STEM’s Safety Net of Support

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Today STEM had a lockdown drill. This drill is required once a semester for all Colorado public schools to prepare students and staff. For most of STEM’s staff and students, the drill evokes vivid memories and feelings. For new staff, the heightened emotions can create unexpected responses. And like all large populations, some approach the drill as routine and become the stabilizers for others.

Thank you to the multitude of Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies who assisted in today’s drill. Thank you also to the DCSD Security Department and their new Director of School Security and Safety, Jonny Grusing. Their support and guidance were so meaningful for our entire staff.

One STEM member from leadership partnered with each one to unlock and release each room. With over 100 doors at STEM, we were able to complete the drill 17 minutes after the start. This is a new record.

Thank you to the STEM Center for Strength. Approximately 20 students, mainly seniors, spent the drill there and had calming activities available. Students from other grades accessed their resources throughout the day. A few staff members also used this sanctuary during the day.

Thank you to the multitude of therapy dogs provided by Go Team Therapy Dogs and other animals who provided a calming presence for those in need. A huge thank you to the handlers for your dedication in providing emotional support to those in need.

As mental health providers learn more about how to best serve trauma survivors, procedures change. The unique needs of K-12 add complexity to the delivery of services. Our youngest survivors are now in the third grade. Two classes have graduated. Revisiting the experiences with new perspectives might help some who were so young. This process is best guided by family and professional therapists.

Frank DeAngelis has been a trusted advisor to me since day one. He lost 90% of his staff in the three years after Columbine. I initially thought they slowly left due to trauma but now realize many most likely left as their classes graduated. In three years, all would have graduated. Some at STEM feel compelled to remain to be with their students who remain. I am deeply grateful that these dedicated staff members put the needs of students above their own. My biggest wish is that we can be there for each other on this healing journey.

A big thank you to STEM’s SRO, Gabe Uribe, who scheduled and coordinated across agencies for the event. Thank you to Ryan Alsup and Robert Hoornestra for their steadfast leadership throughout the drill. The entire Leadership Team as well as the counselors and other mental health providers were available throughout the school to provide support where needed. Even our newly hired Security Specialist was able to take part.

If you find that you or your student need more support during the coming days, please access the mental health page on the STEM website. The safety net of services provided to STEM allows all of us to link together as a healing community.


P.J. Eucker PhD
Executive Director

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