The high school has implemented new security measures this school year to improve safety as a result of community feedback and recent mass shootings across the country.
Director of Facilities and Operations Harley Williams said that beginning this school year, students have been unable to use keypads to enter the building through entrances other than the main entrance. Additionally, more hidden alarms and camera systems have been set up to maintain secure entry into the building, he said.
“We have different ways that we can trigger alarms . . . to have early notification as quickly as possible,” he added.
Williams said the high school’s safety features have been evolving for many years. Adjustments were most strongly considered following catastrophes at other schools, such as mass school shootings in Parkland, Florida and Uvalde, Texas, he added.
Student and parent feedback also prompted these safety features, in addition to clearer communication about them to the community, Williams said. Families are more knowledgeable about the system through an online reference book, he added.
Principal Kristin Robbins said teachers play an important role in the new safety regulations.
“We have adults that are trained, that know how to contact people, how to notify police if something happens, how they should intervene,” she explained.
Robbins said since the school is used by many people, limiting entrances and having teachers supervise them in the morning and during lunch helps maintain students’ security.
“The adult at the door isn’t going to know every student that walks in, but if something would occur, they are positioned to intervene, as opposed to kids being put in that position,” Robbins said.
Students are regularly reminded not to prop open doors for their peers at the restricted entries in an effort to avoid potential threats, she added.
“We told kids we don’t want this to be punitive, but it is a measure of safety we put in place for all kids,” Robbins said. “We certainly don’t want to put all kids in jeopardy because a few are letting people in.”
Junior Reese McClellan said she is glad the high school is concerned about safety. However, she explained the new rules are not necessarily changing anything.
“I think if someone wanted to do harm to our school or students, they could walk through the main entrance after lunch with a backpack on and not be questioned,” McClellan said. “Before school and after lunch, the Lion Lobby and art wing doors can only be accessed with the keypad, which is a lot more secure than the free-for-all main entrance.”
High school math teacher Mark Hayman said he appreciates the increased safety measures.
“Hopefully something that has happened at other schools will never happen here, but for a small inconvenience I am willing to follow the recommendations that Dr. Williams posted,” Hayman explained.
These recent changes have sparked some negative reactions from students who prefer not to use the main entrance, but primarily positive ones, due to an increased sense of security, Robbins said.
“They may not like the adjustments we have made, but the fact that we are constantly thinking about it should give them a level of peace of mind,” she added.
The state of the school’s safety is always a priority, so new ideas are continually being considered, Williams said. He added that one of the potential future focuses is modifying fencing around the high school, mainly improving the gate locking system to restrict access from the outside.
“Schools are safe,” Williams said. “But we have to be vigilant and make sure that we do what we can to keep each other safe because it is not a perfect world out there.”