Get Involved in the 2018 Beacon High School Career Fair!

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With the huge success of last year's Beacon High School Career Fair, the school is currently seeking presenters for the 2018 Career Fair. It is a great opportunity to network with other businesses and share your knowledge with the students. The event will be held on Friday, May 25, from 10 am to 3 pm at the Beacon High School gymnasium. Presenters are asked to set up at the high school at 9 am. 

The fair will be set up in the gymnasium, where each presenter will have their own table to display information and items that represents the person’s career/profession that can serve as talking pieces with visitors. Students are invited to walk around and speak to the different presenters of their choice.

The career fair is seeking people who work in the following professions: 

  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Professional Athlete
  • Professional Actor/Actress
  • Fashion Designer/Model
  • Sports Management
  • Surgeon
  • Music producer
  • Nurse
  • Professional Photographer
  • Film Director
  • TV/Film Camera man
  • Interior Designer
  • Stock Broker/Hedge fund
  • Psychiatrist
  • Social Worker
  • Video Game Designer
  • YouTuber

If you are interested in participating, feel free to contact Michele Polhamus, School Counselor, by email at polhamus.m@beaconk12.org or by phone at (845) 838-6900.

Beacon School Budget Vote and Election 2018

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The annual School Budget Vote and Election will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, from 7 am to 9 pm. There will be two voting locations, so make sure you are going to the right polling place: 

Voters who reside within the boundaries of the City of Beacon can vote at Beacon High School, 101 Matteawan Road. Voters who reside within the boundaries of the Town of Fishkill or Town of Wappinger can vote at Glenham Elementary, 20 Chase Drive, Fishkill, NY. 

Please be aware that mailing addresses in the Beacon City School District do not always coincide with the city or town of residence. So if you have a Beacon mailing address, but your residence is located in the Town of Fishkill, you would report to Glenham Elementary to vote. 

If you are unsure of your polling location, you may contact District Clerk, Kelly Pologe, at (845) 838-6900 ext. 2032 or email at pologe.k@beaconk12.org. 

NEW in the Beacon Public School Fundraising Guide: The Color-A-Thon Returns to South Ave!

 South Avenue Elementary's Color-A-Thon is the latest event added to A Little Beacon Blog's collection of fundraising efforts by public school PTO/As.

South Avenue Elementary's Color-A-Thon is the latest event added to A Little Beacon Blog's collection of fundraising efforts by public school PTO/As.

Get your running shoes on!

Registration is going on now for the second annual Color-A-Thon, bursting into action at South Avenue Elementary School. And the best part is - aside from raising money for new playground equipment for the school, as well as other needs designated by the teachers - is that this race is open to everyone! You don't need to go to South Avenue to participate. And it's really not a race - it's a run through bright powder blasts of color, thrown on you by teachers and friends positioned at designated color points.

Deadlines:
Registration: Friday, March 23, 2018
The Big Day of the Color-A-Thon: Saturday, April 14, 2018

This is one of the newest opportunities added recently to A Little Beacon Blog's Guide for Beacon Public School Fundraising opportunities.

'Tis the Season for Running and Funding

This race marks also the warming up of A Little Beacon Blog's 5K Race Guide, even though this run is only one block long! You just run or walk it three times! Seriously. I did it pregnant last year. Ok, I did not walk the block, but I did throw color on walkers and runners. Most people didn't even realize that they ran around the block three times, and some people kept running until they cleared six circuits - talk about getting some energy out!

Beacon Bulldog Swag

The Beacon Bulldogs are raising money for the Beacon High School Football Department. T-shirts and more are on sale now, but the order deadline is Sunday, April 8, at midnight sharp. Get your swag for the season!

Get all of these details at A Little Beacon Blog's Public School Fundraising Guide! Do you or your business love Beacon City Schools? Show your school pride and sponsor this Guide! Be part of making our Guides possible. Details here in A Little Beacon Blog's Media Kit.

