The recent rise in school shootings has had a fall out in many dimensions. Homeschooling has taken a sharp rise. Even churches are initiating or upgrading their security measures. In Lycoming County, there is a strong network that is manning the front lines against such troubles in our schools.
Last week we featured Brian Pick, who works for the Juvenile Probation Department for Lycoming County. One of the schools that he works with is the East Lycoming High School in Hughesville, with Ronald Lorson in the position of principal. Mr. Lorson grew up in Montoursville and upon graduation went to Bucknell University to study administration. He was hired in 1984 by the East Lycoming School District and has been there ever since. Lorson’s experience spans the time when the biggest concerns were fire and safety drills, and now it is strategies on survival.
This is why relationships with support agencies are so critical, and why it is necessary that the people in these agencies develop a good relationship of trust. Principal Ron Lorson of East Lycoming High School and Brian Pick of the Lycoming County Juvenile Probation Office are almost a textbook example of how this relationship should work. For almost two decades now, these two men have met weekly; talking, sharing ideas, always focusing on what would be best for a particular student in question. Both men think very much alike on issues, built on so many years of mutual trust.
It seems that since the invention of high schools, there have been problems with alcohol, drugs, and delinquencies. But Principal Lorson observes that today it is exposure to social media that makes such a big difference. The average teenager seems to be in constant communication and too often will respond emotionally. If they have not developed the patterns of self-control, located in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, then the emotional part of the brain, the limbic system, takes over. It can sometimes just result in careless language, but sometimes it results in something more serious, which then brings the justice system to be involved.
And this is why it is important to have the school to be in the loop because school principals like Ronald Lorson are very involved in the lives of the students. (Note: in preparation for this article, I researched a regional paper which featured five different pictures of students from East Lycoming, and Principal Lorson was in every one of them!) He knows that every student and every parent present a different set of circumstances to work with — one size definitely does not fit all. It is this mutual feedback between the school and the JPO that has resulted in so many success stories.
In one case, Principal Lorson remarked about a particular student who was charged with an offense that required a probationary period of six months to one year. The student actually found that the mentoring he was receiving from Brian Pick and the other school officials was exactly what he needed. He made a complete turn-around and has not been in any trouble since.
Principal Lorson emphasized the importance of this connection to kids. If they can connect to positive role models in their lives, be it, parents, family, teachers, coaches, or responsible peers, it makes a huge difference in the direction of their lives. We know all too well what happens when the opposite occurs. Brian Pick and Ronald Lorson serve as good examples to all of us who interact with kids in some way. Showing a genuine interest in them, especially those who feel disenfranchised and isolated, and living before them in a morally and socially responsible way, may be exactly what keeps some horrible event from occurring in the future. We all can serve as a first-line of vigilance in our very troubled world.