The North Fork was “discovered” some time ago, and people from elsewhere, especially those with young families, came east in search of a better — read quieter and decidedly non-urban or suburban — lifestyle. In response, the Mattituck-Cutchogue and Southold school districts, with two of the town’s three high schools, completed large and expensive building projects to provide new space for new students.
Although several school campuses now bear little resemblance to what they were 15 years ago, our districts are still small. Just the way we like them.
Imagine, then, what must have been going through the minds of school administrators and parents in, say, New Suffolk, a close-knit community proud of the education it offers in the century-old little red schoolhouse on the hill, when faced with the horrific slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. It’s all but impossible to believe that people in such a charming local seaside village would be forced to react to the shootings. But react they did, as did each of our other four school systems.
Video surveillance systems, new security doors and new security personnel have been added to each school day.
Unfortunate, yes, but unfortunately unavoidable.
We doubt many, if any, of those who escaped to Southold believe that such tragedies couldn’t happen here. No textbooks exist to guide school officials on how to avoid overreacting to or ignoring them. But we believe our school boards rose to the challenge calmly yet with purpose and determination, each striving to strike a balance to improve student safety and security without creating walled fortresses.
Let’s not kid ourselves that these most recent security upgrades offer a 100 percent guarantee. There is no such thing — in either New Suffolk or Newtown or Washington, D.C. But our schools did what they could as quickly as they could. And for that they deserve our thanks and praise.