From the Principal's Pen

December 11, 2020

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Principal's Message

Dear Parents,

On Friday morning, we held our first lockdown drill for the year at Julian Curtiss. Representatives from the Greenwich Police Department and Greenwich Public Schools Safety & Security Department were present to help us evaluate the effectiveness of the drill.

The drill went very smoothly with no unanticipated challenges. Since it was the first drill this year students were notified in advance that it would take place today. They were not notified of the time it would take place. In alignment with COVID guidelines, we practiced by having the students stay at their desks and the teachers demonstrated where they would sit if they directed them differently. The members of the Police and Fire Departments checked in with each classroom to reassure students of their safety, and that they had followed directions well.

Students are informed that lockdown drills are held at school to help us practice being safe in case of an emergency. Should you want to discuss the purpose of a lockdown, or if your child asks questions, below are some helpful suggestions.

Of course, if you have any questions about school or district procedures regarding crisis and emergency drills, please feel free to contact us.


Trish McGuire, Principal

Brenda Brush, Assistant Principal

How to Talk to Your Kids about School Lockdown Drills without Scaring Them

As unfortunate as it might be, lockdown drills have become a normal occurrence at most public schools across the country, in some places as commonplace now as fire drills. And though they can be scary for young children, they’re necessary. They help to prepare and educate children about the proper and safe way to act in case of an emergency.

The first time our local elementary school did a lockdown drill when my son was in kindergarten, he came home a little shaken up. It’s not easy to explain to your child why lockdown drills are necessary or what exactly they’re protecting them against without inciting fear. But there are some strategies available for speaking to your children about the importance and purpose of lockdown drills. Here are just a few.

1. Stay Calm

Children often react first to an adult’s reaction, then to whatever situation is causing the reaction. For example, if your child falls and scrapes their knee. Their initial reaction might be to cry when they see the blood or because it hurts. But the severity of their reaction will have a lot to do with how you, as the parent, react. If you start panicking, your child will panic too because they’ll think there’s reason to: “If mommy is getting upset there must be something really wrong!”

This theory holds true for discussing lockdown drills. If you approach the subject with a calm and even tone, your child will not be initially alarmed. They’re more apt to calmly sit and listen to what you have to say. Acting in a paranoid or fearful way will only instill unnecessary fear in your child.

2. Be Open to Questions

You want your child to feel comfortable asking you questions, about anything in life, but especially about something they’re concerned or curious about. Try not to meet their questions with resistance or negativity. Be open to whatever is going on in their minds. The more knowledge and understanding of the situation they have, the more comfortable they may become with the practice.

3. Use Comparisons

It’s sometimes easier for children to understand a new concept when they have a familiar reference to compare it to. The most common and logical comparison to a lockdown drill is a fire drill. Most children are familiar with fire drills before they even enter public school. Many daycare and childcare centers are required to perform routine fire drills. You might even have a fire plan in place for your home.

Explain to your child that a lockdown drill is very similar to a fire drill. It’s something the schools use just in case of an emergency and for practice because practice makes perfect! You can even compare practicing drills to wearing a helmet or seat belt. You do these things to be safe, just in case there’s an accident or your child falls off their bike. These things may never happen, but if they do, you’re protected.

The more relaxed and less serious you remain while discussing lockdown drills, the more relaxed your child will be. Emphasize that lockdown drills aren’t just for the students but for teachers as well and that they’re designed to keep everyone safe.

4. Helping Them Understand the Threat

But as we know, lockdown drills are in place for a very serious reason. It’s perfectly fine to ease your young child’s mind by making “light” of the situation and explaining that it’s simply for practice. But your inquisitive child will likely ask what a lockdown drill is keeping them safe from.

They already view teachers and other adults as authority figures. Explain to your child that sometimes, adults and teachers see a potential threat or something unsafe that children don’t see. This threat may be nothing, but until the adults can determine that, a lockdown drill is a good way to keep them safe.

Your child’s next question might be, “Well, what kind of unsafe stuff?” My son is 7 and I try to be as honest with him as possible, without striking fear. He knows that people make poor choices at times—from his friends in class to adults. When discussing what threats lockdown drills are addressing, explain that it’s the school’s job to keep the children safe from any adults around that might be making poor choices. There’s really no need to explain further what those choices are.

I often tell my son, “Sometimes people just do things that we don’t understand. Things that we would never do.” If your child is a little bit older you can go as far as to say, “Sometimes people get angry and confused and end up hurting people.” You know your child best, so offer as much or as little explanation as you think is appropriate or necessary.

5. Encourage Your Child to Be a Helper

Most kids love nothing more than being a helper, especially to adults! Making children part of what’s going on is a great way to involve them in their own safety practice, such as lockdown drills.

The teachers at my son’s school wear whistles on their school lanyards. During a lockdown drill, the teacher is supposed to pop their head out the classroom door into the hallway and blow their whistle three times. This alerts anyone in the hallway or neighboring classrooms that a lockdown is in place, in case they aren’t already aware. The teacher then locks the classroom door and the children take their positions. It’s my son’s job to remind his teacher to blow the whistle. Other students have other “jobs” like reminding her to pull down the shades, or helping their friends find their special hiding spots.

By involving children in the lockdown process, you’re empowering them with a sense of responsibility and involvement. This can help to ease their worry. It also gives them something to focus on, distracting them from any fear they might be experiencing.

