Yesterday during first period, RBHS Assistant Principal Lisa Nieuwenhuizen announced over the intercom the start of the Alert, Lock down, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE) Drill.
The goal of the ALICE Drill is for students and staff to prepare and evacuate the building efficiently in case of a school shooting, Director of Security John White said.
“School safety and active shooter stuff is constantly evolving,” White said. “When I started just seven years ago, we didn’t lock any doors. We’ve moved from being completely open and not doing any intruder drills to completely locking the doors and doing intruder drills.”
“When I started doing just the drill with students involved, there was a little bit of push back from some parents who didn’t think it was a very great idea. I think you’d be surprised to how many “no’s” there were.”
White said overall students at RBHS are improving in drills, especially after facing it for many years at CPS; however, he also said there is always room for improvement. If it is impossible to leave the classroom, barricading the doors is paramount to slow the intruder and give students more time to prepare, and if necessary, arm themselves, White said. Additionally, student should be more discreet when escaping the building to not attract any unwanted attention.
The day of the drill
Just past 9 a.m, all instruction, classwork and side talk cleared. United States History teacher Kimberly Thielen-Metcalf motioned toward the doors in a frenzy and said, “We go.”
Without question or hesitation, students left their belongings and funneled towards the doors into a jammed hallway. Above the chatter of students, staff tiptoed and waved above the crowds to tell students to use other, less congested, exits.
For sophomore Meaghan Cone, the drill was “a little nerve wracking,” and while she usually doesn’t take drills seriously, she felt inclined to actively participate.
“With the numerous shootings happening in the schools around the nation today, the fear has found a way to creep in,” Cone said.
Senior Carter Foust, however, experienced a different attitude from his peers and believes staff should try to enhance the drill by making it more realistic.
“While running down the hallway, I saw people walk and on their phones and didn’t even care,” Foust said. “Part of me thinks that it would be helpful if they fired blanks like they did with the teachers because it would actually make people want to prepare for it.”
What do blank shots sound like around the school?
Director of Security John White fired blanks shots in Chemistry Hallway, adjacent to the Journalism room (328)
East exterior entrance, near room 208, across the school of Journalism room
Art Hallway, directly across the Journalism room
During a teacher workday, Sept. 24, a staff only shooter drill took place where blanks were fired at different locations around to school. The purpose of the blanks was to inform teachers how gunfire might sound like White said.
Chemistry teacher Sarah Laster said she was startled at the loud pop she heard when the blank was fired near her classroom. Growing up on a farm, Laster heard gunfire before; however, she felt the noise was more pronounced because of the ricochets from walls. Besides the noise, Laster said the smell and sight of smoke was unexpectedly distinct and conspicuous to her as well.
After the practice, all teachers and staff gathered in the Main Gym where they discussed their experience as well as asked further questions to White.
“I know that there are people who will disagree with me, but I really think we should consider doing this very exercise with kids in the building,” Physics teacher Malcolm Smith said. “I think they need to hear this.”
Smith’s comment was met with nodding heads from other faculty; however, White said he doesn’t think it’s possible.
“When I started doing just the drill with students involved, there was a little bit of push back from some parents who didn’t think it was a very great idea,” White said. “ I think you’d be surprised to how many “no’s” there were.”
Although Foust understands there would be opposition, he said it’s still worth it to try because of the unstopping shooter count in schools.
“I understand some people think it’s scary and that it would give them a bunch of anxiety,” Foust said,” but in a real [active shooter] situation, you would have all of that anxiety.”