Here's How Beacon Students Are Participating in WALKOUT on March 14th in Response to Gun Violence

A national walkout is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, to acknowledge the tragic shooting in Parkland, FL. The Beacon City Schools have decided to participate in this movement, and have formed a plan with an administrative team, teachers and student leaders at the high school, according to Beacon's Superintendent Matt Landahl on his Superintendent Update blog.

All of Beacon's public schools - the elementary, middle and high school - will observe a moment of silence at 10 am. During that time, the elementary schools will be encouraged to "think about ways to spread kindness and love in our school, community and the world,” according to Matt. At the elementary level, the planning team was more comfortable keeping the kids in their regular routines, yet bringing awareness. There will be no walkout at this youngster level.

At the middle school and high school, students in social studies classes "will be taught ways to communicate with their local, state, and national representatives on issues important to them. We will not espouse any particular political views with this sharing but instead discuss the importance of elected representatives hearing from all of their constituents," according to Matt. Over the next few weeks, students will have the opportunity to create cards to be sent to the families of victims.

Students in the high school can attend a momentary moment of silence, and can spend it outside at designated areas on campus, which will be monitored by school staff. The Beacon Police Department will also have a presence at the secondary schools to help ensure safety.

At this time, Beacon City Schools has no plans to participate in other memorial activities on Friday, April 20, and all kids are encouraged to respect the Student Code of Conduct any time they leave school (with permission of their parents).

Upcoming Creative + Fun Events Supporting Beacon Schools! Rubik's Cubes, Movie Night, and More

A Little Beacon Blog now tracks the fundraising efforts for all of Beacon's public schools, and a few events are coming up! Movie Night, Line Dancing, Ice Cream Night - and Rubik's Cubes! See below for our roundup, and hit up A Little Beacon Blog's Public School Fundraising Guide  for dates and details.

PS: Do you love this Guide? Your business could support it (with your logo as a lead sponsor) and reach so many parents in the Beacon community! Please contact us to be a lead sponsor, and thank you!

JV FORRESTAL ELEMENTARY:
• Rubik's Cubes for Hands-On Library Learning: JVF Librarian Ms. Coleman is raising money to buy Rubik's Cubes that students can check out of the library.
• Beacon's All-Star Lip Sync Battle: This adults-only event at the Towne Crier raises money to support the Center for Creative Education's outreach programs to BCSD schools!
• Book Fair Next week!

GLENHAM ELEMENTARY
• Ice Cream & Bingo Night! Friday, March 9, from 6 to 8 pm. Kids and adults get to play bingo and eat FREE ice cream, donated by Stewart's.

ROMBOUT MIDDLE SCHOOL
• Shake What Your Mama Gave You! Zumba and line dancing to benefit the Rombout PBIS Committee!

BEACON HIGH SCHOOL
• Movie Night! In the Beacon High School Cafeteria, Beacon High School's National Honor Society is sponsoring the Valuable for Veterans fundraiser, screening the Academy Award-winning movie "Coco."

Moving On, But First...A RoundUp of the Gun Violence Issue at the Community Level

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The past two weeks have been paralyzing for a lot of people, especially parents of young kids currently in school. As the region was gripped by threats made last week all over the Hudson Valley, last Friday's Snow Day was actually kind of welcome. Parents received several robo-calls - which normally announce dreaded Snow Day closures. Instead, these were about threats made to the middle school and the high school, and how police would be stationed there. A Little Beacon Blog took time to process what has been going on around the Hudson Valley and open up coverage on it, so that we can produce future articles to help people be aware and prepared. The below links are articles to create awareness of the leadership that has been happening in the Beacon City School District, Beacon Police Department, and some cultural questions about these issues.


Consider this our Action Item in advance of the National Day of Action on Saturday, April 20.

