Principal Tom Harmas makes school safety changes as year begins


Principal Tom Harmas works on his computer in his office. Harmas said as the school year begins, he is focusing on methods of improving safety at CHS.

Carson TerBush

According to Principal Tom Harmas, CHS is making some changes to promote school safety this year. Harmas said administration has removed all-school convocations, added stricter policies regulating entrances and exits and planned to emphasize the Culture of Care initiative. In addition, Harmas said new staff members including Superintendent Michael Beresford, Director of Student Services David Woodward and D.J. Schoeff, Head Student Resource Officer, will contribute to improved safety conditions at CHS and Carmel Clay Schools in general.

Harmas said all-school convocations have officially been removed after deliberations throughout last year, but CHS will still recognize students’ achievements.

“We always have to find a way to celebrate our kids; that’s important. However, talking to my Principal’s Advisory Council last year; talking to kids in the hallway, the luster of the whole-school convocation kind of had lost some of that magic. We think it’s important, if we’re going to celebrate our kids, we do it in the right environment.”

Harmas said presentations aired over CHTV and shown during SRT as well as events like the Walk of Champions will replace convocations in an effort to maintain student recognition.

While Indiana’s government recently subsidized free metal detectors for many Indianapolis schools, Harmas said he believes this is a logistically problematic safety solution and he intends to place more emphasis on other policies when it comes to school safety.

“Trying to get 5,000 kids through metal detectors and searching bags, what’s that going to look like; are you going to get here at 4 a.m. to come to school? While it sounds easy, it’s not as feasible as one would think,” Harmas said. “Balancing a positive school environment and safety really is (difficult), because you want to make sure that the kids still feel welcome, that the community still feels welcome, but that you are able to monitor, to supervise.”

According to Harmas, some new policies will instead play a larger role in keeping CHS safe.

“We’ve had all our doors open for a long time, and we really sat down and said, ‘Okay, where do our kids come in, and do we have people at those doors, do we have cameras at those doors,’ and so forth. We’ve limited the number of doors that kids can come in in the morning, and we’ve limited the number of doors that will be open after 3:30 p.m. because all of those are at least monitored by direct camera supervision.”

Student body President Tim Metken said he believes while the changes will likely increase safety, they won’t have a significant effect on students’ daily life at CHS.

“I think it might impact TCP students a little bit, but overall I really don’t think there’s going to be an impact,” Metken said. “The only thing that’s going to happen is just a better sense of security.” By Carson TerBush