Situation at Van Antwerp – Message from the Principal on Monday, June 11

Monday, June 11 Message from Principal Luke Rakoczy

Dear Van Antwerp Families:

I want to reassure you all that we had a smooth opening this morning and the school day is proceeding on its normal schedule. I addressed students over the PA system this morning and want to share with you my message to them.

First and foremost, I thanked students for how they handled a difficult situation on Friday. They listened, they were brave and they followed procedures, and this was all incredibly helpful.

I told students that we are focused on making sure today is a normal school day so that they feel as comfortable as possible. They may notice an increased police presence in the building over the coming days as part of their active criminal investigation into this matter. Again, police have assured us that our school can resume normal school activities.

It is important that students know how seriously the school and police take the situation that occurred on Friday. As we applaud students for their cooperation, it was important for me to remind them of this.

We made sure students are aware that school counselors are available if they need support or just feel like they want to talk with someone. Also, at the end of this message, you can find some resources for parents to talk with their children about school safety.

Additionally, we remind students and our entire VA community that safety is all of our concern and anyone who sees a situation that doesn’t seem safe should talk to an adult at school.

Finally, please know that anytime we have situations like what took place on Friday, we review what happened to evaluate where practices and procedures worked and what can be improved.

As a school, we will be working over the next couple of weeks to ensure that all students feel supported and have a positive end to the year. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in this effort.

Sincerely,

Luke Rakoczy
Van Antwerp Principal

Resources for Parents to Talk to Their Children

Please note that while the resources below don’t apply directly to the situation at Van Antwerp on Friday, there may be some information in each that will be helpful in having conversations with children.

Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)

School Violence Prevention: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)

Helping Children Cope with Tragedy (National Association of Elementary School Principals)

Helping Children Manage Distress (American Psychological Association)  While this resource is designed to be a guide after a violent event,  many of the points made may be helpful to families.

Sunday, June 10, Message from Principal Luke Rakoczy

Dear Van Antwerp Families:

Following the situation at the school on Friday, I want to make sure you know that school will open on its normal schedule on Monday, June 11. All before and after school activities will take place as planned.

We understand that Friday was a difficult day for our students. Counselors will be available for any students who need support. Students are encouraged to talk to their counselor or a teacher if needed.

Students may notice a police presence at school on Monday as they continue their investigation into Friday. Police have assured us that school can open as usual on Monday.

Our school remains focused on supporting students and having a positive end to the school year.

Thank you,

Luke Rakoczy
Van Antwerp Principal

Friday, June 8 Updates

Update: 7:09 p.m.

At this time, the buses have departed the school and the walkers/bikers are being released.

We do acknowledge that the dismissal process took some time. Working with the police, classrooms were dismissed one room at a time for safety and student supervision purposes. We would like to thank the Niskayuna Police Department for its work today.

Thank you for your patience these past several hours. We would also like to thank our students, who did a great job today.

As we mentioned in the previous note, we will be taking steps to open next week on a positive and supportive note for our students following the difficult circumstances today.

Thank you,

Luke Rakoczy,
Van Antwerp Principal

Update: 5:50 p.m.

At this time, the Niskayuna Police Department has informed us that the lockdown can be lifted and students can be dismissed from school. Although the department’s investigation into today’s situation is continuing, no credible threat was identified.

In order to efficiently release students, all students except walkers/bikers will board a bus to go home. This is the safest and most efficient way to get all of the students home to their families. Thank you for understanding.

Once the buses have left, our walkers and bikers will be released.

Please note today’s situation does not affect the 7th grade trip pick-up. This will take place as planned.

Finally, we understand that today was likely a very difficult and concerning experience for many of our students. If they want to talk with you about it, we encourage you to have this conversation. You can assure them that the adults in their school and the police were working to ensure their safety and that the procedures activity today are meant to keep them safe.

Our school counselors will be ready to talk with any student who needs assistance on Monday morning. We will be meeting as a whole school staff to talk about how we can open the week on a positive and supportive note, and to review our safety procedures.

We thank you for your patience, understanding and support of students.

Luke Rakoczy
Van Antwerp Principal

Update: 5:05 p.m.

The Niskayuna Police Department is concluding the necessary procedures to release students. The school remains on lockdown, but we expect to have more information about dismissal in a short period of time. Students remain safe in their classrooms and no credible threat has been identified. We will provide more information as soon as possible.

Update: 3:52 p.m.

In regards to the precautionary lockout at Van Antwerp, the Niskayuna Police Department is continuing to investigate and the school remains on lockdown. No credible threat has been identified and students are safe in their classrooms with their teachers. The police department continues to work through its its procedures so that students can be released as soon as possible. We will provide you with another update in approximately one hour – by 5 p.m. – if not sooner.

Original message: 2:48 p.m.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. today (Friday, June 8) Van Antwerp Middle School went into lockdown based on a threatening note that was found in a bathroom.  At this time, the Niskayuna Police Department is on the scene to investigate. Per our procedures and the advice of police, students will not be dismissed while the school is on lockdown and the police investigate. Parents will not be able to enter the building. Students are safe. We will provide an update on dismissal procedures as soon as possible via e-mail, text and this web post.