A message from Mr. Handmaker

Dear Members of the Keystone Community, 

This week, Mr. Handmaker shared the letter below with Keystone parents. Since many people who read the Keystone Communiqué come from other constituencies, such as friends of the school or alumni, we decided to repost it here.

Dear Parents,

When the news broke of another school shooting in Colorado, my feelings ranged from horror to sadness to resignation. Yet again, someone, in this case students, had entered a school with the intent to kill. The incident this time contained a certain poetic pathos in the school’s proximity to Columbine High School where the first mass school shooting occurred twenty years ago.

As with other seminal moments in time triggered by a recent event, the memories of Columbine came rushing back. I was in my third year serving as a school head in St. Louis, a city that was accustomed to violence, but not like this. At that moment, educators across the country understood that the world had entered a whole new era; however, I don’t think we ever imagined that school shootings would become as common as they are today. According to the Washington Post in April, there have been 230 school shootings since 1999, not including those on college and university campuses. 

Earlier this week I was actually thinking that we were going to make it through the spring with no shootings. Wouldn’t this be refreshing, I thought, only to catch myself and think that we had set a pretty low bar for ourselves. Is this the point that we had reached, where we could congratulate ourselves on no mass shootings of children? As I scolded myself for settling for something that should be considered normal, I heard the news, and thought, “never mind.” 

What does it say about us that we have failed in one of the most fundamental criteria by which to judge a society-that we keep our most vital and vulnerable asset, our children, safe? Perhaps we should take a moment, avoid the inevitable debates around guns or mental health care, and acknowledge that collectively we have dropped the ball.

As parents, we take a leap of faith every morning when we drop our children off that they will be safe physically and emotionally. We place our trust in other individuals to care for our children, and we hope and pray that they will be all right when we reconnect with them in the evening. It has been this way in America for more than a century, but something changed with Columbine. (If you have not read Dave Cullen’s book called “Columbine,” I highly recommend it.) Now, we are subject to a fear that is the most basic but also the most modern-that our children will face a danger our ancestors could never have imagined.

One of the most sobering facts to emerge following last spring’s shootings at Parkland and Santa Fe High School was the concern with which children now viewed attending school. According to a Pew Report last year, “Overall, 57% of teens say they are worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school, with one-in-four saying they are very worried.”  

In the early 1980’s, I lived in Israel for two and a half years as a student and as a volunteer. During this time, the war in Lebanon raged, and the Israeli government advised people to stay away from the northern border if they wished to remain safe. (The rest of the country was considered relatively trouble-free.) One weekend, before cell phones, my parents in the US panicked trying to reach me as I gallivanted around Jerusalem; unbeknownst to me, a series of bombs were exploding around the Old City and the media in the US had reported on them breathlessly. The fear and sense of helplessness in my parents’ voices when we connected was palpable. 

As parents, we all now live with that dread, but we repress it so we can go about our daily business and live our lives as best we can. So, what, if anything, can parents and educators do?

At Keystone, we created a Security Team this year that meets monthly and looks at our policies and procedures. We consult regularly with SAPD, and we perform drills. We adjust our practices as more information emerges on the best way to respond. Perhaps most importantly, we impress on our students to look out and care for one another. More often than not, shootings are carried out by someone who is in pain, and has typically let someone know that they are planning to do something. Educators have heard again and again from police and other experts that the most important and effective form of security is students reaching out to people who seem disaffected and alerting adults when they have concerns.   

As parents, we need to echo this advice. We should exhort our children to take care of each other, and extend an arm to those who are suffering. We need to encourage them to speak with an adult when they worry about a fellow student. They should take online threats seriously and report them. 

Unfortunately, this has become our new reality. Until things change, we will work, we will plan, and we will practice preparations we hope to never use, and we will make necessary changes so our children can be safe and secure in their places of learning. We owe them at least this much.



William B. Handmaker
Head of School
On Campus
15 Keystone poets win Young Pegasus
In the annual  Young Pegasus poetry competition, 15 of the 67 winning poets were Keystone students.

4th Grade Leadership announces book collection results
The numbers are in and Fourth Grade Leadership collected 675 books for San Antonio Youth Literacy. The eight students thank the Keystone community for contributing books to SAYL's Book Buddies program.

Seniors, freshmen celebrate during appreciation dinner
Welcoming the incoming class of freshmen -- the Class of 2023 -- and saying farewell to the graduating class of 2019, the Senior Appreciation Dinner offered a chance for students to look back at their experiences at Keystone, and visit with teachers they have known along the way. 

