Thursday, January 24th, 2013
By William Kincaid
Fort Recovery students conduct intruder drill
FORT RECOVERY - Teacher Diane McClung turns off the lights as a few students lug a table toward the door, flip it over and prop it up. Other students add chairs and desks to help fortify the barricade.
"Work together," McClung says. "Barricade this door more. Let's get this higher."
Her eighth-graders oblige. Nearly every piece of furniture in the classroom is heaped against the door.
"Stack it up. More hands," she says.
The students arm themselves with books, the classroom flag, staplers and other objects and retreat to one side of the darkened classroom.
"Get an object, something sharp," McClung says.
After waiting in silence for a few minutes, middle school principal Matt Triplett opens the door and slowly pushes through the barricade. He evaluates the students' work, praises them for their effort and points out the barricade maybe could have been a bit higher.
"We tried ... it's hard," one student says.
All students and teachers at the elementary/middle school on Wednesday afternoon practiced barricading their doors as part of ongoing training in the event of a violent intrusion.
McClung also instructed her students to throw objects at the face of an intruder, make a lot of noise and run away.
"You feel much more powerful," she said about the new districtwide survival philosophy that teaches fighting back. "You don't feel like a sitting duck."
"That's really the whole purpose behind the program," Triplett said. "It's a response option. The kids have the option to learn that you can defend yourself."
In previous years, the office staff was instructed to send a message over the PA system - "Mr. Locker come to the office" - that would notify staff that a violent intruder was in the building. Teachers would lock their doors and hide the kids in a corner.
"Now we say there's an active shooter," Triplett said. "We give a detailed description as much as possible so we provide the teachers with as much information ... and then that helps them make their better decisions."
The information would allow teachers to decide if they should evacuate the building or hunker down and barricade the room, depending on where the shooter is, he said.
"We put a lot of emphasis on our communication lines from the office," he said.
Talan Bates, the technology coordinator at Parkway schools in Rockford, came to watch the drill. His district is in the process of updating its emergency responses and security.
Bates agreed it makes more sense for people to actively respond to an invasion.
Triplett was pleased with how the students and teachers responded to the drill.
"I thought they handled the situation very well," he said. "I know I saw some kids coming up with some interesting ways of barricading the doors. They really used ... science and the thought process."
Triplett said school officials will continue to evaluate the school and responses, such as working on mass evacuations during lunches and basketball games.
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