PS: Finally, this mini-series of articles is done (hopefully!) and we are moving on, resuming our usual coverage of the goings-on in Beacon! Not only that, but it's sunny out! Hurray! Yet all signs point to a Wednesday Snow Day. <angry-face emoji> Sleds may still be available at Mountain Tops, where the superhero owners continue to show up every Snow Day with an Open sign.

Toy Guns and "No Big Deal" Guns Sold in Kid Stores - Impact on Gun Culture

 Blended screenshots of sales pages at Walmart's website, where this pink BB gun could have been sold to any prospective buyer, regardless of age (the age limit tool was broken). Walmart has since reversed its online sales policy, and now prohibits purchases of airsoft guns and toys.  Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Blended screenshots of sales pages at Walmart's website, where this pink BB gun could have been sold to any prospective buyer, regardless of age (the age limit tool was broken). Walmart has since reversed its online sales policy, and now prohibits purchases of airsoft guns and toys.
Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Growing up, you probably played Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers, or countless other kid games with guns. Your finger probably became a gun. Pew-pew! Your sister's magic wand probably became a gun. Heck, maybe a magic wand counts as a gun, when it hits someone with glitter.

Guns in our culture are as commonplace as staplers, or pens. You could even buy a bullet pen! I did for my dad last Christmas. I grew up making shotgun shells with him in our basement. He had the neatest shotgun shell-making thingy that clamped to the edge of the table. Toy guns for kids are sold in toy stores, in drug stores, and on any toy store website. How could you not want a Luke Skywalker laser gun? Or a Nerf gun blaster? And with YouTube videos featuring dads and their sons in all-out Nerf gun wars around the house, shooting people becomes very normal. 

Toy Guns In Beacon

Echo Beacon, open for more than 10 years and one of Beacon's most popular toy stores, doesn't carry toy guns. Owner Karen Donohue is a mother of a daughter, and made the decision years ago not to sell toy guns in her toy store. "I chose not to sell toy guns, as it just made me uncomfortable. I've been told by mothers of boys that they [the boys] will find any sort of stick or anything, and turn it into a gun despite Mom's efforts to say 'No,'" Karen recalls.

Echo is known for carrying educational toys, and Karen is big on nurturing the imagination. "I still feel this is a better use of the imagination than something that truly resembles a gun. I have, on occasion over the years, sold miniature squirt pistols, but nothing that could ever be remotely mistaken for a gun. In recent years I've been tempted to order them again, but they still give me pause."

Fatal Mistakes

Back in 2014, a 12 year old boy named Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a rookie police officer while he was playing near a gazebo at a recreation center in Cleveland, OH. The boy was holding a pellet gun and a person called 911 to report that a person who was "probably" a child was holding a gun that was "probably fake," according to this Washington Post article. The officer was not told about the "probably" parts, and approached the child, and shot. The child died in the snow. The officer was not fired at the time, but in May of 2017, was fired for not including details about past employment when he was first hired months before the shooting, according to that Washing Post article.

Walmart Pulls Airsoft BB Guns From Website

Gun culture makes getting guns easy and a normalized part of life. When I published this article after the Parkland, Florida tragedy, I included a screenshot of Walmart's website to show how easy it was to purchase a rifle online. A reader commented that the rifle shown in the example was a BB gun, and not, I suppose, an assault weapon. The implication, it seemed, was that buying a BB gun was no big deal. Not wanting to exacerbate the debate, I removed the picture to keep the focus on finding a solution. In that time, however, Walmart announced that it was pulling rifles like BB guns from their website (see the NPR report "Walmart Joins Dick's Sporting Goods In Tighter Limits On Gun Sales"). And in an instant, the page I had just visited to buy the pink rifle BB gun had vanished.

 

From the NPR Article:
Walmart is also removing items from its website "resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys" — like the air gun Tamir Rice was playing with when he was shot by a Cleveland police officer who thought the 12-year-old was armed.