Fifth grader places second overall at regional meet

An update to an earlier news about fifth-grader Jasmine at a gymnastics competition in Kansas City, Missouri.

Two fifth-graders perform at Music Fest
Two Keystone fifth-graders performed last weekend at the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio's Music Fest 2019, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

Congratulations to KEYS, the middle school performance elective class, on a terrific show of original material.
Yearbook Distribution

Yearbooks that have been ordered and paid for in advance will be distributed on Monday, May 13.
Lower School:   Yearbooks will be passed out to lower school homeroom teachers who will send them home with students.
Middle School:  We will have a table set up during period 5 in the Dining Hall for middle school students to pick up their yearbooks.
Upper School:  We will have a table set up during period 6 in the Dining Hall for upper school students to pick up their yearbooks.
Questions about yearbooks can be directed to Maggie Arnold:  marnold@keystoneschool.org
Looking for something?
If you think you lost something at school, now is the time to come out and look for it.

Items that have been returned to Lost and Found will go out on tables in the Cafeteria the week of May 13-17, and then outside on May 23.

Anything still left will be donated.
Mr. Ciaravino starring in Classic Theatre production
One notable aspect about Keystone is how many of its teachers are still actively working as practitioners in various fields. One excellent example is Mr. Ciaravino, the Fine Arts Department chair and working actor.

A note from Mr. Handmaker
Every week, we try to highlight the accomplishments within the Keystone community in the weekly newsletter. Now I have the pleasure to announce that Edmund Tijerina, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications, has been elected as President of the Harvard Club of San Antonio .

He has served on the board of the Harvard Club for several years and most recently served as president-elect. He received his bachelor’s from Harvard College in 1987.
May 24 deadline for Creativity Camp and Writers' Workshop
The deadline to sign up for summer Creativity Camp and Writers' Workshop is approaching fast. Either camp is great to develop skills that complement classroom development. Or sign up for both!

Billy's Blog: From the Head of School
“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”
--Nicos Kazantzakis

Staff meetings aren’t usually where you would expect to find moments of ineffable magic, but during a recent Lower School faculty meeting, Ms. Vilagi led the kindergarten through fourth grade teachers in a fascinating activity that was a joy to experience, and provided another reason to appreciate what a special place we have in Keystone.

Meet the Faculty
Second Grade Teacher Laura Cook
Position:  2nd Grade Teache r

Education: BS Education/Minor in Reading, UT Austin

Why do you like working here: I love the kiddos and the people I get to work with everyday.

Important Events and Notes
Important Middle School Dates

End-of-Year Events
Eighth Grade:  Recognition Ceremony - Wednesday, May 15, 3 pm in the Theater. Download a flyer here.

Seventh Grade:  Live Out Loud Presentations - Thursday, May 16, 8:30 am in the Theater. Download a flyer here.

Fifth Grade: Heroes Museum- Friday, May 17, 8:30 - 9:15 am in the Quad. Download a flyer here.

Sixth Grade:  Fantasy Island Presentations – Friday, May 17, 10:00 am in the Theater. Download a flyer here.

Final Exams
Fifth and Sixth Grade
Monday, May 20: English
Tuesday, May 21: History/Geography and Math
Wednesday, May 22: Science
Seventh and Eighth Graders will also take their exams Monday, May 21 through Wednesday, May 22; a detailed schedule for exams days will be emailed in early May.

Last Day of School/Early Release: Wednesday, May 22
School is dismissed at 1 pm; we don't hold Aftercare.
Lower School Parents: Order your supplies now

Parents of rising K-4 students should place orders for next year's school supplies now. Download an order form here .
Cafeteria Services is now online!
Did you know you can view and pay your balance online?

Find out how to create your online account by clicking here . Then go to ezparentcenter.com . Once Cafeteria Services activates your account, you're all set.

If you have any problems, contact Mrs. Mlcak at kmlcak@keystoneschool.org  or 210-735-4022 x356 or Cafeteria Services at 210-348-7667.
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Alumni News
Nia Clements '18, presents TEDx talk
Nia Clements '18, delivered a talk at TrinityUniversity's TEDx symposium on her efforts to fight cancer, and how her cat began the process of inspiring her to focus her work.

We want to hear from you!
If you have news to share about the students, alumni, faculty or staff at Keystone School, please send it to: etijerina@keystoneschool.org .
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