Security guards in tactical gear joined the rest of campus in a lockdown drill Feb. 23 to ensure that students and faculty members were aware of appropriate and secure locations in the case of an active shooter.
The lockdown drill was required by an amended 2018 California law, Upper School Student Discipline and Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado said in his email to upper school students. Now, schools are required not only to conduct lockdown training but to consult with local first responder agencies and mental health professionals, according to California Legislative Information.
This is the first time security has participated in a drill with the entire community on campus, Head of Security Jim Crawford said. In the past, they have enacted their drills on an empty campus.
“We can’t give direction to an empty campus,” Crawford said. “We have practiced getting those areas when there’s nobody here, but not when there are cars, kids and maybe some obstacles that we have to think through when we get through these different areas of the school.”
The guards attempted to open classrooms from all buildings on campus, which created a more authentic experience for students, Taylor Lacour ’19 said.
“I think it helped,” Lacour said. “I was terrified when they rattled the doors, but it made it more realistic.”
The drill allowed students to practice how to immediately react under a lockdown drill, Head of Upper School Laura Ross said.
“Part of our job is to make sure that no matter what happens, we are prepared,” Ross said. “It’s situational. If you’re in a classroom, where do you go. If you are in Chalmers, where do you go. If you’re on the quad, where do you go. If you’re on the field, where do you go. It’s trying to both get people procedures and encourage them to think on their feet in these situations.”
Crawford said he hoped the presence of guards will demonstrate what their position is on campus.
“We want [the community] to know that we’ve got your guys’ backs,” Crawford said. “We’re really not parking checkers. We are really here to protect you guys. This is the best way to give an inside look of what these guys do in the event that something is going to happen.”
Although the presence of security guards helped to create a more realistic situation, Lauren McGee ’20 said it did highlight a sense of levity many students and teachers have during campus-wide drills.
“It was almost like there wasn’t a drill,” McGee said. “We were just sitting silent. I still heard noises in other classrooms. It does help us prepare us for an actual lockdown, but I do think there should be more to make it more serious. Even if it’s a drill or not, it should be taken seriously.”
Given the increase of school shootings and security issues across the nation, Crawford said he hopes the drill will increase preparedness not only at school but also in all public situations.
“These things can happen anywhere,” Crawford said. “We want to encourage the community here to look and be aware of what’s going on and to talk about what we are going to do if we hear gunshots on campus and are on lockdown mode.”
After the lockdown drill, teachers discussed how students should react in the case of an actual active shooter. Those reflections, security guard Mark Geiger said, are just as important as the drill itself.
“That conversation is what is going to stay with you and keep you ready, whether you are at school or somewhere else,” Geiger said. “You’re going to go with what you’ve talked about and what you know. If you have something to work with, you’re going to respond better.”