Lockdown reinforces importance of drills

“This is not a drill.”

These were the words heard by the entire FHC staff and student body as they moved out of sight of any windows and doors in their classrooms on Tuesday, August 13th. Students and teachers quickly responded after hearing Principal Sonny Arnel’s declaration over the intercom that the school was under lockdown.

Tuesday’s incident was prompted by a threat in the community. A suspicious adult male who attempted to enter Francis Howell High School’s campus early in the morning was believed to have gone to Francis Howell Middle School. As a precautionary measure, eight Francis Howell School District schools in the area, including FHC, were placed on lockdown.

According to Associate Principal Lucas Lammers, FHC’s overall response to the lockdown was very impressive. Although the entire building was secured in a matter of minutes, Mr. Lammers believes there are still some improvements that can be made.

“The way we ended the lockdown was wrong,” said Mr. Lammers. “In the future, principals will personally go from classroom to classroom to release students from the lockdown. An announcement over the intercom will no longer be used. ”

In order to better prepare for any situations like this in the future, FHC’s administrative staff has decided to make a significant change to the lockdown procedure. Lockdowns will no longer be ended via a statement made over the intercom because it could potentially be the intruder who is forcing the principal to make the announcement. Whenever it is safe, administrative staff will visit each individual room to give teachers and students permission to resume classroom activities.

About an hour before Tuesday’s lockdown, students had just resumed classwork after completing an earthquake drill and a fire drill. These were the first of many drills that are scheduled to be conducted this year.

“It is necessary to have these drills so that students and staff know what to do when the real thing happens” Mr. Lammers said. “Especially since we have new teachers who may have done things differently in the past.”

Several drills are practiced throughout the year to ensure that everyone is aware of the manner in which serious and unexpected situations will be handled. The lockdown last week reaffirmed the necessity of understanding and constantly practicing emergency procedures at school.