School administrators, school security personnel, others encouraged to attend Oct. 18 events

A survivor of the tragic 2007 school shootings at Virginia Tech, Kristina Anderson, will share her personal story, as well as her perspective on best practices and lessons learned, during a pair of National Safe Schools Week forums hosted by the New Jersey Department of Education.

The department’s Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning is holding the events, the first of which takes place at Matawan-Aberdeen Regional High School at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 18. The daytime session, which runs until 1 p.m., also features grief and healing expert Lisa Athan, the founder and executive director of New Jersey-based Grief Speaks.

The second session, to take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Burlington High School Performing Art Center, will feature Anderson. Both sessions are open to school administrators, school security officers, other school personnel and first responders, while the evening session is also open to parents and college students. Due to the nature and content of the presentation, parental discretion is advised for younger audience members.

Anderson was one of the most critically-injured students in the Virginia Tech tragedy, in which 32 people were killed and 17 injured by shots fired by a Virginia Tech student, who then committed suicide. A nationally-recognized presenter, Anderson will share her own story, along with her thoughts on preparedness and prevention, and lessons learned as a survivor of an active shooter incident.

Athan, the founder and executive director of Grief Speaks, will present on healthy coping and healing strategies after tragedy, delivering a message of hope, healing and thriving through loss, transition and adversity.

There is no charge to attend either session, but registration is required. The morning session registration, at Matawan-Aberdeen High School, is available here.

For the evening session, at Burlington High School, register here

For further information, please contact Thomas Gambino, Ed.D at (609) 422-7153, Lisa Angelini at (609) 588-2323, or send an email to