Try asking your child about the lockdown drill process. “So, what do you do first?” or “What happens next?” Become excited and involved in what’s happening. Your child will feel important and may view the drill as a necessary “job” they have, not as a scary experience.

Always be Available

It’s important to always be available for your child to ask questions, voice their concerns, and simply listen to what they have to say. The first few lockdown drills your child experiences might be scary for them, but over time, they should become more comfortable with the process. If you need further information or help explaining lockdown drills with your child, speaking to your school’s principal or the district superintendent can offer additional help and resources about your specific school district’s procedures.

The Importance of Being On Time for School

We are noticing an increase in the number of students arriving late to school.


Being on time:

  • Gets the student’s day off to a good start and puts them in a positive frame of mind. Children settle well and have a better sense of belonging when they begin the day with their classroom community.

  • Is respectful to the teacher and to the classmates.

  • Leads to an understanding that school is important and education is valuable.

  • Helps develop a sense of responsibility and is an indicator of good character.

  • Leads to a good attendance record and sets positive patterns for the future.

  • Leads to better achievement.


Being late:

  • Gets the student’s day off to a bad start.

  • May lead the student to feel disorganized all day! The student may have missed out on vital instructions, information and bits of news at the start of the day.

  • Can cause students to fall behind.

  • Disrupts the lesson for everyone.

  • Creates a bad habit that can be hard to break in the workplace and lead to poor employment.

Research shows that children with poor attendance are at a disadvantage later in life. They often:

  • Find it harder to make and maintain friendships.

  • Are less likely to gain good qualifications.

  • Earn lower wages.

  • Have a higher chance of being unemployed.

  • Have low self-esteem.

Poor attendance and lack of punctuality, even at the earliest age, can affect achievement in later life. Establishing good habits from the start helps children to settle more quickly into new settings and routines.


  • Establish a good bedtime routine.

  • Ensure that your child always gets a good night’s sleep and therefore awakes rested the next morning.

  • Provide a schedule and have children organize their materials the night before (e.g. books, instrument, sneakers, clothes).

  • Make sure children do their homework the night before, there may not be time to complete it in the morning.

  • Aim to always be at school 15 minutes before the start of the school day (aim for 7:45 am). If the unexpected happens you can still get to school on time.

In the elementary years, it is the parent’s responsibility to get their child to school on time. Thank you to all of our families that support their child’s education by encouraging good attendance and punctuality!


Upcoming Important Dates

Early Release - Wednesday, December 23rd

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Boys and Girls Club and YWCA will be open. Family First and FLEX Eagle's Nest will be closed on 12/23*

Winter Recess - Thursday, December 24th - Friday, January 1st

School Reopens - Monday, January 4th

Growing Young Readers

Haul out the Holiday Story Traditions

Click here for a great article about how reading with your child can become a quiet, relaxing tradition during the holidays.

Haul out the Holiday Story Traditions

Below is a fun read-aloud for our young readers - There's an Elf in Your Book by Tom Fletcher!
There's an Elf in Your Book - Read Aloud Picture Book | Brightly Storytime

Here are some fun ways to weave reading all through the month of December!

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Virtual Parent Chats

During these challenging times, please join us for a virtual “Parent Video Chat” facilitated by one of our GPS psychologists. Connect virtually with other parents in our community and learn effective strategies to manage personal stress and discuss relevant topics. You can join at any point during a session and stay for as long as you can. We are here to answer questions and provide support.


December - Coping with Anxiety and Stress Management

January - Fostering Resilience at Home

Elementary School Parents

Tuesday, December 22 at 7pm

Friday, January 8th at 11 am

Monday, January 11 at 7pm

Secondary School Parents

Monday, December 14th at 7 pm

Tuesday, January 5th at 7pm

Wednesday, January 20th at 7pm

Friday, January 29th at 10 am

Elementary & Secondary Parents in Spanish

Thursday, December 17th at 7 pm

Tuesday, January 26th at 7pm


In order to join this session, you will have to access the Google Meet Conference link shared with you. You can choose to open our camera or not. Once you join, please mute your microphone to avoid background noises. You can turn it on when asking a question or use the chat function to ask questions or make comments. Presenters will share with you additional resources and links after the session is over.

Google Meet Link for all meetings:

Don't Forget to Show Your JC Spirit!

It's the perfect time to shop for holiday gifts - there is a 25% off sitewide sale!

Each Friday, we show our Julian Curtiss School spirit by wearing our JC Spirit Wear or our school colors which are green and white. We would also love to see everyone come to the first day of school showing lots of JC Eagle pride!

If you are looking for some new Spirit Wear, families, staff, and teachers may order whatever they like. There are masks, stadium seats, blankets, and other fun accessories as well as clothing. You can customize the logos, colors, etc. (within select choices). There are no minimums. The company will produce and ship directly and Julian Curtiss will receive a 12% commission. Hopefully easy for all! Click below to see all of our fun, new JC Spirit Wear!

¿Necesita leer nuestro boletín en español?

¿Necesita leer nuestro boletín en español? Haga clic en cualquier parte de este correo electrónico, desplácese hasta la parte inferior y haga clic en traducir. Luego, seleccione español, y el boletín debería aparecer en español. ¡Gracias!

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Please follow Mrs. McGuire and Mrs. Brush on Twitter

@JCSPrincipal and @JCSEaglesAP