Safety in schools is an important topic currently being discussed all over the country, and it is also something that is being taken seriously at Old Rochester Regional High School.
Last week, the entire high school staff was called down for a pair of meetings that highlighted the current state of security at ORR and steps that can and will be taken to improve it.
There were a few immediate changes that could be seen throughout the final days of the week.
“We’re asking classrooms to remain in the locked position (with doors locked from the hallways) to better facilitate a lockdown, should the situation arise,” Principal Mike Devoll said. “Students also need to be held to a greater accountability of where they are in the building, as they always should be.”
School Librarian Allison Barker gave an example of how the tighter procedures work.
“Students are supposed to have passes for coming to the library during their study or just for printing,” said Barker. “They also sign-in on library computers when they stay for study so we have a list of who is in the library.”
A couple of students who were encountered walking the halls at that time, like senior Alice Bednarczyk – students of the post-Columbine era – are a bit more skeptical towards some of the implementations.
“I think personally, we as students shouldn’t have to be worried about our own safety when trying to receive our education, so now it feels like we’re all going to be shut up because it’s become such a consuming thing,” Bednarczyk said. “With the locked doors on classrooms, I now have to knock to get back into the classroom so I have to both ask to leave and come back in.”
“And if something happens when you are in the bathroom or in the halls during passing times, then you can’t get to safety in any classroom if they are locked,” senior Noah Paknis added.
Of course, these aren’t the only security features that ORRHS is putting into place to increase the overall safety and security of students at school.
“We had a meeting Friday morning with the police chiefs from all three towns about an active student shooter situation,” Devoll said on the strengthening safety procedures. “We’ve developed a schedule for ALICE training. We’ve re-evaluated our full-site evacuation policy – how to bus students off campus, how to reunite with families.”
Devoll stressed, “We will not be arming our teachers.”
“We have an armed school resource officer in the building,” said Devoll. “We also are looking to have a consistent barricade method (since doors open both ways), and the glass school vestibule (front doors) is being redone with bulletproof glass this summer.”
At least one student, the freshman class president Lucy Zhang, said she is still more concerned with her grades than her safety at ORR.
“Our school runs multiple drills such as the ALICE drills. Now teachers are required to lock doors, students can only be in hallways with passes, and I’m pretty sure we have cameras at every entrance,” says Zhang. “I don’t know if all the school’s safety measures will guarantee no deaths if the unfortunate event of a school shooting occurs, but it will definitely prevent the loss of more lives.”
By Jo Caynon