ST. LOUIS - The school year wraps up for many districts in May. Research shows this month ranks fourth for school shootings. Some St. Louis area schools have taken unusual steps to keep active killers at bay.
Students at Hancock Place Middle School demonstrated how they'll react if there's an active killer in their school. The secured the classroom door in at least three different ways. Haider Waheed, a 6th-grade student said, “If anything dangerous happens I know what to do. School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Carl added, “We actually simulate gunshots in the classroom.” He said the district is one of the first in the area to prepare both educators and students ages pre-k through 12th, “We would be remiss if we didn`t include students,” said Carl.
Brian Schellman is a police officer and instructor at Tier One Tactical Solutions. The company educates teachers and students concerning active shooter safety. Schellman said, “We make each program different it`s all age appropriate.” Dr. Carl added, “Not one person in our community had a complaint.”
Students were also taught how to barricade the door and help a victim by using first aid. Ajsela Skeledgic said, “We`re prepared we know what to do.”
Districts across were also preparing school campuses. At Lindbergh High School kids now go outside to other buildings for classes making the campus an easy target for active shooters. School Principal Eric Cochran said, “All the research shows that students can`t learn unless they feel safe.”
Voters recently approved a proposal to connect all the buildings, “Have a single point of entry which is the gold standards when it comes to school safety,” said Cochran. It will take a few years to complete, until then temporary fencing has been installed.
At Parkway schools a security team works round the clock, “When a tip comes in at midnight one or two in the morning they`re there they act on it,” said Parkway District Spokesman Paul Tandy.
The district is adding vestibules to school buildings. Visitors have to be buzzed into schools.
Once inside they hand over their driver’s license which is put in a computer and checked to see if the person is a sex offender and they`ve found some.
In the classrooms, window covers were in place and doors locked from the inside.
Building windows were coated with a plastic that prevents a gunman from firing one shot and quickly entering. Greg Cicotte is an elementary school principal. He said, “Every second is crucial if we can slow a perpetrator down by just a few seconds there`s research showing that can save lives.”
While many districts are adding vestibules to schools, they are not foolproof, as was experienced at a Francis Howell school. A car plowed right through the vestibule. School districts may want to go a step farther and add bollards that you see at stores and businesses.
One of the best tools in fighting violence is awareness, everyone in the school paying attention to each other and speaking out if something seems off.