School is intended to be a place where one can express their ideas, share their opinions, and discover their passions. It is a safe space.
However, on a day supposedly dedicated to love, 17 Floridian families had one less person to spend Valentine’s Day with. After the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School no longer think of their school as a safe space.
During an event such as that in Parkland, the school’s administration is the first line of defense. It is their job to alert the rest of the school to an intruder, armed or otherwise, on campus.
Only then can the rest of the school go into lockdown in order to minimize casualties.
On March 14, Carlmont’s administration recognized their duty to the rest of the school and decided to practice a lockdown-barricade drill within the administration office.
The idea of practicing the drill was brought up by the safety team, which consists of Eric Gonzales, Carlmont’s Student Resource Officer, Health Aide Samantha Gingher, and Vice Principal Gregg Patner.
After introducing the idea, the administration brainstormed scenarios in which the drill would be put to use.
“One, we talked about if the immediate threat was here in the office and what we would need to do to stay safe,” said Principal Ralph Crame. “Two, it’s important that if the immediate threat is on campus that we have a plan in action here so we can communicate appropriately. That way, we make sure that we can keep the campus as safe as possible once the staff is safe and we have all our communications and logistics in place.”
This drill specifically differs from a normal lockdown-barricade drill, as it does not include the rest of the campus.
“When [all-campus] drills are going on we are focused on what everybody else is doing. So this was an opportunity to focus on if there was an immediate threat [in the office], what we would do first, and then how we would go out and help the rest of the campus,” Crame said.
Rather than just talking about what they would do in the event of an emergency, the office staff barricaded their doors, physically moved their furniture, and discussed the reasoning behind each relocation, according to Secretary Terri Plack.
Due to the fact that an emergency is usually met with chaos, drills are beneficial because they set aside time to think, plan, and act on that plan according to Patner. However, even practice cannot decrease the pressure of keeping students safe.
“To be an administrator you always have that anxiety of keeping kids safe and it’s not necessarily about keeping kids safe from a violent intruder, it’s about keeping kids safe from an earthquake, from health issues, from bullying, and all of those things circulate in our minds all the time,” Patner said.
Carlmont’s dedication to maintaining a safe space will continue to be shown through its preparation for an ever-looming threat that may or may not ever come.
“We are always looking for ways to be proactive, and every time we do a drill we get together to discuss what works and what doesn’t work so we are always working on new strategies,” Secretary Anne Eggli said.
The administration is preparing for any kind of incident to the best of their ability, and this drill was yet another step towards the safety of all Carlmont students and staff. However, in regards to whether or not their drill will be effective, Plack said, “I hope we never have to find out.”