5.23.2007

LOCKDOWN!

Today at school we got a call for a lockdown right before 1:00 p.m. I only had my boys in class. The girls were having a special celebration in another room with the counselor. I had just excused them and I asked a student to bring them back. Fortunately they had not left the hallway.

We had practiced where we would go and what we would do. Because I am away from the main building, we get a phone call for lockdown instead of hearing it on the intercom. As I pulled the drapes and locked the doors the boys moved quietly and swiftly to our designated "safety zone." I knew we were planning on having a drill , but that was supposed to be in a week. Was this real? I could see by their faces the boys were wondering the same thing.

I emailed my attendance and placed a green card under the door out to the hall that meant "all okay." I had leftover bottled water from another day so we passed it around and sat quietly in the dark, sipped water, and waited. I was surrounded by a group of young men that I had know since they were five years old. I had many of them for reading in summer school when they were in lower grades. I had watched them grow taller, heard some voices change, and groaned at their silly jokes. I had this mother hen protective feeling as we sat in close proximity on chairs or on the floor. I wanted everyone to be safe.

My mind moved back to Saturday and the shooting that occurred in Moscow, Idaho. I often teach at the university in the summer and know many people that lived in the area around that church. On Sunday my friend B emailed to say she had dropped off a friend close by the church fifteen minutes before the shots were fired . My other friend E was watching the news and thought somebody had lit firecrackers. It was hard for both of them to believe. Like me they were shocked.

As we continued to sit quietly I watched the classroom door. I also remembered Virginia Tech and all those students in classrooms that day. We knew there was an old fallout shelter through a trapdoor in the classroom closet. Could we all go down there if gunshots were heard?

When you sit in a lockdown the time seems to move slowly because of the unknown.The boys got restless and the air got stuffy. Just then the phone rang and we were informed that the drill was over. Relief. We had sat there about ten minutes.

We quietly gathered our things and went down the hall for a debriefing. The girls arrived and described what happened in the main building. They tried to get into one room, but it was locked. A teacher helped them into another room, then the girls heard screams, banging, and a bat slamming on the door. The principal allowed the middle school students to ask questions, talk about what they would have done if they were outside, what worked and what didn't.

The drill planned was for an angry parent to come through the building with a baseball bat. The parent (staged) yelled and tried to get in classrooms. The drill was also held at the end of high school lunch and passing time to see if students could get to safety if they were in the parking lot or heading to class in our building. I was caught off guard which made it very real.

School safety is important. We want to be prepared for all types of emergencies. I understand the purpose for drills, but when I am sitting side by side with a group of boys in a dark room during lockdown I silently pray that they will be protected from violence and the dark forces in our world.
I wanted everyone to be safe.

9 comments :

  1. Gads, that sounds like a pretty realistic drill.

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  2. Your post brings back memories of our "duck and cover" drills when I was in elementary school, and the fear they engendered. I wonder if we aren't doing more harm than good by subjecting our kids to these drills. (I do think the adults should be prepared and ready to protect the kids, I just don't know that it's a good thing for the kids to rehearse for something that will likely never happen)
    Re. your comment: I actually like okra, but I'm weird that way. I love strange textures. Jellyfish skin, mmmmmm. :)

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  3. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Immediate. Vivid. Emotional. Suspenseful. Holy. You were born to blog!

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  4. How frightening! I am so thankful we don't have to do that, well, to that extreme. We, as homeschoolers, do have fire drills, burglar drills, and stranger drills. All have been used for real and I was glad we've had the drills. But we never actually had someone show up mysteriously with a baseball bat. From experience... the real thing is scary enough...My friend, the teacher at high school, always hates the drills...and like you, a mother hen in fear of her students. It's terrible we live in a world where this is now a reality. When we were kids, we only had fire drills, once every three months and none in high school. Small town I guess...lol

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  5. When I returned to school yesterday the students were still talking about the drill and where we could have gone to be safer, etc. I wonder also Molly about doing these type of drills. In a few weeks we will close out another school year. Fortunately it was a safe one.

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  6. We have had 3 lockdown drills this school year.. one was just after the shootings at the Amish school (only about a 45 minute drive from us).. one was just after Christmas break, and one was last month.

    I knew though, after the most recent drill, that my colleages and I would have probably "bought it" .. there was absolutely no way on earth that 9 autistic kids were going to sit quietly. Oh no.. this was their "wild card" to have major melt downs.

    There was also absolutely no way that any bullet, knife, bat, or weapon of any kind was going to get near their little elementary school-age bodies, without first having gone through one of our adult teacher/aide bodies.

    I can so completely identify with your "mother hen" feelings..

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  7. So glad to hear that such drills are taking place. We all need to be more aware of what is going on around us. Even though the kids were scared, they are learning how to be pro-active, so they won't be victims by default.

    That mother hen feeling is inherent in women. We are generally nurturing, but can be fierce if someone is threatening "our kids"!

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  8. Peanut... I said the same thing to my husband when I returned home that evening.
    Pinehurst- you are right... I can be fierce!

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  9. Gee, that sounds scary! It's sad that society has come to this kind of preparedness drill.

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