Are We Safe at Staples? Students, Faculty Weigh In

David+Dubois%2C+a+security+guard+at+the+front+desk%2C+watches+as+visitors+enter.+Security+staff+and+specific+policies+help+keep+the+school+safe.

David Dubois, a security guard at the front desk, watches as visitors enter. Security staff and specific policies help keep the school safe.

Simon Stracher, Sports Editor

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, there were questions about why this happened, and how this happened, and of gun control, and mental health awareness.

One question hit closest to home – are we safe here at Staples High School.

David Dubois – security guard at the front desk – believes we are. His reasoning begins with the geography and architecture of Staples’ front entrance.

“It’s pretty open [by the front desk]; it would be almost impossible for someone to sneak up,” he said.

Dubois added that on the Monday after the shooting, he felt no more unsafe than he has on previous days. “I don’t want to say it can’t happen here, but I think as long as the school follows the policies, it is safe.”

Maggie Parkhurst – a paraprofessional who works mainly in the library – looks around the school and sees spaces that raise concerns.

“Looking at this library, where do you go?” Parkhurst asked.

In the event of a lockdown, a paraprofessional or librarian must go outside to lock the door. That alone sounds risky, Parkhurst said. And with its many windows, the library is potentially unsafe, Parkhurst worries.

Even before last Friday’s tragedy, teachers, administrators and other personnel worked hard to, as much as possible, ensure students’ safety.

According to Parkhurst, she and other library personnel frequently check the windows for suspicious looking people. Unusual clothing, like all black attire, would raise a red flag. Security guard Dubois is similarly vigilant about looking for people, “who I don’t recognize.”

According to Dubois, the majority of guests are frequent visitors, who are recognizable to him.

If an armed adversary managed to get in the school, Principal Dodig would initiate a lockdown of the school.

In the event of a lockdown, teachers and administrators would take several steps, according to a document distributed to Staples teachers. Teachers, aides, and paraprofessionals are instructed to check the hallway in the immediate area and check the bathrooms (if they are close to one); any students found are to be gathered into the nearest class. Teachers then lock the doors, close the windows and shades and turn the lights off. Then they wait, away from windows, outside walls, and doors, for the principal’s announcement of “Unlock, all clear,” or “Lockdown is over.”

In addition to the lockdowns, there will also be new efforts to keep Staples safe from harm. Mr. Dodig recently attended a district-wide meeting of principals where they discussed these efforts, but at this point, it looks as if there will be no drastic, new measures.

“At a certain point if you want to prevent someone from coming inside and causing damage, you would need a maximum security prison. If someone is hell-bent on coming inside to harm a school, then they will most likely get in,” Dodig said.

Some of the school’s rules that exist are good but need to be followed more consistently. “We will reinforce the measures that we have already taken. There will be a doubling of efforts to try to keep all the doors locked,” said Dubois said.

Students interviewed said they feel sure the school will undertake any needed changes; they maintained that they feel safe, even after Sandy Hook.

“I felt safe before and now I’ll feel even safer. Now the school is going to be even more protective. I’m confident in our school, and I’m confident in our security,’ Lucas Jackson ’14 said. He added, “Schools everywhere will

be stepping up security measures to make sure we aren’t the next victims.

Yousef Shahin ’14 echoed Jackson’s thoughts. “Visitors aren’t going to be able to just walk into the school without being checked out.”