As Christmas break comes to an end, one local school district re-focuses their attention on insuring their student’s safety. According to the Superintendent of the Ravenna City School District, Dennis Honkala, student safety is their top priority.
School safety issues seem to be in the news now more than ever. In an article on CNN’s website, the writer tracks the number of school shootings from 2009 to 2018. Over those ten years there was a total of 356 victims over 180 school shootings. That number equals one school shooting every 20.28 days.
Ravenna schools have many initiatives in place to give their students and faculty a safe environment to learn and succeed. There are cameras located in all three of the schools. These cameras have been added at different times over the past 10 years, with the elementary building gaining the technology in 2018. Along with the cameras, each building is equipped with an intercom that must be rung before anyone is allowed in the building. This ensures that the school office in each building is aware of all guests.
The schools also share a resource officer that travels to the different buildings throughout the day. They have the duty to protect the schools if anyone was to enter one of the buildings with the intent to harm students or faculty. The resource officer is seen as a “first line of defense” since they are trained on how to confront and stop and active shooter.
Ravenna’s superintendent says that the most important safety initiative that the school has enacted is the “Sandy Hook Promise.” This national non-profit organization was founded by the families that lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012. This organization focuses on addressing the “human side” of gun violence and helping troubled children before they get to the point of using a gun to hurt themselves or others. Posters educating kids about the “Sandy Hook Promise” can be found around Ravenna’s high school, middle school and elementary school. These posters remind kids “if you see something, say something.”
However, schools also need to have action plans for if such events occur. Honkala said the schools work with Ravenna police to have their kids and faculty participate in ALICE Training. ALICE is an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. These are the steps that are to be followed if an active shooter ever enters one of the schools. The school participates in an active shooter simulation once a year where they practice their training.
While it is important to protect the children in the schools, some parents feel as though too much security is a danger as well. Jarred Froman, when referring to his daughter in preschool said, “There should be security, but I don’t want to send her to a school that feels like a prison either.”
When asked to expand on his thoughts Froman said, “Having guards walking around with semi-automatic weapons doesn’t give the sense that we live in a free and safe society.” He continued, “If there are gates, metal detectors, security dogs and “RoboCop” walking the halls, it makes you wonder what’s going on in the neighborhood.”
Children today face a lot of dangers as they go throughout their daily routines. That’s another reason why schools should always be looking to improve on their safety procedures.
Ravenna City School District has gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of their students and faculty, but even they will tell you there is always room to improve. While the national government tries to end mass shootings in the United States, it is important that schools do everything in their power to protect the children entrusted to them.