Good routines keeping safety front and center throughout Chatham County school district

Moncure, NC – The last bell of the day rang at Moncure School.

It was the second day of the first week of school, and Panthers emerged from classrooms headed to the YMCA’s after-school program or lined up to catch school buses or moseyed out front to the carpool area. Understand that these kids had been away from school all summer and were just getting back into the routine of things. Yet dismissal was very orderly — laid back and loose after a hard day’s work in the classrooms, sure, but already extremely organized.

So when siblings Kamille Green and Derrick McLaughlin were summoned, there was no confusion as they eased over to Station 5, where teacher Holly Rapacuk was waiting to get the door when their ride pulled up.

That perhaps sounds like a small thing, but it hints at the sort of muscle memory Chatham County Schools Chief Operations Officer Chris Blice talks about, those good routines, practical habits, essentials for school safety. 

Jonathan Hayes is the music teacher at Moncure — blows a mean trombone, by the way. But before sounding his horn, before putting instruments in the hands of his students, there he was on the second day of school making sure they knew what to do should a safety concern arise. 

In other words, Hayes was building muscle memory. He was rehearsing practical habits, getting his students in good routines.

“School safety and security is a school’s No. 1 priority, and it’s never too early to discuss safety procedures with students,” Moncure Principal Justin Sudol explained. “Teachers have the unique ability to guide students through safety protocols with a calming reassurance. Whether remembering how to get packed up for the day and head to the carpool and buses, or reviewing procedures to make sure everyone remains safe, getting back into that as part of the first week of school is an essential part of ensuring a safe, successful school year.”