Companies aren't wanting to be associated with gun accidents or planned tragedies. So they are backing away and minimizing their liability. Any connection with tragedies is bad for business; the gun shop owner who sold the Parkland shooter one of his weapons felt compelled to hire a PR company to help issue statements. The issue of gun control has taken on a new dimension as companies get involved by limiting - or even ending altogether - their involvement.

The Mindset of Guns as Toys, Tools, and the Norm

 A page from the  Diary of a Wimpy Kid  series, where a swim meet starts with a pistol blast, scaring the Wimpy Kid.

A page from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, where a swim meet starts with a pistol blast, scaring the Wimpy Kid.

With guns being so prevalent in everyday lives, is it time to look at them differently? Would fresh perspective curb the ease with which they are used as a solution to a social problem? To a troubled, heartbroken, misunderstood teenager?

The picture above is taken from a page in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. In the book, the Wimpy Kid is forced to join a swim team. The first thing that scares him is the pistol shot to start the meet. He thinks it is a real gun, and hides under the water.

Why is a pistol used to start a swim meet? Could a whistle be used?

Why are toy pistols sold in a toy store? When a toy pistol is placed at 5-year-olds' eye level, where it hangs right next to something neutral like a slime-making kit or glow-in-the-dark bouncy ball, it conditions young minds that guns are toys.

The Not Discussed, Uncomfortable Notion of Gun Safety and Preparedness

If we consider CPR courses, Defensive Driving courses, and Fire Safety workshops to be normal and accepted practice, could Gun Safety training courses also become normal? To train prospective users that guns are really not toys, should be taken seriously, and how to use a gun in dangerous or threatening situations?

I asked Beacon's City Administrator, Anthony Ruggiero, if there had been any Active Shooter Training Workshops in Beacon. He responded that there have been in the past, when Beacon sponsored the County Citizens Preparedness Training courses, but he added that the sessions were not very well attended. He says another will be hosted in April.

Perhaps the mindset will shift, to one away from being a sitting duck, and one toward mental defense (think Bourne Identity...where are the exits? how to fight back? what everyday objects can become lifesaving tools?), planning, and rooting out the mindset of guns as toys.

Beacon City Schools to Perform Security Audits with Altaris Consulting Group

Beacon's School Superintendent Matthew Landahl announced Sunday via the school blog that all school buildings will undergo security audits by the company Altaris Consulting Group in order to receive recommendations for improvement. Altaris Consulting Group will also provide specialized training for Beacon City School District staff throughout the next year.

"They [Altaris Consulting Group] work with many districts in the area and we are very excited to start this work," said Dr. Landahl in his blog article.

See A Little Beacon Blog's earlier article on how the school district has been responding to the current gun violence crises.

City of Beacon to Vote on Joining National Day of Action on April 20 to Protect Students Against Gun Violence

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UPDATE [3/6/2018]: The City Council voted Yes, and Beacon's School Superintendent attended the meeting and thanked the Beacon Police Department for their recent help.

During the March 5, 2018 City Council Meeting, the Beacon City Council will vote on a resolution to join the National Day of Action on April 20 to Protect Students Against Gun Violence, which is a movement spearheaded by the Network for Public Education after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. The Network for Public Education was founded in 2013 as an advocacy group whose mission is to preserve, promote, improve and strengthen public schools for both current and future generations of students.

 

As Stated by the Network for Public Education:
"Inspired by the courageous young people in Parkland, Florida, the Network for Public Education is joining with national organizations, schools and communities on April 20, 2018, the anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, to say 'No more.'

"Not one more child murdered in school. Not one more parent sending a child to school who never comes home. Not one more teacher, coach, principal, librarian or any school staff standing between students and a gunman. No. More.
 
"We call on every school community in America to join us to demand that our leaders take real action to end gun violence
."

 

According to proposed legislation documents for Beacon, the Beacon City Council intends to join a National Day of Action on April 20, 2018, and "calls upon the state and federal governments to enact stricter controls governing the sale, possession and distribution of firearms and other dangerous weapons."

