Ross informs community of increased security, student resources after security threat


Head of Upper Schol Laura ross talks to community after security threat leads to school closure. Sophie Haber/Chronicle

Sophie Haber

In light of a threatening social media post that caused school to close Friday, Head of Upper School Laura Ross addressed students and faculty about increased security on campus, resources for students seeking support and ways for students to take action against gun violence.

Although Ross said she could not disclose all of the added security measures, she pointed out an uptick in the number of security guards on campus. The school is also working closely with the Los Angeles Police Department, Ross said.

President Rick Commons sent an email to the community Sunday evening to address the new security measures.

Increased security measures will be in place at Harvard-Westlake for the foreseeable future, which will be reassuring for all of us as we return to our normal routines,” Commons said in the email.

Counselors and administrators at the school, as well as students in Teen Line and Peer Support, are available for students who felt emotional following Friday’s events and other incidents involving gun violence, Ross said.

“The only way we know what each of us is carrying is to first make the choice to care about each other and to then make the choice to make the space to listen to each other,” Ross said.

Director of Student Affairs Jordan Church is also working with students to join the national student movement against gun violence, Ross said.

Students will host a bake sale for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Tuesday. Proceeds will be donated to the victims and their families to help with medical and funeral expenses.

“We are so lucky that what we experienced on Friday, though frightening and unsettling, was nothing like the trauma and the grief that that community faced and others around the country are experiencing,” Ross said.

Ross encouraged students to be conscious of the choices that they make on social media and emphasized that the consequences that words can have, such as those in the Instagram post that caused school to close Friday.

“It’s amazing what one word, action, thought or deed can do in a community,” Ross said. “I hope your time here is helping you to grow in your capacity for empathy, kindness and compassion. Without those qualities, communities fall apart.”