In a letter addressed Wednesday to the “Lewiston Community,” Superintendent Jake Langlais offered ideas for talking with students about mass shootings that have rocked the nation in recent days, including a massacre in Texas that left 19 elementary school students and two teachers dead.

Here’s what Langlais said:

“I am reaching out to publicly share how gut wrenching the recent news has been about the school and community shootings in New York and Texas. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims. Such tragic loss for so many through such senseless acts. As a parent of current students in our schools, one can not help but wonder about the safety of all our students, staff, and school community. I think it is natural when there is a shooting at a grocery store, a school or other spaces where innocent lives are lost — to explore your own experiences and thoughts.

“I want to be sensitive and let you know that the content below may be hard for people to think about. Please pause to think about who your supporters are before reading further. Many have lived through traumatic experiences. I acknowledge this is a hard conversation that is highly emotionally charged for some. I just wanted to share some of the work we are doing because these threats are a reality in our world.

“We have identified time to train and practice some scenarios for active killer situations with school staff. Administration has done these already and have built in time next school year to practice with students. We are using a strategy known as Avoid, Deny, Defend. The practices of the past to hide in a corner are not sufficient given the potential threat. We have reviewed studies, we have looked at data, and we are acting on this knowledge to be equipped to stay safe and/or take back control of the situation.

“We are challenging you to have this conversation with your students. These strategies can be used repeatedly in any location and your students need to have this tough conversation. When you have the conversation make sure they know they have permission to Avoid, Deny, Defend. Help prepare your student(s) for the conversations we will be having. Below you will see some talking points taken directly from to be prepared:


AVOID starts with your state of mind

● Pay attention to your surroundings.

● Have an exit plan.

● Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible.

● The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better.

DENY when getting away is difficult or maybe impossible.


● Keep distance between you and the source.

● Create barriers to prevent or slow down a threat from getting to you.

● Turn the lights off.

● Remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects and silence your phone.

DEFEND because you have the right to protect yourself.

● If you cannot Avoid or Deny — be prepared to defend yourself.


● Be aggressive and committed to your actions.

● Do not fight fairly. THIS IS ABOUT SURVIVAL.

“We do not want to sound extreme in this approach. The information available through studies and other data tells us that these strategies save lives. We will share more information over time that includes strategies for family reunification. The priority now is to be prepared to make decisions with the information available in dangerous situations to Avoid, Deny, Defend regardless of where you are.

“We remain vigilant with support from Lewiston Police Department, our school resource officers, leadership, staff, and crisis management plans. In most cases statistically, these senseless acts are carried out by one individual. Avoid, Deny, Defend — I humbly ask that you have these conversations at home with your loved ones. There are additional resources on the link above should you choose to explore further information. Hopefully we never need it, but if we do, we have shared strategies that may save lives.”

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