By Makayla Garcia:
I interviewed students and teachers about their feelings and opinions on school safety and how it can be improved to make students feel safer at school.
Students were asked, “Do tragedies such as shootings cross your mind before they’ve been mentioned on the news?” Two students answered “yes,” and one answered “no.” Senior Jacob Tallamy said, “I think about them pretty often. Sometimes I’ll find myself in an unsecure classroom and think, “What will I do if there’s an intruder right now?'”
Two students mentioned they felt unsafe in the media center because of all the glass, and two students said they would fee more secure in school if there were better entrances/exits.
A student who wished to stay anonymous said they encountered a door that was unlocked on a weekend which allowed them to enter the school.
When the students were asked to compare their preparation for a fire drill and intruder, all the students said they felt more prepared for a fire than an intruder. Freshman Emma Johnson said, “It would be hard to prepare more than they already have without more resources.”
A student anonymously said they “wished the main offices were developed more like the old middle school’s main entrance.”
Students appeared to be concerned about the commons and the media center because of how open they were. A student said, “I love how open and welcoming the commons area and media center are, but in today’s world it’s too dangerous to be so open when students’ lives depend on it.”
A student said, “We’re prepared for what to do when it happens, but not so much when preventing it.”
For my final question, I asked students if they felt safe at school. One student answered with a firm “no,” while two other students were unsure when answering and said, “sure” and “sometimes.”
It was mentioned that in certain classrooms some students may be at a higher risk of being left behind. It was also mentioned that students may not feel safe in school because of discrimination and bullying rather than the threat of an intruder. However, a lot of students are concerned with the idea of someone intruding.
Teachers and staff go through an active shooter training every year and are provided with a “Crisis Notebook” which includes all information necessary in the event of a crisis.
During the interviews, teachers were asked what improvements they thought the school could make. In response to the question, Mrs. Bennett said the safety committee was trying to obtain a motorized vehicle, such as a golf cart, that would be used to help evacuated students or staff that have a condition that would slow them down. She also said they were trying to find an efficient way to quickly secure all classroom doors. Mrs. McClung included that were very lucky to have the school officer on campus to help prevent unwanted incidents.
The teachers I interviewed said they felt prepared, but a teacher also mentioned that training for any crisis from experts that would be extremely beneficial.
All teachers said they thought at least some students felt safe in their environments. One teacher even said that some students may feel safer at school rather than at home.
Two teachers said shootings did cross their mind, but another said they did not. However, they all said they felt safe at NCHS.
During my interviews, it was evident that this is a safer school than most. One teacher believed we had a very great work/learning community, which is a major contribution in keeping the students and staff safe.