IHS Lockdown: A Reflection on School Safety

Sophie Kirkegaard, Editor in Chief

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School that shook the nation just five years ago, there have been 239 school shootings in the U.S. To many students today, the chance of experiencing this seems to becoming more probable, but wrapping one’s mind around something so horrific shouldn’t be the new norm. As students, we shouldn’t be expected to deal with the fear many of us have towards simply attending school, and having to hold the very real possibility of experiencing a mass shooting in the back of our minds is not a burden anyone should carry.

We have all been through lockdown drills and received various amounts of information on how to deal with situations in which there is a potential threat on campus. And on the morning of Wednesday. Dec. 12, our school’s safety protocol was put to the test. At approximately 9:50 AM, the school was put into lockdown after a report of a gun on campus, starting an hour of chaos and confusion for both staff and students. In a letter to students and their families, Principal Andrea McCormick details the situation as occurring when “someone reported that two students were in a bathroom talking about a gun, sounds of a gun were made (clips, metal, etc.) and a threat was made. The witness in the bathroom immediately reported this to administration, 911 was called and the school was ordered into lockdown.”  Because school had not yet started, the majority of students were still on their way to or arriving at school at the time, creating difficulty for students to find a safe and secure place during the event.

Some were already in classrooms, like senior Priscilla Tran, who was forced to lockdown in a room without a teacher, causing her to be unaware of what exactly was happening, and highlighting the possible need for improved communication in situations like these. According to Tran, “We were given no information about what was going on and how severe the situation was so we were expected to piece together rumors for information. Better communication or a mass text would definitely help a lot of the stress and anxiety.” Freshman Evan Roorda found himself in the middle of the threat, being in the boys’ locker room at the time: “I didn’t think much of it at first because we were in the very back room of the boys’ locker room.We just waited there for a good 10 minutes, then we heard a door open and heard many footsteps slowly running in They yelled ‘police’ and came into the room we were in and told us to put our hands up and they had their guns up. They asked for [a student] who a couple seconds after, stood up and was cuffed right outside the door. The officer found a pocket knife in the seat where the [student] was sitting and asked us if we knew anything about what [the student] was doing or if we were involved. We then had to walk to the office with our hands up and waited there until we were told we could resume and go to second period.”

As students, we also have the responsibility of using our own best judgement in instances such as these. Being aware of our school’s environment, as well as creating a safe and inclusive atmosphere is something that is imperative to preventing further situations like these. At the end of the day, no student, teacher, administrator, or school can be completely prepared to handle something like this. When faced with possibly dangerous circumstances, our school’s main priority is to keep students safe, and despite the few difficulties faced in regards to communication, administration did just that. Going forward, the events that occurred this past Wednesday serve as a learning experience for the entire school, improving our safety and preparedness in the future.