proactive administrative staff, starting with our principal Elizabeth Aaron. With Ms. Aaron students and staff know that they have a leader who is a consummate professional. Students and staff have unquestioning trust in her judgment and ability. We are lucky to have her.
Please do not base your judgments of Columbia High School on the recent troubling events. Do not let them overshadow all that is good about Columbia High School – and there is much. Do not abandon our school – support us in your actions and words. Any of us would be happy to tell you more – please ask.
Sharon Miller Laura Prado Elizabeth Fanneron
Jerry Kaiser Robin Straus Jon Fisher
Allan Tumolillo Amy Biasucci Wahkeelah Ellis
Ellen Weisbord Marilu Gregory Stacey Lawrence
Amy Singer Nicole Martelli