In light of recent events dealing with issues of school safety in the Puyallup School District, questions may arise as to what plans are in place to protect PHS from a similar fate.
Principal Dave Sunich lists off some of the measures that are being taken to protect students and staff alike.
“Things like making staff administration visible and making sure that kids know that when they hear something they should report it and if there is a threat or even a possibility of a threat we take that seriously and do a full investigation. We just make sure that we are monitoring the school activity and we have a school safety team that reviews plans and ensures that we are up to date about what plans we have in place,” Sunich said.
While school shooting threats are being exposed by the media it can still be a terrifying thought. Sunich gives reasons that some students may make these horrific threats.
“I think things like this happens for a few reasons, whether it be for attention, wanting to get school canceled, kids liking to see havoc unfold, a cry for help or kids that are depressed and feel hopeless and feel the need to do unspeakable things,” Sunich said.
Feeling unknown in a school of this size is something some students find inevitable. To combat this Sunich goes in depth on what PHS is doing to prevent students from disengaging.
“I think that there are a lot of things we as a school are doing to help students. Number one is trying to make sure every kid is known by an adult outside of their six teachers. That is one of the reasons we have Advisory, so that there is another caring adult,” Sunich said. “That is why we have the administrators and counselors broken up by alphabet so that each person is able to get in touch with each student and get to know them on a more personal level. It lowers the adult-to-student ratio to create a more personalized experience.”
To rope in students and inspire a sense of unity, PHS has made it a mission to get kids involved. From clubs, activities and everything in between, students have many options for getting involved.
“We have more clubs and activities than any school around as far as opportunity and ways to feel connected to the school go. We also have our safe and welcoming schools commitment our Viking way which is a way to have clear expectations for how students should act and make them feel safe and included. If there is a problem then we make sure that we take care of it and the individual and work to prevent anything from happening. We really try to make sure that kids feel welcome and comfortable talking to adults,” Sunich said.
A new program that is being implemented this year is the Safe Spaces. Students may have taken notice to the purple diamonds sitting in the windows of every classroom. They serve as a sign to students that they are welcome, they are safe and they are being listened to.
“Most of the time if we have a kid that is getting bullied, some kids we may never know but with our beginning of the year assemblies we try to make it clear that it will not be tolerated. We have a help box that kids can put in a note either anonymously or with their name on it. We want kids to know that they can go to any adult for help. That is why we have the safe spaces on the doors,” Sunich said.
Sunich explains that while the faculty is working hard to make students feel welcome, the responsibility falls to students as well to help engage their peers.
“It is one of those things we are always trying to get better at. It needs to come from teachers as much from students. It is everybody’s responsibility to make our school more welcoming and safe and making kids feel included and supported,” Sunich said.