EMSB’s Lew Lewis Visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Mr. Lewis paid his respects to the students and teachers who were killed in the mass school shooting on February 14 and shared what he learned from his experience. Gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others, making this one of the deadliest school massacres ever.
Mr. Lewis was deeply moved by what he saw on the grounds of the school, describing it as an emotionally overwhelming experience. “It hit me in my gut, my mind, and spiritually,” he said “The school grounds were covered with candles, testimonials, stuffed animals, crosses and stars of David, and very powerful activist statements like ‘#MSDStrong’, and ‘Sometimes it takes the worst pain to bring about the best change.’”
Mr. Lewis and his department staff address traumatic events that occur at the EMSB. On occasion, the Trauma Team works in conjunction with the police to resolve issues and deal with the aftermath of incidents. Every school has a safe school action plan, which primarily focuses on anti-bullying and anti-violence procedures, including preventive measures. He stresses the need to be vigilant and report anybody who may be seriously at risk to the administration. “We must make every attempt to identify those students who may cause harm to themselves and/or to others,” he said. “Sometimes we’re uncertain of the gravity of the situation. If you’re unsure, look into it. Don’t assume everything is ok. This applies to all administrators, teachers, professionals and support staff.”
The exposure to a number of negative elements in society today can have a harmful effect on youth, such as obsessive preoccupation with social media, mixed social messages, conflicting role models, insufficient empathy and the prevalence of a self-centered focus in society, stated Mr. Lewis. He stressed that we should all be taking a very close look at every element that may impact a student at risk, be it the nature of his/her social relationships, academic functioning, the family dynamic, past behaviour, and access to weapons.
“I have been impressed with the outstanding leadership recently demonstrated by the students across North America with respect to addressing the issue of violence and gun control measures,” added Mr. Lewis.