North Salem school officials and local politicians respond to the massacre in Uvalde, Texas


One day after a teenager opened fire on elementary school students in rural Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers, North Salem school leaders and politicians who serve Northern Westchester residents sought to comfort and reassure community members. Here’s what they had to say.

North Salem Central School District superintendent Dr. Ken Freeston:

Freeston emailed families just before 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. In his note, he referenced the Sandy Hook shooting that took place in nearby Newtown, Connecticut ten years ago and told families, “school shootings and shootings in general have become all too common, and with each incident we feel an increased sense of anger, disbelief, and grief.”

Freeston outlined the steps the district was taking to protect students and staff, including:

  • Increased police presence through high visibility patrols across the district from both North Salem and Westchester County Police Departments
  • School counselors and psychologists available to meet with any students who may need their additional support
  • Resources for talking to kids at home about violence (this from Nat’l Assoc. Of School Psychologists and this from Sesame Street)

North Salem Middle School / High School Principal Vince DiGrandi:
DiGrandi followed Freeston’s note with an email to MSHS families saying, “we made a very concerted effort to be visible in hallways and classrooms today and reassure students if they had concerns.” DiGrandi said that he had “provided the staff with several talking points,” and reminded them to “remain factual and not speculate nor provide opinion when discussing topics such as this.”

Pequenakonck Elementary School Principal Mary Johnson:

Johnson wrote to PQ families, “what we have found over the years is that elementary students rarely know about such big events and it usually does not come up.” She noted that staff was “prepared to listen for students who might be upset or want to talk about what they think they know.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul:

Hochul tweeted Wednesday morning, “Right now, in the state of New York, an 18-year-old can buy an AR-15 without a license.

That's wrong and I’m going to work with the legislature to change that.”


New York State Senator Pete Harckham (D):
Sen. Harckham represents New York’s 40th Senate District, which includes North Salem, Southeast, Brewster, Carmel, and Somers, among other Hudson Valley municipalities.

In response to Hochul’s tweet, Sen. Harckham said, “I agree completely with Governor Hochul. There is a big difference between an eighteen year-old buying a rifle or shotgun for hunting versus being allowed to purchase a weapon designed to kill people. This will compliment the common sense gun safety measures we have passed in the past four years since I have been in office.”

New York State Senate candidate Gina Arena (R):
Gina Arena is running for New York State Senate in New York’s 40th Senate District, which includes North Salem, Southeast, Brewster, Carmel, Somers and Lewisboro, among other Hudson Valley municipalities.

Arena told the North Salem Post, “my very first thought yesterday was, why do we have to have that weapon? Personally, I’m not a fan of an automatic rifle. But, we have to be able to hear all sides. It’s about hearing why people might have a need to have that gun. Because they have a right to bear arms.”

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