Several legislative suggestions are proposed on the National Day of Action's website, addressing gun control, mental health, and bullying prevention. At the local level here in Beacon, the City Council has written the following items to be sent to New York State Senator Sue Serino and Assemblyman Frank Skartados, and United States Representative Sean Patrick Maloney and United States Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer:

Beacon City Council's Suggested Legislation for New York State

  • Legislation to raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21.
  • Legislation to ban bump stocks.
  • Legislation to prohibit the sale, production and importation of assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
  • Legislation to prevent certain individuals with mental health conditions from buying firearms, in conjunction with legislation, regulations or public policies that encourage mental health evaluations, including ongoing mental and behavioral health support for students identified as being of imminent threat to themselves or others, and enhanced student access to mental health supports in schools and communities.

Additional Gun Awareness Events

Attendees at the February 20, 2018, City Council meeting thanked Mayor Randy Casale for holding a moment of silence for the victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting. They then promoted nationwide events that are going on to address the issue, namely the school walkout on March 14, and nationwide demonstrations on March 24, 2018.

This week via the school blog, Beacon Schools' Superintendent Matthew Landahl announced a collaboration with the Beacon Police Department: "Working with the Beacon PD, we will have one police officer working between both Beacon High School and Rombout Middle School during the school day for the upcoming week. The presence of the police officer is simply to help us feel safe and secure next week. Thanks to the BPD for helping us out!"

The superintendent will be releasing more information on how Beacon City Schools will be participating in the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018.

Beacon Increases School Searches and Safety Measures

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Back when the Beacon City School District was going through a leadership crisis, with a high rate of superintendent turnover, the Board of Education encouraged the community to participate in surveys so the board could hear what the community wanted in a superintendent. One of the strongest desires that became clear from that process was the need for Communication. Thus, Dr. Matt Landahl was found and hired, and he moved his family to Beacon. Right out of the gate, he has been a robust letter writer, an avid tweeter, and a super blogger for the school. To be real, this is his first year on the job in Beacon, so it is still a trial period. But since Week 1 of the school year, he has been in parents' ears and inboxes, testing the school district's upgraded robo-call system to make sure it works.

This Just In Via Robo-Call - 19 K-9 Teams Sweep All Beacon Schools

Over the past week, parents in the Beacon City School District have received several robo-calls: Someone from the school records a message that gets sent to phones, turned into emails, and is miniaturized into texts. Parents and other caregivers can get informed about something in at least three different ways. And yes, this is a different system from robo-call systems of years past; robo-call systems don't all work this way.

On Thursday, February 22, 2018, the Beacon School District Community was informed - via robo-call - of a threat made to Rombout Middle School.

 

Partial Message from February 22, 2018 Alert from Dr. Landahl:
We want to make you aware of a situation reported to us that involves Rombout Middle School. The Beacon City Police Department received a report yesterday evening of a concern about a potential school violence threat for Rombout Middle School. The School District and the Police Department investigated the matter yesterday evening and concluded that there was no credible threat made against the school.

We will continue to work closely with the Beacon City Police Department in all matters of threats of violence and potential harm reported to either the school district or the police department to ensure that we are working together to safeguard our students, staff, and community.

 

On Wednesday, February 28, another alert was issued, this time for the Beacon High School. This was also the same day that students in Parkland, Florida, returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. According to Time.com, 95 percent of students returned to school that day. Closer to home, around the Hudson Valley, school closures and arrests were happening after threats were made to schools, and weapons caches were found (see our article about that here).

 

Message from February 28, 2018 Alert from Dr. Landahl:
I recently received information that there was writing found at Beacon High School that can be perceived as a threat, with the wording March 1st.  Our High School administration has been investigating the incident and we are also working closely with the Beacon Police Department.

