Bring the Lessons of 1937 to Your School

Activities and Strategies v 2016

[  ] Proclaim March 18 as Heroes Day. 

Read about Heroes. Learn about inspirational leaders and partnerships that work to make schools the safe and healthy place that all students deserve. Celebrate the heroes in your school. 
[  ] Feed Your Heroic Imagination

[  ]  Click here to find 9-year-old fifth grader Carolyn Jones' speech to the Texas Legislature.  Read it out loud in your classroom or at a school event.
 ...let us suggest the legislature of Texas set aside a special day each year to be observed as a memorial day on which tribute will be paid to the children and teachers who died in this catastrophe...and to make laws of safety... Our daddies and mothers, as well as the teachers, want to know that when we leave our homes in the morning to go to school, that we will come out safe when our lessons are over.  
[  ]  Adopt a "Safety Bill of Rights" for your school.  
  • Parents, educators, and health professionals owe it to children to teach safety and teach safely.
  • Every child has a right to an environmentally safe and healthy home and school.
  • Schools should be role models for environmental safety and environmentally responsible behavior.
  • Everyone has a right to know about unsafe and unhealthy school conditions and to be involved in efforts to create and maintain safe conditions.
[  ] Work with parents, students and staff to make chemical safety part of your school's ongoing security audits and safety plan. See Be Proud to be Proactive  and You can prevent explosions in your school.
[  ] Break the Silence. Tell their story.
Design an annual exhibit, essay contest, or classroom program about the 1937 New London School Explosion.
Today, no one can fix the broken hearts of New London, Texas but the survivors all take some measure of healing and consolation not only in sharing their stories but also in knowing that their stories teach the importance of taking precautions to prevent a similar tragedy from shattering other school communities.  Go to the New London School Explosion website to read the stories of the survivors, witnesses and family members of the victims.
Read stories at this link: Recollections.  One of the eye witnesses to the disaster was a young reporter named Walter Cronkite. He said, "I did nothing in my studies nor in my life to prepare me for a story  of the magnitude of that New London tragedy, nor has any story since that awful day equaled it."
[  ] Tell your story.  Encourage parents and others in every school community to break the silence about school hazards and to dispel the myths that excuse inaction.  What opportunities for leadership exist in your school?

[  ] Chemical Labs. Do a chemical safety audit. If your school has stockpiles of explosives and other hazardous materials, your school is not safe. Everyone is at risk for preventable death and injury -- not only those in the school at the time of an explosion, fire or chemical spill, but first responders such as fire department crews and volunteer rescuers as well.

[  ] Science and technology. Teach safety tips for using gas or about the technology of heating and ventilating systems for school buildings. Classroom groups can use school health and safety checklists to find ways to make their school and homes safer.

[  ] Environmental education, public service, and environmental leadership programs. Organize projects to reduce hazards in the school and in the community.
Put chemical safety education on the agenda of your PTA, teacher's association, school council, school board, health department, and other community forums. 
Safe Schools. Pipeline Preparedness.  Approximately one in every 20 schools is located within a half-mile of a transmission pipeline or above ground pipeline facility. The Pipeline Association for Public Awareness helps schools improve safety planning and readiness by sponsoring the School Pipeline Safety Partnership. 
Learn more:
[  ] History. Discuss the power of individual choices to influence events. 
To save money the New London TX school board substituted a gas system for the steam system. They had ignored the architects' warnings that the building had not been designed to vent gas fumes. Then, the school board decided to hook-up to a free residue gas line while school and oil company officials agreed to look the other way.
How can seemingly innocent acts have enormous consequences?  (Facing History and Ourselves.)

[  ] Language arts or theater classes. Create a "reader's theater" based on the memories and news stories on the New London School Explosion website. Discuss your reaction to the stories. 

[  ] School Improvement Committee. Advocate for environmental awareness and safety in all administrative and educational programs and activities. Organize teams to do a walk-thru using the
Indoor Air Quality Checklists.

[  ] Art. Learn about hazards in common art materials and school supplies. Promote safe materials and practices in your school. The ABCs of a Healthier School.

[  ] Reach out to others. Take advantage of other safety events to promote health and safety and to educate school community members about chemical safety. Join annual events such as Poison Prevention Week, Inhalant Hazards Awareness Week, and National Healthy Schools Day.

Do you have other ideas? Do you have a slogan or idea for a poster? Send it to me at