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Superintendent's Newsletter

      

 

    Dr. Mike Simpson, Superintendent

 


February 2019

You would be hard pressed to find a school district or community in Oklahoma that has had a tougher sixty days than Guthrie.  We have endured the tragic death of four students as well as others that were taken far too soon.  January 27th is always a difficult day for me as I lost friends in a plane crash on that day in 2001.  Those friends were members of the Oklahoma State Basketball team.  This past January 27th I was sitting in church listening to a message with my thoughts on the past when my cell phone started to receive multiple text messages.  I glanced at the phone and realized I couldn’t ignore the messages as they were attached to yet another tragedy.  In the coming hours, I quickly confirmed the difficult facts and began putting in place protocols that we use as a district when our students and staff are faced with such a tragedy.

In December, Guthrie Junior High School faced a similar tragedy and now Charter Oak Elementary and Guthrie Upper Elementary School were affected.  In the week that followed each tragedy, our staff responded in a way that can only give us a sense of pride.  The students and teachers were hurting but they provided support for each other.  With both tragedies, candlelight vigils were followed by funerals to celebrate the lives of those taken far too soon.  I’ve seen counselors listening to students and staff members as they help them cope with their loss.  In many cases, this is the first time these children have seen death of someone their age.  On the Monday that followed the latest tragedy, I sat in with students at the Upper Elementary as they told stories about Carson Nyte while our counselors facilitated the conversation.  Although sad, there was a feeling of peace in the room as I knew healing was beginning. 

Our community has rallied around these families.  I watched Generations Church congregation open their doors for a chili dinner while donating proceeds to the families.  We were happy to provide the site for a car wash where donations were collected and many volunteers took a lot of red dirt off of the cars while showing love and gratitude for those lost.  Community Church opened their doors for both a candlelight vigil and a funeral.  I’m not sure Jelsma Stadium could have accommodated the crowd for the funeral, but the most poignant moment for me was listening to a father who had just lost his two children express gratitude to our community and concern for how others are hurting.

The most difficult part of my 28 years in education is watching parents attend their own child’s funeral.  The past sixty days have certainly been challenging but healing is happening.  We will come through this together as a community remembering Saul Bernal, Carson Nyte, Bentley Evans and Paisley Evans as they will be forever young.  Rest in peace Bluejays you’ve earned your wings.        

 

 

Previous Newsletters:

 

September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013  
April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013  
November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 April 2014 May 2014 August 2014  
October 2014 December 2014 January 2015 March 2015 April 2015 June 2015 July 2015  
August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 January 2016 March 2016 April 2016  
June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 February 2017  
May 2017 August 2017 November 2017 February 2018 April 2018 August 2018 October 2018  
December 2018 January 2019