This evening, the Beacon Police Department will be doing a sweep of all our buildings and there will be a police officer in our high school all day on March 1st. 

Please be advised that all after-school activities will be canceled this evening at Beacon High School. All other buildings in the district will close at 6:00 pm. I will send out a follow-up robo-call once we have an all-clear confirmation from the police department. 

We take the safety of our students and staff very seriously and I [will] be in touch soon with an update.

 

That night, parents had to pick up their children early from after-school activities because something was going to happen in the buildings conducted by the District at 6 pm. We didn't know what specifically was going on, so parents and program leaders just smiled and nodded calmly to each other at Kid Pickup.

The next robo-call came that evening at about 9 pm, informing us that all of the Beacon City Schools had been searched by police officers and 19 K-9 dog units.

 

Message from February 28, 2018 Alert from Dr. Landahl:
This is Matt Landahl with an update regarding school safety. This evening, the Beacon City Police Department, coordinating with our staff, deployed 19 K-9 teams to do an intensive sweep of all six of our school buildings. After each school was swept this evening, the building was secured. After this review, the Beacon Police Department has given us an all clear for the schools. We will be open tomorrow. 

We will have one police officer stationed at the high school for the entire school day tomorrow and another police officer stationed between the high school and middle school for additional security.

We take the safety of our students, staff, and school buildings very seriously. We do not find this threat to be credible but we wanted to be extremely cautious in our approach this evening and tomorrow. The Beacon Police Department has done a tremendous job working with us.

 

I got the robo-call with my elementary-age kids around me, as we were in bedtime mode. They heard my involuntary reaction, and asked what happened. My husband and I have been discussing how we want to tell the kids about what is happening. (And by "discussing," I mean in basically three-minute spurts between news broadcasts or moments tucked into other conversations.)

I told the kids that a threat had been made, and that police dogs searched for bad things and found everything to be safe. The kids asked what a "threat" was, and we had a conversation defining that, with examples, until they understood.

I could see dots getting connected in their minds as to what has been going on around them. "Oh, that's why there was a police officer at my school yesterday!" Ok... didn't know there was a police officer at your school yesterday, but good to know.

How Are The Kids?

Conversations are starting to percolate now among parents. Word on the street (real and virtual) is that kids are handling the increased tensions well, as different stressors pop up all the time in school, and uncomfortable incidents - whether we like it or not - have become par for the course. And it's true. Programs get initiated that we don't always know about (or we missed the memo teachers sent home in kids' folders), so the kids come home telling us about a puppet show that taught them how to tell an adult about sexual abuse. Or how they learned about fire safety from the Fire Chief who came to visit. Or that they ate cabbage for the first time from their school garden. Or that they talked about bullying and what that means or what is or isn't the best way to say something to another person. Or that they had a lock-down drill. Usually parents are informed about lock-down drills (aka active-shooter training) in advance. Recently, parents received a robo-call from the school principal with a report on how the kids did in a lock-down drill.

In my sphere, mentions of homeschooling are coming up, as parents instinctively want to keep their kids home in an environment we all perceive as safe and controlled. But tragic events seem random - remember the sniper in DC all of those years ago, who had the teenager with him? Despite tragic events, we are all going to have to leave our houses. Being part of a community makes us stronger. Locally, there is talk at the school district level of including the homeschooling community in district sports, at the homeschooling community's request.

In Parkland, the high school students are being led in part by their principal, who is sending encouraging messages, some of which come via Twitter. One of the more surprising ways he's cheerleading for his students: He is bringing furry friends onboard, even increasing the number of therapy dogs on campus.

  Photo Credit: Screenshot from Principal Thompson's  Twitter .

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Principal Thompson's Twitter.

  Photo Credit: Screenshot from Principal Thompson's  Twitter .

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Principal Thompson's Twitter.

  Photo Credit: Screenshot from Principal Thompson's  Twitter.

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Principal Thompson's Twitter.