A focus on SAFETY

School administrators attend Emergency Training Summit

Jack Walker from the WSD Maintenance Department repaints the fire lane area at the Washougal High School parking lot. Keeping this lane available in case of an emergency is one way to increase safety.

Back to school events

Camas School District

All elementary schools

Back to school nights are Thursday, Aug. 28, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Skyridge Middle School

Sixth grade/new student orientation is Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Seventh and eighth grade drop-in to pickup schedules and pay fees is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Liberty Middle School

Sixth grade/new student orientation is Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

Seventh and eighth grade drop-in to pickup schedules and pay fees is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hayes Freedom High School

Drop-in for all grades is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Camas High School

Freshman Success Academy orientation is Monday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Ninth-grade orientation is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A barbecue will be held from noon to 1 p.m.

Orientation drop-in events will be held Tuesday, Aug. 26, for 12-graders (9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.); 11th-graders (10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and 10th-graders (12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.).

Math, Science and Technology Magnet program orientation is Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 3 to 5:30 p.m., followed by a barbecue.

For more information, visit www.camas.wednet....

Washougal School District

Cape Horn-Skye Elementary

Back to school night is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Kindergarten back to school night is Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 6 to 7 p.m.

Gause Elementary School

Back to school night is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 5 to 6 p.m.

Kindergarten visitation is Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Grade level parent curriculum nights, all from 6 to 7 p.m., are: Sept. 9 (fifth grade); Sept. 11 (fourth grade); Sept. 16 (first grade); Sept. 18 (third grade); and Sept. 23 (second grade).

Hathaway Elementary School

Back to school night ice cream social is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 4 to 5 p.m.

Kindergarten orientation Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

Curriculum night is Tuesday, Sept. 16, at time to be announced later.

Canyon Creek Middle School

Back to night is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Excelsior High School

Back to school events will be Thursday, Aug. 28, at 11 a.m.

Jemtegaard Middle School

Back to school night is Thursday, Aug. 28, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Washougal High School

Back to school night is Thursday, Sept. 11, from 5:30 to 7:50 p.m.

For more information, visit www.washougal.k12...

Safety. It’s a topic of discussion for school leaders everywhere. With violent acts and threats of violence continuing to make the headlines, administrators are looking for ways to help ensure parents, staff and students feel secure.

In Clark County, Education Service District 112 provides an emergency training summit intended to instruct principals, administrators, counselors and school psychologists on how to spot potential problems and de-escalate violent situations.

School leaders from around the county, including 31 from Camas and Washougal, packed the auditorium at Heritage High School last week for the annual event, which first began 13 years ago as an offshoot of the Clark County Safe Schools Task Force. The day-long event begins with a keynote speech and several small group break-out sessions for attendees to delve deeper into school safety related topics.

“This program is pretty unique not only in our area but for the state,” said Scott La Bar, ESD senior loss control specialist. “Speakers are selected by members of the Clark County Safe Schools Task Force. Most of them are community partners and work with schools in one capacity or another.”

The summit began with a keynote speech by National Crime Prevention Specialist Jim Sawyer on how to de-escalate potentially violent situations while staying aware of personal safety. Sawyer is the security director at Seattle Children’s Hospital and has been a personal safety presenter for more than 30 years.

“It’s a mistake to minimize,” he said. “Always listen to your intuition. If something gives you the shudders, pay attention. Run background checks on people who concern you. It can be very illuminating.”

He said the number one predictor of future violence is past violence, which is why the background checks can be crucial.

“Past history is the surest indicator someone will be a problem,” he said. “Go back to best practice. Contact your security team.”

Although drugs are a huge problem, alcohol continues to be the most pervasive because it is viewed as socially acceptable.

“Four in 10 violent incidents involved alcohol,” Sawyer said. “Additionally, 37 percent of all inmates are incarcerated because of drinking.”

He also mentioned that one should never assume someone is unarmed.

“There are 320 million (registered) guns in the U.S.,” he said. “One in 12 people has a gun permit. Most people with gun permits are good people. What I am trying to emphasize is that we live in an armed camp. It is reality. Assume someone has access.”

He also discouraged school districts from having a “zero tolerance policy.”

“It implies that you are reactive. Go for ‘zero incidents.’ That is the hallmark of prevention.”

He encouraged school leaders to practice, “rational detachment,” and not to take rude remarks or offending behavior personally.

