• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Hawkins reacts to school shooting in Marshall County

Hearing about the school shooting in Marshall County that claimed the lives of two 15-year-old students resonated with Woodford County school Superintendent Scott Hawkins on a very personal level.

Hawkins said he has known the schools superintendent in Marshall County since they both went through training as first-time superintendents several years ago. They also serve on a board together presently.

“So I’ve known Trent Lovett for quite awhile,” said Hawkins. “…And Marshall County’s a nice community … a close-knit community. And the grief that those families are feeling, who lost children, is just unimaginable. It shakes you to your core.”

“It literally breaks your heart,” he added, “because you know how it can impact that entire community.”

One of the best defenses to prevent school violence remains a school culture of having positive relationships with students, according to Hawkins. He said those relationships provide an avenue to help a student who might be hurting and a way to find out about what may happen in school before it occurs.

And as a parent, Hawkins said, “I’ve got to make sure that I’m keeping track of my child. That I’m in-tune with what she’s doing … We have to know what our kids are into. We need to know what they’re doing on social media. We need to know if there are signs of an issue that may be going on so we can get some help.

“We just have to be in-tuned with our kids.”

He said school social workers are also available to students who may be struggling with life issues such as a difficult relationship, and they may need specialized care outside of school.

“It’s just another level of support that we can provide,” said Hawkins, “that might be the difference for some of our kids.”

So in the aftermath of another school shooting in Kentucky, Hawkins said Woodford County schools will review its emergency plans and how to respond to those kinds of situations. Schools will also continue having multiple drills, including lockdown drills, during the school year.

“It’s just a good time to practice those kinds of situations so that not only are the students prepared, but all of our staff members are prepared as well,” said Hawkins.

He said district administrators review safety procedures with school staffers at the start of every school year “and then we practice it during the year.”

Any changes to the school district’s emergency plans would likely occur during the summer, said Hawkins.

He does not anticipate any changes being made in safety procedures, but the district might look at participating in active shooter drills where educators and administrators work with local law enforcement. “And then sometimes going through those exercises,” he added, “you may come across something that needs to be adjusted.”

However, Hawkins said providing a safe environment for students “starts with that solid culture of trust and commitment between kids and adults, and kids and kids; and having those extra resources there with our SROs (school resource officers) and social workers, and then our parents just really being in-tuned with their kids.”

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