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WPHS Halloween Lockdown

By Lauren Elmer

Today I experienced one of the scariest moments of my life while in school. A loud beeping siren blared at 1:50 p.m., which I remember because I was walking to gym class and checked the time on my phone to see if I was running late. I wasn’t. 

Teachers all around me immediately began yelling the word, “Lockdown!” while rushing kids into their classrooms.

I was disoriented and confused as I turned to my friend and repeated the word and immediately broke out into a sprint. I passed the security guard outside the athletic hallway and was pushed into the nurse’s office by the wave of my peers behind me. I was immediately pushed all the way into the back of the office into a supply closet with my friend, where we were then forced into a crevice formed between two wheelchairs. I dropped to the floor while my friend stood. We did not think that we would be in this position for an hour and a half.

Boys were fooling around at first until we were informed that this was a real lockdown. They would later apologize to me for not taking it seriously at first. However, it should be impossible to be a student today and not take lockdowns seriously. The class of 2020 was in fifth grade when the Sandy Hook shooting happened. At the age of ten, I had to learn what to do in case a gunman entered my building with the intent to kill. Today’s experience reaffirmed everything I have learned since then. 

After the Parkland shooting my sophomore year, WPCSD set new policies in place to protect students in situations like this. School personnel acted more quickly than I thought possible, and it seems that everyone’s training has paid off. Parents were quickly notified of the beginning of the lockdown and were also sent updates in the form of emails, phone calls, and text messages. Superintendent Ricca acted swiftly, and the White Plains Police Department cleared the building and released students at an incredibly impressive rate. I thank everyone on behalf of the student body at White Plains High School. 

This lockdown was a false alarm, yet the rumor mill started spinning just as soon as it was announced. Students’ claims of different possible threats flew across social media and text. Parents were urging others to release nonexistent information on Facebook, and everyone seemed ready to implode by the time a formal announcement was put in place by the district. At the time of this publication, Dr. Ricca has stated that the alarm system was activated due to a system malfunction.

Earlier this month, a similar event occurred, but only one classroom was affected. One classroom in lower B-building had the word “lockdown” appear on the room’s digital clock. The teacher and students immediately braced themselves with the knowledge that something in the building was very wrong. Only it wasn’t. Nothing was wrong. They were the only room in the building on lockdown. I was in the senior study hall next door with my friends, and we were completely confused when we learned that there was a class in lockdown while we were completely fine. The class remained like that for half the class period while the rest of the school carried on as usual. Could the new clocks have anything to do with what happened today? We will update you when more information is released. 

Until then, take lockdowns seriously. Parents: remind your children to take lockdowns seriously. Teachers: remind your students to take lockdowns seriously. Students: realize that growing up in this reality is not normal and that students should not have to worry about being shot while learning geometry.

Make change. Be leaders and advocate for students’ rights against gun violence. 

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