A Berkshire Eagle Special Report: How safe are our schools?

Berkshire Eagle forum on school safety set for Wednesday


PITTSFIELD — As more demonstrations and legislation develop around gun laws and school safety this month, The Berkshire Eagle on Wednesday will host a "Panel Forum on Gun Violence, School Shootings, Gun Safety and Solutions," to help foster a positive community conversation about these issues with local school administrators, students and public safety officials.

The panel and question-and-answer session will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Barrington Stage Company's Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in downtown Pittsfield. Participants will have the opportunity to hear directly about the experiences of the panelists, how these issues affect them and how they're being addressed within schools and communities.

Panelists include:

- Tom Nadolny, Farmington River Regional School District superintendent, principal of Farmington River Elementary School in Otis and firearms safety instructor;

- Roberta Sarnacki, Otis Police chief, parent, educator and firearms safety advocate;

- Barbara Malkas, superintendent of North Adams Public Schools, veteran Massachusetts school administrator and teacher educator;

- Bryanna McKearney, Taconic High School senior and co-coordinator of recent school demonstrations;

- Abby Mooney, Taconic High School senior and co-coordinator of recent school demonstrations;

- Makailey Cookis, Pittsfield High School senior and co-coordinator of recent school demonstrations;

- Jayme McGuigan, Miss Hall's School senior, student leader and Pittsfield resident.

Eagle Community Engagement Editor Jenn Smith will moderate the panel discussion and a question-and-answer session with additional Eagle staff members.

Information about how to talk to young people and families about violence and safety will also be made available to audience participants.

The date of the forum coincides with a national walkout day being planned a month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., but Smith said the event will be focused on hearing different perspectives and will not be about taking sides.

Families, school groups and community organizations are particularly encouraged to participate in the discussion by submitting their questions via note cards. Other flyers about upcoming school and gun safety programs are welcomed to be brought and shared at the end of the event.

"These may be uncomfortable topics for some, but people need a chance to come to learn, talk and think about these issues together as a community," Smith said. "We're glad to have Barrington Stage Company's support in hosting this exceptional group of panelists and encouraging a thoughtful, civil and engaging countywide dialogue."

Barrington Stage Company is a gun-free building and members of the Pittsfield Police Department will be on duty during the event. The theater is handicapped accessible, and assistive listening devices are available.


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