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Safe Schools – What’s Next for PL?

Amanda Swanson and Grace Cline

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What happened at in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 shook the whole world. A former student pulled the fire alarm, sending students outside. As the mob of people crowded to get out of the school, he took his chance and pulled out a gun. The seventeen students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that were lost in this tragedy will forever be remembered.

 

Many schools, along with Prior Lake High School, are taking action to address a safer and more comfortable environment for students and staff. This upcoming school year as part of the remodeling and expansion of PLHS, the teacher parking lot will be reconfigured and students will be able to park their cars in the expansion. In the future, all visitors will need to go through the main office in order to enter the school, and they will need to be buzzed in by the staff at the main desk.

 

In an interview with Dr. Bezek, principal of PLHS, about school safety and the plans for upcoming changes, he reiterated the message to students that “If you see something, say something, even if it’s not 100 percent accurate.”  Students are always in the know about things that seem odd, so it’s important to let someone know if there are concerns.

 

In the interview, Dr. Bezek also talked about a new protocol for lockdowns called A.L.I.C.E.  This procedure has become popular in schools and stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. A shorter and easier saying to remember is “run, hide, and fight.”  Teachers will be trained on the protocol, and hopefully it will help better clarify what needs to take place in the building should an emergency occur.

 

A question also in the news lately was if teachers should be armed in the classrooms. Dr. Bezek feels that “there are better options than jumping right to this. Having weapons in classrooms requires a ton of training and many teachers may simply just not agree with it.”  He thinks there are other things that we can do such as the new entrances and the new A.L.I.C.E. training that will improve safety without having to resort to arming teachers.

 

In fact, many students do not agree with arming teachers either.  In a show of unity and protest against recent school gun violence, Prior Lake High School students of all ages walked out of class on Friday, April 20th at 10 a.m.  Students gathered in the staff parking lot to hear speeches given my Nana Sam-Brew (9), Abby Grund (10), Kristina Beer (11), Maddie Mackin (12), and Grace Cline (12) who all spoke in favor of safer schools and gun control.  Nearly 200 students attended the walkout and believe that any measures that can be taken to improve the safety of schools should be looked at.

 

Whatever decisions are made at the district level, school safety is a top priority.  For now, Dr. Bezek also stated, “We’ve had Officer Kanz watching over the high school for years. He’s a great contribution to this school. But looking into adding another officer isn’t a bad idea.”  

 

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