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Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

School officials learn what to do in shooting


By Amy Kronenberger
CELINA - The old belief of duck and cover during a shooting could turn students into sitting ducks.
Students faced with an active shooter in their school should run, try to escape or defend themselves, school board members were told during a board meeting Monday.
Assistant superintendent Kevin Mast and Celina assistant police chief Calvin Freeman presented what they learned at a recent three-day training program called ALICE - Alert, Lockdown, Information, Counter and Escape.
Mast said the idea of duck and cover was created in the 1950s to protect students from an atomic bomb detonation. By 2012, the procedure had evolved into the drill Celina students still practice - close the blinds and doors, turn off the lights, lock the door if possible and go to the wall farthest from the door and windows.
In the incident with Columbine and other school shootings, "duck and cover is what cost the students their lives," Mast said.
Mast and Freeman played a video re-enactment of the Columbine shootings, which showed students hiding under their desks being shot at point-blank range.
"It's just a re-enactment, but it's very accurate of what happened," Mast said.
Mast and Freeman then had school board members and others in attendance participate in a drill pretending that a school shooter was in the building.
The participants closed the blinds and huddled in the corner of the room. Mast and Freeman, dressed in hoodies, masks and sunglasses, easily opened the door, which doesn't have a lock, and began throwing tennis balls at each person, declaring him or her dead.
Afterwards, the participants shared their feelings of helplessness in the situation.
"If the shooter comes through the door, we're all dead because we're all just huddled in the corner," board member Ken Fetters said.
"And no door is going to stop them," Freeman added.
During the shootings at Virginia Tech, one shooter killed 33 people and most of the victims were men, Freeman said. Why didn't they fight back and try to stop him? Because they've been trained since they were kids to hide.
"We have to take every precaution to keep our students safe," Mast said. "We need more options that work in 'real' situations."
If a shooter is known to be in one part of the school, the students in all other parts should be evacuated quickly. Students in the same area as the shooter should use desks, shelves or anything they can to barricade the door to their classroom and try, if possible, to get out a window.
If a shooter gains entry to the classroom, students and teachers should use books, computers, chairs, trophies, anything they can lift, and throw it at the shooter.
"If something is being thrown at you, it's an instinct to put your hands up to block it, preventing the shooter from firing," Freeman said.
Students also should keep moving, run around the classroom and continue to try to get out, Freeman said. Accurate shooting takes a lot of skill. Police, who are trained shooters, miss 70-80 percent of all moving targets.
"We need to create that moving target and get out," he said. "We're not telling anyone to fight back, but let's not allow us to be sitting ducks."
Mast and Freeman said they will work with administrators in the coming months to develop a new training plan. They will begin training students and teachers next school year.
The men also said they want to work with parents. If a parent does not want his or her child to act on the plan, that's OK, Mast said. They encouraged parents to contact school officials with concerns.
"This is changing a mindset," Gilmore said. "It's a 9-11 mentality. Be proactive."
Also at Monday's meeting, board members:
• Recognized May 7-11 as Teacher Appreciation Week. On May 9, the school will host a reception in the lecture hall to recognize teachers who are retiring. The reception begins at 4 p.m., and Celina mayor Jeff Hazel will present a resolution of appreciation.
• Listened to Celina Education Association president Kay Klopfleisch talk about Race to the Top and new teacher evaluations. New state law requires teachers not to be evaluated based on seniority; 50 percent of their evaluation must be based on student performance. The school must find a standard to measure student performance. Celina will host the Ohio teacher evaluation training June 27-29 in the lecture hall.
• Accepted a $4,818 donation from the Mercer County Civic Foundation for student trips and musical support and a $16,000 donation from the West Elementary School Community Organization for iPads and a cart.
• Approved the retirement of Jan Morrison, intermediate school guidance counselor, after 38 years of service.
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