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Safety regulations called into question after Parkland shooting

Hannah Sween, Layout Editor

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Less than a week after a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. resulted in the deaths of 17 people, Stillwater Area High School held an emergency lockdown drill. During this lockdown, many students questioned just how prepared the school was for emergency situations such as a shooting threat. This year’s addition of Flex Time and the implementation of the EduPass system, as well as increased numbers of students in classes and the hallways has made it clear that SAHS is not prepared to handle emergency situations.

As part of the Stillwater Public School District’s Emergency plan, students and staff at all schools in the district must take part in five lockdown drills per year. One of the safety strategies employed during these lockdowns is known as A.L.I.C.E which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. Students are taught to sit as far away from any doors and windows as possible, but are not meant to be sitting ducks. If students have the opportunity to escape through a window or one of the exterior doors and it is deemed safe by the staff member they are with, they are encouraged to do so.

This plan, though most likely very effective for students in classrooms at the time of an attack, does not account for what students in the hallways should do. Flex time also presents a unique issue. When the EduPass app isn’t working, how are students accounted for? How can the school insure that all students are signing up for their FlexTime class everytime? How would these issues be dealt with in the event of an emergency situation? These are the questions that must be answered.

“There have been some really intentional efforts to make that system [EduPass] work a little better. There are still a few things to work out and work through, but I think it’s working a lot better,” Assistant Principal Shelly Phernetton said.

Flex time, new to the Stillwater district this year, is a time for students to meet with their peers, get school work done, make up test with teachers or participate in other Flex Time activities. The EduPass app, which students are supposed to use to sign up for their Flex time classes so that the teachers can then take attendance, has presented some problems. Many students don’t sign in through EduPass and some teachers hadn’t been taking attendance. Recently however, the administration has been cracking down on teachers about attendance during Flex Time in order to try and make sure all students are accounted for.

“We can make sure that our teachers take attendance. How realistic that is, I’m not sure. I would rather have a student evacuate and be unaccounted for, but safe than be here and accounted for and unsafe,” Phernetton said.

The new soft spaces in the hallways also present another issue. In the event of a school wide lockdown emergency, the safest option for a student in that situation is circumstantial. Students should practice what they might do if they happen to be in a soft space when a lockdown is called.

“At this age level, I think the more information that we give to you, the better prepared you are. Really think about it and practice what you might do because if you’re in an emergency situation you’re going to kind of fall back on intuition and if you practice things, that’s gonna really kick in,” Phernetton said.

 

At this age level, I think the more information that we give to you, the better prepared you are. Really think about it and practice what you might do because if you’re in an emergency situation you’re going to kind of fall back on intuition and if you practice things, that’s gonna really kick in.”

— Shelly Phernetton

One of the most important parts of being safe in an emergency situation is getting the information out to students and staff as quickly as possible. The more information that people have, the better prepared they can be and they can make better informed decisions on what to do in their situation.

“It makes me sad that we have to be prepared and that we have to even think about it, that our kids have to think about it and that we have to take measures to make sure that our students are safe,” guidance counselor Liz Nelson said.

Since the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, there has been an exponential increase in the number of mass shootings in the U.S. Until recently, the same cycle has repeated itself for each shooting that has occured. First the tragedy occurs, then thoughts and prayers are given, then there is a brief period of calling for governmental action, nothing happens and then activism slowly quiets down.

This time however is different. From school walkouts to marches, there has been an uprising of student led activism and an unrelenting push from students for action because students should not have to worry about their safety in schools. The SAHS walkout through #Enough by the Women’s March organization on March 14, is a way for students to express their frustration over lack of governmental action and to push for legislation. Hopefully, led by the rise of student activism, state and federal officials will finally make a concerted effort to pass legislation to keep schools safe from gun violence. 

“The most important thing to do is to feel empowered to make decisions. You’re old enough to be able to do that. So as adults I think it’s important for us to give you the information and empower you with the right to make your own decision,” Phernetton said.

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About the Writer
Hannah Sween, Editor in Chief
Hannah Sween is a senior and a Print Editor-in-Chief for the Stillwater Pony Express. When outside of school, she enjoys a variety of dance styles, but her favorite is Irish dancing.  Hannah has been competitively Irish dancing for an impressive 11 years!  In the high school, she participates in the tennis team, Amnesty, and NHS....
3 Comments

3 Responses to “Safety regulations called into question after Parkland shooting”

  1. Hailey Willius on April 22nd, 2018 8:24 pm

    The writer’s opinion statement was well defined and gave a great insight into the article. Each fact paragraph was well thought out and paired nicely with quotes from concert sources. The Alt was a fun way to display content even though it is a bit difficult to read. Overall great article and Alt.

  2. Lilly Sample on April 22nd, 2018 8:53 pm

    The quotes used in this story are very informative and show that there was thought put into who was interviewed and the questions asked. The lockdown was a hot topic at the high school for a while, and this story does a good job of really pointing out the danger and seriousness of the event. Great points and a great story!

  3. Rosalie Braun on April 22nd, 2018 10:24 pm

    I appreciate the facts you gathered for this story and the background information you provided for readers that don’t go to Stillwater. I would’ve loved to see a quote or two from a student, though. Awesome job Hannah!

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