South Orange MS Principal Addresses ‘Trying Week’ in School District

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The following is an excerpt from an email to the SOMS community from Principal Joseph Uglialoro; it was part of his regular, weekly message to parents:

Good morning SOMS Community,

This has been a very trying week for our school district. Recent events at Columbia High School and Maplewood Middle School have raised concerns more than ever before about the safety of our children in our schools. I want to tell you that throughout this anxious time we at SOMS have been incredibly proud of our students’ conduct and positive attitude. In daily classroom lessons, on field trips, with guest speakers and presenters, and during after-school events, our students have demonstrated a commitment to Protecting their P.R.I.D.E. This is a testament not only to our students, but also to our teachers’ continued focus on teaching and learning, and their commitment to being visible throughout the school, and engaging as many of our students as possible in positive relationships.

I want to assure you that at SOMS our priority is to maintain this positive, safe, and productive environment. We are taking a number of steps as a school towards this end. These include:

  • I will address students on Monday about our appreciation for their conduct thus far. I will emphasize the importance of the message “if you see or hear something, say something” to maintaining a safe environment in our school.
  • SOMS guidance counselors and social workers will be available to students who might be feeling anxiety about what is happening at CHS and MMS.
  • We will be running a “Code Red” security drill with the SOPD early this week to practice our emergency procedures. Students and staff will be given notice of a forthcoming drill in order to minimize anxiety.
  • SOMS staff will be visible in the hallways during the change of class periods, and SOMS administration will be outside the school building at main entry points during arrival and dismissal.
  • SOMS teachers will maintain a focus on teaching and learning through the end of the year.
    The SOMSD is hosting a Town Hall on School Safety Monday, June 8th in the Maplewood Middle School Auditorium from 7-9 pm. I will be there to participate in the conversation.

Finally, we encourage you to engage your children in dialogue about how they can contribute to a safe and positive school environment. I am confident that taking these steps together we can continue to provide our children with a safe and inspiring middle school experience.

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