Your source for CHS news


Your source for CHS news


Your source for CHS news


CHS students, SRO address school safety procedures

CHS student texts their mom during a lockdown. Lieutenant Adam Miller says that CHS takes gun violence seriously, “We encourage all students to take the lockdown drills seriously and think about what they would do if it was a real incident.  The key to surviving a tragedy is preparation.” 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the increase in school shootings in America from 2009 to 2021 has increased by 88%. With the number of school shootings on the rise in America in recent years, many students and members of this school have taken more accountability for how they can keep this school safer. For example, Grace Larkey, president of Students for Safer Learning (SSL) club and junior, has taken it upon herself to spread awareness by starting a club to educate students and staff members on gun violence. 

“We try to focus on gun violence as a public health issue because it is a public health issue. But oftentimes people tend to focus on the legalities behind the issue, which is also important. So we just really focus on creating a lot of awareness and educating people on prevention techniques, specifically like how to prevent gun violence,” Larkey said.

Lieutenant Adam Miller said the student resource officers (SRO) unit has responded to the increase in gun violence seen in American schools by continuing to update its safety procedures as officers learn more about trends seen in school shootings.

“We feel that we can constantly improve,” Miller said via email. “One of the measures specific to CHS is using a Student Safety Committee. We take input from CHS students to address where they feel there are safety concerns. We want to make sure all students can come to school and feel safe. If students don’t for some reason, we want to address those concerns. It’s a true partnership between the SROs, the school staff and (the) students. Every school in CCS has a certified School Safety Specialist. We hold monthly meetings with the School Safety Specialists to discuss recent trends, have tabletop exercises and even being in outside instructors. The goal is to take that information back to share with their schools.”

In addition, Miller said the school conducts lockdown drills to build muscle memory and to prepare the students to feel ready if something were to happen. 

“Every drill that is conducted in the school district is critiqued by school staff and the SROs,” Miller said. “At CHS, we bring in several SROs and invite other CPD officers to attend.  We all walk the halls and take notes on what we see.  After every lockdown drill, we share those notes with CHS admin and they follow up to make sure there is an improvement. We share that information with all of the SROs so lessons learned in one school can be applied to others.  We are never complacent in our safety measures.”

Cali McFarling, member of SSL and junior, said lockdown drills can be beneficial but they feel overdone.

“I think lockdown drills are good to know,” McFarling said. “I’m not sure if they need to be done at the frequency that they are. But it’s definitely good for people to know what to do in case something bad were to happen.”

Larkey said she agrees with McFarling as she said lockdown drills feel repetitive and the time could be used to better educate students and staff. 

“I do appreciate having lockdown drills, I think that’s important,” Larkey said. “But honestly, I feel like doing the same thing once a month to a certain extent gets kind of repetitive, and I feel like it can get almost meaningless… I think it would be more meaningful if instead of just having like an intruder drill, I realize that that’s probably under some state law, but I think it would be a lot more impactful if we kind of used some of that time to also educate students about gun violence instead of just doing a drill. Because at some point, after you do so many lockdown drills, it just feels like you’re going through the motions and you kind of forget the meaning behind it.”

Miller said working together to help ensure the school is safe is key to preventing school shootings. 

“To ensure the best safety in a school the size of CHS it takes a collaborative effort,” Miller said. “The SROs spend a lot of time reviewing physical safety measures to make sure they are in place, but that’s only a portion of the safety plan. Education and training are a bigger part.  Our biggest vulnerability is the human element. If the staff and students aren’t trained in how to spot threats and respond, then the safety plan falls apart. We educate the staff each year on our safety protocols and why they are important. The staff will take that knowledge and share it with the students during drills.  The same safety plan is taught from kindergarten to seniors. Keeping these principles consistent means that the vast majority of students have had years of training on what to do if there is an attack at CHS. The SROs can’t be everywhere, so having thousands of students and staff willing to speak up when something doesn’t seem right is the key.” 

In addition, Larkey said communicating and being able to recognize threats is also important to keeping CHS safe. 

During a class, AP Statistics teacher. Matthew Wernke has students prepare for a lockdown beyond the normally scheduled lockdown drills. (Dar)

“I think we took some time to really emphasize school safety and also emphasize how preventable school shootings are,” Larkey said. “In four out of five school shootings, the school shooter had told someone about their plans before they actually shot up to school. So it is really preventable… just watching kind of like the news and gathering information about other school shootings, I’ve seen that a lot of times school shooters will comment something on a social media account that’s like joking about guns. So just little things like that. I feel like social media is a place where if you see something, you should definitely report it. And I’d say we can just prevent it by if we see something, really say something and report it. We shouldn’t be joking about guns to any extent because it’s not something that we should be joking about. And I think if we approach it as a really serious issue, and it is a serious issue, we can change the culture around it and keep schools safer.”

McFarling said students and staff could do more to prevent gun violence within schools.

“Counseling for students is definitely a big one because it’s important to pay attention to everyone’s mental health so that no one feels like they need to bring a gun to school,” McFarling said. “Putting SROs in place, which we already have, but putting more in will be good for everyone. Having more funding put towards school safety initiatives would also help prevent shootings.”

Miller said allowing students to give suggestions on CHS’s procedures is helpful for the SROs and allows the students to feel safer because they are being heard.

“Balancing safety and freedom is a challenge, but very important to us,” Miller said. “We encourage all students to take the lockdown drills seriously and think about what they would do if it was a real incident.  The key to surviving a tragedy is preparation.  We want students to feel prepared not just at school, but if they are in a theater, mall or concert too.”

Larkey said the most important way to guarantee a safe learning environment is to all work together and put in the effort to improve the school.

“Even though gun violence is a really scary issue, it can be intimidating, and it can seem like a really big issue that you can feel kind of helpless. I would say that just having conversations with your friends or even your family members is really impactful in and of itself,” Larkey said. “And if you have a firearm at home or a gun at home, making sure that it’s stored away safely is actually really effective in preventing suicides and gun accidents in the home. I think that having conversations just with the people around you is the first step. You don’t have to do something big to contribute to a change, just doing the little things. If all of us can do a little thing to contribute to a change, I think that’s just really impactful in and of itself.”

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