Evanston Township High School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon has sent a letter to parents outlining the school’s response to recent shootings in the city, some of which have occurred within blocks of the school.
Here’s the text of the letter:
Dear ETHS Parents and Guardians,
By now you have probably seen or heard reports of the recent shootings that have occurred in the Evanston community. We want you to be assured that Evanston Township High School (ETHS) has made many preparations to help keep our school and campus safe and secure. Our goal is to be as prepared as we can be for any potential situation. The safety and well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority.
The Evanston Police Department (EPD) indicates that these recent tragic events in the community are not random acts of violence and they are making every effort to keep our community safe. Nonetheless, many of our teachers and staff, students and their families have been experiencing various levels of grief, fear, anxiety and frustration as a result of these tragic deaths and the senseless gun violence in our community. ETHS will continue to provide grief counseling for our students and staff, and a list of community crisis resources is provided should you or your teen need additional support. (Click here for the list of resources.)
On Wednesday, December 12, I shared my thoughts about these tragedies with students and staff over the public address system following the most recent homicide on Tuesday night. During my message, I provided the following precautionary safety reminders:
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
- When out in public places, watch and listen for anything unusual; minimize distractions such as earbuds and headphones so that you can hear what is going on around you.
- Arrange for a ride home if you are leaving the ETHS campus after dark. If you typically walk home or ride the CTA bus, talk with your parent/guardian about arranging a ride home with other trusted adults after evening practices or events.
- Let your parent or guardian know where you are at all times and who you are with. Your parent/guardian can help you make safe choices about whether or not you should attend parties or other social activities.
- Adhere to the City of Evanston curfew. On Sunday-Thursday evenings, curfew begins at 10 p.m. and lasts until 6 a.m. the following day. On Friday and Saturday night, curfew begins at 11 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. the following day. Curfew applies to youth under 17.
- Don’t hesitate to talk with your ETHS counselor or social worker if you feel you need to talk with someone. Grief counseling will be ongoing. Students only need to request a pass from their teacher. Additional counseling resources are available in the community should you need support outside of school.
- If you hear or observe anything that concerns you, let a school official or police officer know or text an anonymous tip to our Text-A-Tip message line.
Both ETHS and EPD have an anonymous Text-A-Tip message lines. Students, parents and staff can text a tip to ETHS school officials on school days from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Text your tip to CRIMES (274637) and type the keyword ETHS at the beginning of your message, followed by a detailed text message. This information is printed on the inside cover of the ETHS Student Pilot and is available online. After school hours and on days when school is not in session, tips should be sent to EPD’s Text-A-Tip line at CRIMES (274637) and type the keyword EPDTIP at the beginning followed by a detailed text message. The Evanston Police Department’s Text-A-Tip line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you witness a crime in progress, call 911.
Parents, if your student is at school for evening or weekend events or activities, please confirm transportation plans in advance. If your teen typically walks home or rides the CTA bus, talk with your family members or trusted parents of students on your child’s athletic team, student club, or theatre/music group about arranging a ride home after evening practices or events. Remember that CTA buses to and from ETHS (#93, #206 and #205) run less frequently in the evenings and on weekends. CTA schedules are available in the ETHS Safety Office. To plan your specific route, call the CTA at 312-836-7000, or visit www.goroo.com.
Please remember that we are members of a community, and as community members, and members of the ETHS family, we must work together to address our own fears and our heightened worries. While the Evanston police and city officials are taking steps to address the violence in our community, we can all be taking steps to keep ourselves safe.
Eric Witherspoon, Ph.D.