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Lockdown Part Two

---Lauren Elmer

The Halloween lockdown at WPHS was terrifying for students, faculty, parents, and law enforcement. However, there was vast misinformation spreading inside the school that led to excessive and unnecessary panic. From my place in the nurse’s supply closet, I first read rumors of an adult male being arrested outside of the school building with a gun. I then read that five kids were running around with one knife. Next was that three students from a different high school were inside the building with a knife, a gun, and a bomb.

Needless to say, none of this was true.

So, what exactly did happen yesterday? During the changeover from seventh to eighth period, the digital clocks that were installed in every classroom over the summer started blaring a beeping siren while displaying the word, “LOCKDOWN." This was triggered by the installment of new phones across the building that will eventually allow faculty to call a lockdown from any place in the school. The lockdown alarm is connected to the phones which transmit the lock down message to the digital clocks while simultaneously sending out a notification to law enforcement.

Teachers and students had no idea that these new clocks have this capability, and so everyone was taken off-guard. One student in the eighth period Service Learning class reportedly stood in front of the clock with the blinking lights and beeping sirens and said, “I think the clock is talking."

While most students and teachers had never experienced a lockdown being announced in this manner, there were a few unlucky students and one teacher who were already very aware. As reported yesterday, an English classroom in B-building had its digital clock commence a lockdown earlier this year. The students and teacher all followed protocol, but students were confused when they realized, through texts and social media, that no one else was in a lockdown. Eventually, they were all dismissed from the classroom by administration, and the day carried on as normal.

The danger associated with a lockdown is incredibly scary, so it is natural for people to want to use their phones to contact friends and family. What is simply not okay is that students took this event as an excuse to disseminate false rumors, only spreading panic and anxiety around our school and our city. When the Parkland shooting happened on Valentine’s Day 2018, videos taken by students being shot at in classrooms were released to the press. Students texted their families with messages of love, expressing hope that they would meet again at the end of the day. So again, it is understandable that students would want to use their phones during a lockdown. I just ask that for the sake of safety and maintaining general sanity in such a high-pressure environment that students consider thinking before blindly spreading gossip and rumors.

How do we move forward from yesterday’s event? First, we must realize that, while a computer error caused this lockdown, law enforcement and school faculty handled the situation just as they should have. No one was hurt and there was no real danger, which is something for which I am infinitely grateful.

Moving forward, I would like for us to focus on improving communication skills. I would like to be notified in the future of new lockdown procedures (like the installation of screaming lockdown clocks). I would not like to hear about absurd rumors of catastrophic danger around the corner while I am huddled between two wheelchairs and trying to stay strong as an example for my friend. But most important, I would like to not have to have lockdowns. Call me idealistic, but mass gun violence has no place in our schools. As stated perfectly by Ryan McDonough, a WPHS senior, “I feel like people have become so desensitized to situations like this, that no one takes them seriously anymore.” To this observation, senior Uri Korin added, "I was taken aback by the lack of seriousness on the part of students. I think a sense of maturity is necessary to deal with these types of circumstances, so there needs to be a better job done getting across to students how severe things are."

Students: Realize that while we have had to grow up with learning ways to prevent dying in our classrooms, our children do not need to. They deserve better. We deserve better. Contact state legislators and tell them your lockdown experiences from elementary school all the way to yesterday. Follow Ghandi’s advice and be the change that you want to see in the world.

Parents and Teachers: Teach your kids how to use phones responsibly in lockdowns. Fight on their behalf to secure their safety in school by organizing groups and contacting state officials.

Administrators: Trust us enough to tell us when you install new equipment that directly correlates to our safety. We deserve to know.

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