It’s becoming part of the fabric of media reports to hear about a school in the U.S. either on lockdown alert or unfortunately, with an armed shooter on a school campus. School officials at King’s Ridge Christian School are not sitting idly by hoping the odds are in their favor. They are taking action and have involved the entire school community in training for what they hope they will never have to use in real life.
School staff members were back from summer break only a few days before they all started training for a Standard Response Protocol system that can be used for a variety of classroom situations. Earlier this week over 400 King’s Ridge parents met for a Campus Security meeting to learn about the part they would play when students are involved in a number of security scenarios. The system was adopted from a security plan called “I love u guys”, named after the text message sent by Emily Keyes to her parents as she was held hostage and then was shot and killed by a gunman at Colorado high school in 2006. The protocol involves anything ranging from a familiar fire or tornado drill all the way to a lockdown if there is a threat inside the building or a campus evacuation with a reunification plan outlined for parents to safely secure their children.
“Our facilities were designed with security as a priority with closed circuit cameras and buzzer accessed doorways, states Lowrie McCown, associate headmaster. “After the Sandy Hook incident we made the commitment to look even further at everything that could be done to make the environment as safe as possible for our students.” Since that time the school has added security software to screen photo IDs with checks of a sexual predator database for all campus visitors, limit access to campus traffic, and a number of other initiatives that are not broadcast to the public at large.
School representatives also attended security clinics where they networked with emergency response officials and invited them to partner in creating an emergency response plan for the campus. “We applaud King’s Ridge for being proactive in developing this comprehensive plan for their students, staff and parents,” states Officer Ara Baronian, Community Outreach Office for the City of Milton. “They have attended similar meetings where we train and have learned the same vocabulary that we use. This will allow for a smoother partnership should we ever need to visit the school for a crisis situation.”
Should a crisis occur on campus emergency response public records indicate law enforcement officials would be on the King’s Ridge campus within minutes. At that point students would already be operating under the Standard Response Protocol and law enforcement would immediately take charge of the situation. Students will drill for all situations led by their teachers who have been trained in a common language. It was determined one reason the attempted shooter situation at the McNair school in DeKalb County campus had a positive outcome was because the students had drilled and knew what to do ahead of time. They maintained a calm demeanor and had an organized reunification plan.
School safety is at the top of every parent’s list but it is one of those topics that is hard to think about happening at your school. What do King’s Ridge parents think after learning more about the program? “I thought that the presentation was very clear and concise about what to do in an emergency situation” commented Tanya Lamkin, parent of a King’s Ridge lower school and middle school student. “It’s good to understand ahead of time which child I should pick up first if an evacuation were to occur and students are moved to a different location.”
Even though children become more independent as they get older our concerns as parents don’t change. “I was happy to see that the school administration was on top of coming up with the best security measures for the school,” stated Rhonda Henricksen, mother of a King’s Ridge middle school and high school student. It gives me peace of mind to know they are thinking about this.”