Is East Lyme High School Safe?

Shootings across the country have raised awareness for saftey in school

On the morning of April 20, 1999, two heavily armed teenagers shot and killed 12 students, a teacher, and wounded 23 others before killing themselves in Columbine, Colorado. Schools across the nation, including East Lyme High School, responded by implementing new security measures; however, nearly 20 years and too many school shootings later, communities continue to address school safety, and clearly other additional measures are needed.Following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, the Newtown community responded to the tragedy, in part, by demolishing the school, and re-building with safety being one of the highest priorities in the school design. They made sure to include physical reinforcements like buzzers at the front door, bulletproof glass, and security cameras. Similarly, East Lyme and other schools subsequently upgraded their security, equipment, and safety procedures as well. Cameras and mirrors were added, doors became locked, and visitors had to be cleared to enter, all in the effort of making school safer and protecting students. Additionally, the approved Elementary Schools Alterations projects currently underway include $2.5M for school security priorities and upgrades
“Keeping the classrooms locked and having a police officer at the high school makes it feel safer and protected,” said sophomore Gilly  Goodwin.
Officer Don Hull, working as a school resource officer since 2017 when the position was created, and five additional staff, support East Lyme security across the schools. Resulting from a 2015 School Safety Report and as part of the security requirements, classroom doors need to be able to be locked from the inside at the Middle and High  School.
The Sandy Hook massacre also prompted stricter gun and gun permit laws, and in 2013, Connecticut implemented what NPR has identified as “some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.” Over 150 types of assault weapons were banned by the new lawsand the purchase of gun magazines required a permit, and background check, including a check weapon offenders registry. Many states, however, have not implemented such  measures.
Some students feel that more changes need to be made to ELHS after the recent Parkland  shooting.
“I think bags should be checked more often because it would be easy to bring something dangerous into the school as bags don’t get checked as much as they should,” said sophomore Kylee Santos.
While the high school continues to practice lockdown drills, they are limited to a shelter-in-place response and do not address what-if scenarios, like a shooter entering the building during lunch. While students would run for safety and/or lock themselves into the nearest classroom, these scenarios or tactics have yet to be practiced or planned, which can lead to anxiety and chaos. Administration has mentioned making videos to demonstrate what to do in an emergency, but as of the writing of this piece, there are none.
“Drills are designed to teach and practice possible scenerios that could potentially save a life, just as safety percautions implemented in schools are to enhance the saftey of all who are in or around the school buildings,” said Director of Campus Safety and Security, Christopher Olsen.
Mental health programs in schools and communities are being made more comprehensive across the country, some of these programs are incorporated in the school curriculum. One of these programs is called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) that focuses on positive social culture and support for all students. Freshman Academy covers topics on mental health, but “this may need to be extended [to all health classes] because students should be able to remember and continue to learn about a topic this important,” said Santos.
In Parkland, Florida, Nikolas Cruz showed many signs indicating he could be harmful to others. In September 2017, a blogger informed the FBI of Cruz’s YouTube comment stating : “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” On Jan. 5, 2018, someone close to Cruz contacted the FBI’s tipline reporting Cruz’s gun ownership, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, and the potential of him conducting a school shooting. The Secret Service and Department of Education published a joint report that highlighted some commonalities in school shooters. In most incidents, some behavior prior to the attack caused concern to others, many attackers felt bullied or injured, and other people knew about the attacker’s idea. The report added, though, that Cruz’s attack showed some of those common  characteristics.
“It’s important not to isolate the kids that may just be shy or quiet, because that doesn’t mean they are different or harmful,” said sophomore Larysa Ghaybeh. According to a 2018 PBS analysis, social skills play a key role in behaviors, and students making better connections with each other may be able to “recognize troubled peers who need help.” Students have opportunities every day to interact and connect with each other, and at the same time, promote a safer school  environment.
Resources are available at ELHS including teachers, counselors, and the school psychologists. If anyone needs to talk to an adult or has questions or concerns about safety, don’t hesitate to ask.
design . They made sure to include physical reinforcements like buzzers at the front door, bulletproof glass, and security cameras. Similarly, East Lyme and other schools subsequently upgraded their security, equipment, and safety procedures as well. Cameras and mirrors were added, doors became locked, and visitors had to be cleared to enter, all in the effort of making school safer and protecting students. Additionally, the approved Elementary Schools Alterations projects currently underway include $2.5M for school security priorities and upgrades
“Keeping the classrooms locked and having a police officer at the high school makes it feel safer and protected,” said sophomore Gilly Goodwin.talk to a senior to see if they have noticed any changes in the 4 years they have been here
Officer Don Hull, working as a school resource officer since 2017 when the position was created, and five additional staff, support East Lyme security across the schools. Resulting from a 2015 School Safety Report and as part of the security requirements, classroom doors need to be able to be locked from the inside at the Middle and High School.
The Sandy Hook massacre also prompted stricter gun and gun permit laws, and in 2013, Connecticut implemented what NPR has identified as “some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.” Over 150 types of assault weapons were banned by the new lawsStrictest in country?. Try to cite an actual source if possible and the purchase of gun magazines required a permit and background check, including a check weapon offenders registry. Many states, however, have not implemented such measures. (need a source for this?)
Some students feel that more changes need to be made to ELHS after the recent Parkland shooting.
“I think bags should be checked more often because it would be easy to bring something dangerous into the school as bags don’t get checked as much as they should,” said sophomore Kylee Santos.
While schools continue to practice lockdown drills, they are limited to a shelter-in-place response and don’t address what-if scenarios, like a shooter entering the building during lunch. While students would be running as fast as possible for safety and/or locking themselves into the nearest classroom, these scenarios or tactics are not practiced or planned, which can cause anxiety and chaos.
Mental health programs in schools and communities are being made more comprehensive across the country, some of these programs are incorporated in the school curriculum. One of these programs is called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) that focuses on positive social culture and support for all students. Freshman Academy covers topics on mental health, but “this may need to be extended because students should be able to remember and continue to learn about a topic this important,” said Santos.
There are also warning signs that may come across in a person that students can watch out for. In Parkland, Florida, Nikolas Cruz showed many of signs indicating he could be harmful to others. In September 2017, a blogger informed the FBI of Cruz’s YouTube comment stating : “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” On January 5, 2018, someone close to Cruz contacted the FBI’s tipline reporting Cruz’s gun ownership, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, and the potential of him conducting a school shooting. The Secret Service and Department of Education published a joint report that highlighted some commonalities in school shooters. In most incidents, some behavior prior to the attack caused concern to others, many attackers felt bullied or injured, and other people knew about a the attacker’s idea. The report added, though, that there is not a useful profile of school shooters Cruz’s attack showed some of those common characteristics, and .
“It’s important not to isolate the kids that may just be shy or quiet, because that doesn’t mean they are different or harmful,” said sophomore Larysa Ghaybeh. According to a 2018 PBS analysis, social skills play a key role in behaviors, and students making better connections with each other may be able to “recognize troubled peers who need help”. As students, we have opportunities every day to interact and connect with each other, and at the same time, be promoting a safer school environment.
There are always resources available at ELHS including teachers, counselors, and the school psychologist. If anyone needs to talk to an adult or has questions or concerns about safety, don’t hesitate to ask.

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