By Katarina Vella Lingl
Mason Times staff writer
MASON—The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012 shocked parents and school administrators in the Mason area.
Resident Simone Jardim said her 3-year-old daughter Alexas attends preschool and childcare in Mason. She said she was “glued to the television” after hearing about the shooting.
“I actually cried and felt heartbroken because those innocent kids lost their lives in such a tragic and unfortunate event,” Jardim said.
“Alexas is my world and I am not sure what I would do without her,” she said. “Our children are not supposed to die before us.”
Jardim said parents should keep their children informed, but not scare them. She said there is always evil in the world, but we cannot allow that to take our children’s innocence away.
Jardim said if Alexas asks about the incident in the future, she would talk to her about it.
She said security should be stronger, making it harder for a complete stranger to enter the grounds of any school.
“Most of the time it seems like problems are with high school students bringing weapons to school. However, for elementary and middle school, problems would include the supervision of who comes in and the people that work there having contact with the children,” Jardim said.
She said she feels Alexas is safe while she is in preschool because it is in a small, busy area.
“Unfortunately, anything can happen to anyone at any time,” she said.
Secretary of the Mason public school board, Laura Fenger, said she took the incident at Sandy Hook very personally.
“As a teacher, I could relate to the situation and couldn’t help putting myself into it,” she said.
Fenger said she was at a professional development session when the shooting occurred, and she and staff heard the news through twitter.
“To my knowledge, teachers were not required to talk to the students about it,” she said. “Keeping the talk at the students’ emotional level is important to keep them from becoming more scared by it.”
Fenger said all visitors at Mason public schools are asked to sign in at the office and receive a visitor’s badge.
“We can only do so much with security. Instead, we need to focus as a society on mental health and make sure people are getting the help they need,” Fenger said.
Superintendent Mark Dillingham said he was in his office working on a project when he heard about the shooting.
“I was saddened yet very surprised it was an elementary building,” Dillingham said.
He said the board has met numerous times with the district security consultant, local, county and state first responders and are making upgrades to security.
“This incident reminded me of my responsibility for the safety of all of our students,” Dillingham said.