John Dodig’s Message

Staples High School principal John Dodig addressed all students and staff this morning — the 1st day back after a difficult weekend. He said:

Good morning everyone.

I want to say a few things about the tragedy that occurred in Newtown on Friday. It was horrible, and impossible to understand. I am sure that not one of us can understand what would drive someone to do such an awful thing.

For those of us adults who learned of it early on Friday, we had two reactions. One was as parents or grandparents if we have children. Even if we don’t, we have relatives who do. I, for example, immediately saw the faces of my 2 elementary school-age grandchildren. That makes it personal and very emotional.

Then, we think of it as teachers and administrators. What would we do in such a circumstance? Would we be able to follow the lockdown procedures we have practiced? How would we keep you students safe? How would I, your principal, react in a similar situation?

John Dodig -- principal and proud Staples supporter.

John Dodig — principal and proud Staples supporter.

Honestly, after thinking of my grandchildren, I saw flashes of many of your faces, those I have gotten to know over the years. That also makes it personal. I love my grandkids, and I love you and believe it is my responsibility to keep you safe. That is how my assistant principals felt as we talked to each other in the cafeteria watching you eat lunch on Friday. I think the only way to get through something like thisis to make it personal, and to deal with the emotions that naturally come forth.

We have a security plan, we practice drills, and we hope that we will all do what we have to do if the need ever arises. Such an incident is precisely why we have a security plan. It is why we keep our doors locked and why we have video cameras throughout our building.

I urge you to use this incident to be sure to play your part in our overall security plan. It is vital that you all take these drills seriously. Don’t prop open outside doors and if you see one open, close it. My staff and I do that all day long as we walk around the building. Only open an outside door for someone you know. If you don’t know the person, don’t open the door. If she or he gets angry with you, so be it.

We enjoy a very comfortable life at Staples. We care about and for one another. As Marc Elliot said two weeks ago, we accept each other’s differences. I feel certain that if any one of you read something on Facebook or heard something said by someone that you thought was a danger to someone here, you would tell us. Caring about each other is the best security system in the world.

Staples High School today.

Staples High School today.

We cannot and will not turn Staples into a fortress. First of all, it would not guarantee safety, and secondly it would not be an environment in which we would want to live each day. That is not the solution for us. Our best response has to be to continue caring about one another; to reach out in friendship to those who seem not able to make connections and friends at Staples; to acknowledge our responsibility to each other.

You have heard me say many times that my goal is for 100% of you to love Staples High School. That goal can only be reached by all of us, students and staff alike, doing our part to make Staples safe, caring, nurturing, and accepting of everyone’s right to be here every day to learn.

As you know, I am very proud of this school and what all of us have created here. Let us mark this day as the day that we not only continue to sustain this wholesome environment, but the day that we actually talk about it out loud to each other so that we all know and accept our part in making Staples what it is.

Members of our counseling and support staff are in the cafeteria and library media center, as well as in their offices, and will be available all day if you need to speak to someone.

Now let’s take a moment to think about the little children and the adults who were killed on Friday. Think about how their sacrifice will contribute to making Staples even better than it is.

Thank you.

8 responses to “John Dodig’s Message

  1. Mr. Dodig really does love Staples. It makes all the difference.

  2. The one thing that bothers me is the last sentence. I cannot think that these children’s “sacrifice” will make Staples a better place – they had absolutely no choice in the matter, which is essentially what a sacrifice is. I doubt Mr. Dodig meant for it to sound this way, but it quite honestly makes us sound arrogant – that what has happened will help us in the long run. What happened was tragic and unjust and there is no way to put a positive spin on it.

    • While I completely understand your sentiment, and perhaps “sacrifice” is a poorly chosen word, and there is no way to put a “positive spin” on it, but in the end, I think Mr. Dodig means that SOMETHING of value to us as a society (home, school, Westport, CT and beyond) must come of this tragedy. Otherwise, we learn absolutely nothing and the possibility of it happening again and again and again grows.

    • Westport Delight

      I will guess, by your name, that you are of a younger age. All I can say is that as you mature and grow older, you’ll gain perspective and realize that while it hurts to hear, John Dodig’s sentiment is correct.

      A sacrifice is not always by choice. You’re misinterpreting the use of the word in this case, I think. Nothing “positive” about this tragedy at all.. But it will ignite the public and, hopefully, bring reform to gun control and the treatment of mental illness.

      You wish this tragedy on no one. And Mr. Dodig was not thanking the victims for the sacrifice. He was acknowledging that these innocent people have now BECOME a sacrifice for the nation, and we must honor that through change and action. Staples and Westport and Connecticut will become better for it. It might take months, or even years, for you to see that.

      • Wesport Delight please don’t belittle someone else’s honest thoughts…age has nothing to do with the “Staples Kid” feelings that were shared. You do sound like you are arrogantly “schooling” “Staples Kid” on how to express/share his/her OWN feelings, and that you know best because of your age…Take a lesson from “Staples Kid” and you do you.
        “Staples Kid” i feel that what you wrote was honest and accurate and I agree with you. I don’t think Principal Dodig mean to make is sound like that at all…but i agree it did.
        “Westport Delight” Own your own feelings not someone elses please.

      • Well said.

  3. Before and after the horrific tragedy i have sent my children into the Westport public schools knowing that they are looked after with dedication and passion- Now in the second year at SHS i am continually reminded of John Dodig’s passion for our/”his” children. His passion trickles down throughout the school.