Lockdown Procedure is Now a Thing

The December 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NJ, provoked American citizens, legislators, and educators to re-examine their views on firearms and school security. But for the AHS student body, the event passed largely without comment from school officials. But three years ago when Spence Evans became the principal, he began the process of updating the lockdown and evacuation procedures of Ames High. “We were already in the process of change. This year, we’ve practiced the lockdown two times with staff. On the October 1 professional development day, we collaborated with the Ames Police department. They did training in the school to become familiar with what we have, and they’re putting us on the right path to being as prepared as we can be,” Evans said. “I feel very confident that our plan would work if were were to have a tragedy or an attempted tragedy at the school. We’re ready to go. But its a challenge to show that we’re ready to go, and not exactly what we’re going to do to protect students and how.” To ensure the safety of students and staff, details regarding the updated lockdown procedure cannot be published, but before the end of the school year, Ames High students will have an in-class lockdown drill. In addition, students may have noticed new posted signs warning of video surveillance and advising all visitors to check in at the main office. In addition to making sure that students and staff are protected from physical harm, it is the policy of ACSD to create and maintain a secure school environment. “I feel safe here, and I think that Ames High is probably one of the safest high schools in the country. But yes, [the Sandy Hook shooting] is going to be significant in ways that aren’t necessarily predictable yet,” sophomore Kenneth Prell said. “You can’t hide the stories in the webs of scar tissue.” The tragedy at Sandy Hook has shifted the focus of educators across the nation to being prepared to protect students, but in some cases it has also changed their attitudes. “ Hopefully, Sandy Hook will prove to be a wake-up call to communities all over the country that more precautions need to be implemented in the prevention of these tragedies,” social sciences teacher Chuck Stevens said. “Sandy Hook has made me pay attention to things a little closer in the classroom and in the hallways. It has also made me a bit more patient when a student may not be having a good day in school. If I notice that a student appears upset or angry, I have found myself taking more time to talk to them one on one, pulling them aside and just talking. If that means I have to take off my ‘teacher hat’ and just be a listener, so be it.”