Creating A Safe Learning Environment

September 27, 2023

Dear Families,


I hope this letter finds you well and your student enjoying the first weeks of school. St. Johnsbury Academy faculty and staff are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your child’s experience this academic year, as we endeavor to live out our school theme of Semper discens – always learning – as a community.


We feel strongly that SJA provides many supports to create a safe learning environment on campus, including the advisory program, small class sizes, and programming and services to support students’ physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. While we believe that a community based on relationships leads to a safe environment, we also recognize the need to be prepared for the unforeseen. Just as we prepare for the unlikely emergencies of fire, weather, and other environmental hazards, we must also prepare for the unlikely event of a violent critical incident.


As part of our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe and educate all members to be situationally aware, we are adopting an options-based response system to a violent critical incident (active threat) this year. Specifically, we will prepare to use the ALICE response system (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), focusing on training and awareness this semester. ALICE and similar protocols are considered best practice at the national level, and the Vermont Agency of Education is strongly recommending that all schools in the state adopt them; the approach aims to empower faculty and staff with options during active threat situations. St. Johnsbury Academy faculty and staff have been trained in this protocol and will be preparing for the first discussion-based practice with students at the end of October. Classroom discussions and tabletop drills will introduce this information to students and look to build their confidence in our response system.


Evacuation and enhanced lockdown drills will be announced before the drill date. Be assured that we will not simulate violent incidents in any manner with students. Our faculty and staff will lead well-designed discussions as we adopt ALICE. Please find the below link for an understanding of the ALICE system and the training in which faculty and staff have engaged:


Please be in contact with any questions or concerns you may have.


John Lenzini
Associate Headmaster

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