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School Safety: Administration v. Student Perspective

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School shootings have been an exponentially rising issue in the news and in our country. Being in a high school 5 days a week and roughly 180 days a year, this subject is very relevant to many people at Parkway Central.  

Officer Caswell is one of the only resource officers that is on duty at all times. “The school is usually secure but we only have one resource officer who can’t be in two places at once,” Senior Venkatesh Satheeskumar said. Students can feel unsafe at school. Increasing the amount of officers on campus could potentially increase the feeling of safety by being able to cover more ground.

Another issue that Satheeskumar mentioned was the front door access. Anyone is able to enter and leave Parkway Central as they please through the far left door at the front entry. In response to this, Satheeskumar said, “All front doors should be locked at every point in the day after school begins.”

Satheeskumar has also mentioned the kids in Parkland, Florida who are making a difference in their area. These are students who have been directly impacted by the school shooting in Parkland. They have been tweeting, writing essays, and appearing on television to fight for their voice in the matter of gun violence and gun control. “They are the future of making our schools safer. Dick’s Sporting Goods has even dropped assault rifles and raised the age on buying guns at their store due to this whole Parkland situation,” he said. This example of voicing your rights and your opinions has helped to inspire students in our school to stand up for their opinions and even their safety.

Dr. Tim McCarthy, the building principal, emphasized the fact that high schools these days are not the same as it used to be.

“You add to that, that your memory is post 9/11 as well, so I think that’s a part of what I’ve been reflecting on and talking with people about,” McCarthy said. “My perspective, because of my own experiences, may be different from the perspective of some of our students who’s context of when they grew up is very different.”

He also compares school shootings in the present day to the space shuttle, Challenger, that exploded shortly after take off. However, he also recognizes that this is a very different type of tragedy, and for him, that was the biggest devastation that his generation lived through.

Many adults have a hard time wrapping their head around our current situation in school because when they grew up, times were so different.

“This wasn’t the context of my childhood and it is for our kids. And i’m sorry that that’s where we are, because it isn’t just the one event. There’s a frequency with which thats happening. What’s the impact of that? I don’t know,” McCarthy said.  

McCarthy talked about how school shootings have made a big impact on him, especially as  parent. “Both as an educator, a principle and as a parent, my two kids are in 6th grade and 4th grade, what does that mean? I think there’s a shared sense of sadness that this is the world our kids are living through,” McCarthy said. As a parent, Mccarthy shares the same worries and concerns that our parents have as well. People all around us have been forced to fear the safety of their kids or themselves at school due to the tragedies that have been consistently bombarding our country.

The school community continues to debate what can be done to increase the level of safety at school. A prominent question that is continuously asked is “Why do we just do intruder drills during aclab?” In response, Mccarthy said, “Typically, those are on B days during aclab and part of what I say is that the next day your teachers should talk about that. So Ideally, the conversation is just reviewing that but our response is going to be similar regardless of what period it is. But I would say that that’s an understandable question and something we’re reflecting on is do we need to change things up? Do we need to practice these responses in different setting and at different times?” The recognition of our principal regarding the procedures and practices of a safety emergency and knowing that there are people working on improving our system is reassuring because it makes students feel as though their voice and their concerns are truly being heard.

Kids are still going to fear school. So what can we do to prevent that? In Mccarthy’s opinion, the answer lies within the community.

“We are going to continue to reflect on our policies and practices as it relates to safety and security and how we can continue to strengthen relationships between students in the building and between students and staff. I believe that the community is part of the solution to that challenging context. Developing nurturing, strong relationships have to be, in my opinion, part of the answer, to help support our students as they navigate and live through challenging times” He said.

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School Safety: Administration v. Student Perspective