“Teach your staff the 24-hour rule,” he said. “Don’t overreact. It is not worth it. People get into fights over stupid things. It’s called ‘rooster syndrome.’ If someone starts to get physical with you, use their name and ask them to stop. Never agree to meet an angry person in an isolated place. If you have an angry client, bring along about five people.”

Sawyer also discussed topics such as how to stay safe when approached by an angry person, signs of domestic violence, special security risks that schools face, pressures and triggers that can create stress, signs of anger and what constitutes a threat.

After the keynote speech ended, there were several breakout sessions with topics ranging from bullying to child sex trafficking to communicating in a crisis.

Camas Superintendent Mike Nerland and Deputy Superintendant Jeff Snell both attended the summit. Nerland has attended 12 summits and it is Snell’s 10th.

“I think anytime we can talk about proactive approaches to working with people around violence prevention, it’s valuable,” Nerland said. “The more opportunities we have to come together and think about different safety scenarios and approaches, the better.”

Added Snell, “Jim Sawyer provided some great advice and resources about the way we approach situations. That learning provides us with an opportunity to go a little deeper in the Camas School District by having more conversations with our leadership teams.”

The two attended the Active Threat Response Procedures, Communicating in a Crisis and Drug Trends in Our Community (Clark County) sessions.

“The Safety Summit is critical for our administrators,” Nerland said. “Keeping schools safe is always our number one priority. There’s such a broad range of challenges to that priority that collaborating with other districts and engaging with experts from the safety field is critical.”

Added Snell, “We take the experiences from the Safety Summit along with safety scenarios throughout the year and work through them with administration. Building principals then share that information with their safety teams, and staff and conduct safety drills throughout the year. It’s an ongoing learning process that we take very seriously.”

Both administrators said a positive relationship with local law enforcement is crucial.

“We are fortunate in Camas to have great partnerships with our local safety agencies,” Nerland said. “A great example of this is the collaboration with the Camas Police Department. We proactively meet with them to discuss possible safety concerns and to debrief any situations that come up that involve our joint attention.”

Washougal administrators in attendance included Gause Elementary Principal Rex Larson, Superintendent Dawn Tarzian, Cape-Horn Skye Elementary Principal Mary Lou Woody and Canyon Creek Principal Sandi Christensen.

It is Tarzian’s fourth year attending the summit. She described Sawyer’s presentation as being “very helpful and timely.”

“He covered the social and personal issues/pressures that can create stress and tension for parents and students,” she said. “Job loss, limited resources, rising health care issues and costs, etc., are often the root causes of the escalated emotions and behaviors we can sometimes see at school. Jim shared many strategies that will help educators de-escalate situations that could potentially become dangerous.”

She attended Communicating in a Crisis and Bullying/Cyber Bullying breakout sessions.

“I learned that the Washougal School District is doing a good job of keeping our community informed of what is going on in the district, including our successes and the challenges,” she said. “I was also reminded that the district has access to great support from ESD 112, Vancouver, Evergreen, and our other neighboring districts when extensive communications must be generated to support our students, staff, parents and community members.”

Added Tarzian, “The bullying session was helpful in that it provided an overview of bullying, harassment, cyber bullying, and hazing. As a district we have done substantial work in the area of harassment, intimidation and bullying. I was interested to learn any new information, as well as to access new resources for staff and for parents.”

Larson has been to the training summit for several years and feels it is a very important event for Clark County administrators. He had the opportunity to attend four breakout sessions, one of which explored best practices of violence prevention.

“This was good for three reasons; first it was done by the morning’s presenter, Jim Sawyer, second the handout was specific with a description of 17 scenarios that actually happen at schools today, and three, the format allowed small groups of administrators to discuss each scenario, share their ideas and/or experiences and then walk away with useful and applicable knowledge,” he said.

As principal of Cape Horn-Skye, Woody is in a unique situation, as the school is located in a rural area off of Washougal River Road. One of the breakout sessions she attended that touched on the topic was Active Threat Response Procedures.

“The one thing that the presenters shared was that staff need to know when a situation like this occurs, they will need to make decisions without any advice from colleagues or administration,” she said. “Being 10 miles up the river, this is of upmost importance for my staff.”

She adds that being in an isolated area means staff and administrators must keep a close eye on those who enter the campus.

“We know that, given our location, we have challenges and because of this, we tend to talk about it more and keep a very close eye on people that enter our campus,” Woody said.