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Iannazzi Stresses All-Day K, School Safety, in Inauguration Remarks

Cranston School Committee Chairwoman Andrea Iannazzi's speech at last night's inauguration ceremony used Rachel's Challenge as a framework.

The School Committee must work to implement all-day kindergarten, a new school security and safety plan and find common ground with the mayor and City Council over the next two years, newly-elected School Committee Chairwoman Andrea Iannazzi said last night during an inauguration ceremony at Cranston High School East.

Iannazzi’s remarks were set against a framework of “challenges,” inspired by the Rachel’s Challenge organization, which was founded by the parents of Rachel Joy Scott, a victim of the tragedy at Columbine.

Rachel’s Challenge presents five challenges to students and adults “very relevant to those serving the public,” Iannazzi said. Rachel believed compassionate acts can cause a chain reaction of more compassionate acts.

One challenge is to dream big and Iannazzi said her dream is to discuss a transition plan to implement all-day kindergarten. It’s a dream she said is “shared by many of the elected officials on this stage.”

Another challenge is to develop a new school safety plan to ensure all children who attend school in Cranston are kept safe, Iannazzi said.

“Our top priority as members of the School Committee is to provide our students with a safe and secure learning environment,” Iannazzi said. “We will work with any stakeholder interested in helping us achieve that goal- from Mayor Fung and Colonel Palumbo, to the federal and state delegation, to the Courts, Mental Health Agencies, Department of Education, and law enforcement.  Our children are our most precious asset and deserve nothing less than each of us working together to ensure their safety.”

Iannazzi’s complete remarks:

On November 5, I was proud to join my colleagues Stephanie Culhane and Frank Lombardi, along with the students of Western Hills Middle School, for the launch of Rachel’s Challenge.

The first challenge is to look for the best in others.  The School Committee, Council, and Mayor will not agree on every issue facing our City.  However, if we start with the premise that we all mean well and are all acting in the best interest of the students and taxpayers of Cranston, we can set aside our differences and find common ground.

Rachel’s second challenge is to dream big.  My big dream, a dream shared by many of the elected officials on this stage, is to discuss a transition plan to implement all-day Kindergarten.  This School Committee is fortunate to work with the most dedicated group of professionals assembled to improve public education for our students.  Our custodians, secretaries, aides, bus drivers, teachers, administrators, and non-certified staff are the best in the business and give their all for our students. 

Rachel’s third challenge is to choose positive influences.  Looking around this room, I know that to be the easiest challenge.  Each of us standing on this stage has a team behind us, from our families and friends to our mentors and colleagues in Government.  These are the people who positively impact each of us.

Challenge number four is to speak with kindness.  We are setting an example for our students and that example must be one of respect, compassion, and kindness.

Rachel’s final challenge is to start your own chain reaction.  The Rachel’s Challenge program has impacted over 17 million people- a number which I hope will grow substantially as the City of Cranston learns more about the program. 

After the launch of Rachel’s Challenge, we were confronted once again, by the same issue that took Rachel’s life and the lives of 14 others at Columbine High School— the need for common sense gun control.  On December 14, 2012 twenty-eight lives were lost in Newtown, Connecticut, including twenty innocent children.  Although it will be months before we learn the why’s and how’s of the Newtown shooting, I believe that it is never too early to start developing a plan to ensure our children’s safety here in Cranston.  

Our top priority as members of the School Committee is to provide our students with a safe and secure learning environment.  We will work with any stakeholder interested in helping us achieve that goal- from Mayor Fung and Colonel Palumbo, to the federal and state delegation, to the Courts, Mental Health Agencies, Department of Education, and law enforcement.  Our children are our most precious asset and deserve nothing less than each of us working together to ensure their safety.

Rachel’s Challenge and the Newtown tragedy have illustrated there is still room for improvement within our system of education.  Over the next two years, this School Committee will work tirelessly to better Cranston Public Schools by creating a chain of positive reactions, improving public education and keeping our children safe.

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