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First Unplanned Lockdown Occurs

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During what seemed like just another ordinary lunch period, suddenly hundreds of students and staff bolted towards the front doors, urged on by the monotone voice repeating “Lockdown, lockdown…”
  “Once we realized what was going on, we kind of went into shock mode,” said history teacher Anita Coffman. “As teachers, we were trying to figure out if it was real or if it was a drill. I went into a bit of panic because I realized that this wasn’t something that was planned and thinking that it could potentially be something dangerous.”

  Students and faculty had their first unplanned lockdown during lunch, resulting in hundreds of students leaving the school, while others hid in hallways and classrooms.

  “There was a lot of confusion, no one really knew where to go or what to think,” said sophomore Brooke Lady, who left the building after the alarm was pulled. “I remember my friends texting me asking what was going on and asking if I was okay. I was outside so I decided to livestream [on Instagram] for the kids inside and I remember people leaving campus and talking about how they saw a guy with a vest go into the school.”

  According to principal Charlie Hollerith, the alarm was activated in C200, where a few students engaged in a scuffle, getting one of the students’ backpacks stuck in the system.

  “Two students were horseplaying with each other and one of the student’s backpacks came into contact with the Blue Point system and got his backpack caught in it which activated the alarm system,” Hollerith said. “We’re looking at putting on covers on some of the Blue Point pull stations, very much like if you see over the fire alarms, called screechers. They’ll sound an alarm once they’re pulled down. It will help [the alarm] from being accidentally activated.”

  The Blue Point system is an alarm system meant to notify the students, faculty and police when a lockdown is put in place.

  “What the [Blue Point] system does, especially during instruction time, is that it seals off areas of the building,” said Officer Dave Vankerckhove. “It shuts and locks the fire doors in the learning communities and seals the G wing and serveries off with a gate that comes down from the ceiling. The purpose is to seal off where a potential threat is located and protect the rest of the students.”

  In order to recognize what needed to be fixed, the administration held a debriefing with the entire faculty to receive feedback regarding how the lockdown procedure could be improved.

  “I think that there are things that we think about as teachers that we want to have planned. We’re always planned since that’s what we do for our profession,” said Coffman. “It was nice to actually hear from other teachers, administrators and the police that there isn’t always a set answer to what we need to do and that that’s okay and sometimes we need to use our instincts.”

  Hollerith said that the lockdown offered his administration the opportunity to reflect on the lockdown and decide upon adjustments that need to be made.

  “The lockdown voice that comes over wasn’t loud enough; both students and staff said that they didn’t hear it in some areas. We are going to make sure that we turn the volume up,” said Hollerith. “We may change the message on the system so that people can understand what’s going on. In some pockets of the building, there were places where there weren’t speakers or strobes. We have identified parts of the building and we’re going to put those additional devices to help the staff.”

  Hollerith describes the lockdown as “a good wake up call for all of us.”

  “It’s important to prepare and should those situations happen where we have an intruder or a student with a weapon, we want to make sure that we minimize any potential harm to ensure the safety of all students and staff. Safety and security is our number one priority.”

6 Comments

6 Responses to “First Unplanned Lockdown Occurs”

  1. Kaitlyn Luckoff on February 15th, 2018 7:36 am

    I left school that day but I didn’t know that the alarm being pulled was an accident. Very interesting story!

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  2. Evan Stern on February 15th, 2018 7:39 am

    I was in school while this occurred and was definitely a little scary. However, in this time, in it very important to understand what to do in this instance and bring attention to it.

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  3. Caelan Jansen on February 15th, 2018 7:51 am

    I experienced this but never knew what happened. This story gave me a lot of insight onto what took place and how our school is learning from it. After this happened, I definitely thought that we needed to learn from the mistakes made and I’m glad the administration is doing so! Great story!

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  4. Hanna Halstead on February 15th, 2018 8:13 am

    During this lockdown, I saw students running outside the building, because everyone was confused as to what was going on.

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  5. Lilly Swanson on February 16th, 2018 7:35 am

    I walked in probably 5 minutes before the alarm went off. It was so scary but you did a great job of capturing all the emotions that day!

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  6. Andres Quiroga-Elizondo on February 16th, 2018 7:42 am

    I really enjoyed this story! You did a great job keeping the reader interested and explaining what people most likely wanted to know after the false alarm lock down. As a person who witnessed the lock down first hand, I can say this article really helped me understand why everything went down the way it did. I’m glad actions are being taken to prevent this in the future!

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