Portland Taking New Safety Precautions to Better the School
During the lunch time hours on March 16th, students and staff at Portland High School partook in a lockdown drill. According to Principal Christine Rockey, the Critical Incident Management Inc, (CIM) “comes to the school board with ideas on how to make the school safer and suggests drills during unconventional times. We can practice to keep students and staff safe.” Members from CIM, staff, and Portland police officers were all present during this drill, directing students to various locations in order to practice for a true lock-down during lunch time.
Superintendent William Heath explains that “training is critical when you are faced with an emergency. Staff need to take a leadership role in an emergency, and practicing allows us to feel more comfortable and to recognize areas of concern. For students, I think it is important to know the basics of staying safe and finding a secure location. I don't know what students would have done before today's drill. Now that the drill is complete the majority of our students will know where to go and can assist those who may not remember or were absent today,” said Heath.
The school plans on continuing drills like this one in the future while trying out different times and places for drills to maintain a safe and friendly environment for all students and staff members. “The better students are trained, the better equipped the students are. For example, if I am gone they should still know where to go in case of an emergency,” said Rockey.
Drills can only go so far, though. The May 8th vote could enable the high school to enhance school safety. “Our P.A. system needs improvement. In an emergency we need to be able to communicate immediately with students and staff. At lunch it is loud and no one can hear a P.A. announcement. The replacement of the system is on our list of security items incorporated in the May 8th bond vote,” said Heath. Being prepared for any dangerous situation is the main goal of Portland High School. Proactively working with CIM to come up with new ideas and ways on how to keep the school protected. By creating an impervious area students can have an ideal setting for learning and socializing with others.
“This school, along with everyone in it, is like my family and I will do whatever I can to protect them,” said Rockey.
Caelyn Smith and Kassandra Hengesbach are students at Portland High School.