Proof of protection

Student safety remains top priority of Texas High School


Photo by Dakota Dennard

School police officers work to ensure the safety of all Texas High students

Story by Sophie Keller, Staff Writer

In the past year, Texas High School has faced multiple safety concerns: two bomb threats back to back in the spring, and more recently, a shooting threat. While all of these instances have resulted in nothing more than empty threats, it does lead some to wonder what these experiences are like for the students.

“You know, it was scary at first because teachers seemed confused at what was happening. And I was like, ‘OK, something really bad is going on,’” sophomore Salem Alonge said. “But when I just [went] through, started talking with people, I was fine after that, like, I really didn’t care after that. It was just like a mini field trip outside.”

While all of the threats have added up to nothing so far, and some students may be concerned about their safety, most believe in the school’s ability to protect its students in the case of a threat.

 “We always had multiple officers on campus patrolling the area so even if there was somebody that managed to enter somewhere we have decent security,” Sophomore Ean Sharp said. “I figured nothing would happen to us because the school is a very safe place.”

A school police officer on duty during lunches shares a conversation with a student (Photo by Dakota Dennard)

As demonstrated last year, the school does have procedures in place in the chance of something beyond what’s covered in the normal drills. However, some teachers do like to have a plan ready just in case.

“I make sure that my students know what is available to us in this room, because it’s different in every classroom,” teacher Kelly Rowland said. “I have some students that are designated to grab scissors. I have some students that are designated to grab stools. I have weighted metal poles here that some students are designated to take and swing if necessary.” 

Obviously, this is only to be done as a last resort, but Rowland understands the importance of being prepared.

“But all of those are only in the event that someone has made entry into the classroom or is attempting to, and we have no other choice,” Rowland said. “I just don’t want the kids to be scared. I want them to not feel helpless. I want them to feel like we have a plan in place.”

While students spend most of their school day in classrooms, it’s important for them to know what to do if something happens in between. Rowland says to be aware of your surroundings; note places to go in the event of an emergency.

“But when you are out in the open, just think to yourself, what would I do if something happened right here, right now? Where would I go?” Rowland said. “And so I think the best thing they can do with each other is have a plan not just when you’re locked in classrooms, because the likelihood of something happening is much higher when students are moving: between classes, breakfast, lunch, coming in the morning, late in the afternoon, or walking, you know, between classes, down to different buildings, and they’re out in the open.”

Turns out, some of the students have similar ideas. 

“I start formulating plans on how I will run or like, if anything happens, anything scary happens,” Alonge said. “I have like somewhere I can escape to like, I start making up like places, safe places in my head, you know, in case of something going on, while they’re trying to actually protect us.”

Despite what some may think, they’re really doing everything they can to keep students safe. There are plans in the case of just about anything: bad weather, fire, intruder, etc.

“We had a safety meeting at the beginning of the year this year to go over the new steps put into place,” Associate Principal Richard Stahl said. “Go over ALICE training, which is an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. There’s an online system that sends out different [trainings] for suicide prevention, toxic chemicals and things like that. We go through pretty extensive [training] every year.”

All in all, students safety has and will continue to be a priority among the teachers and staff.

“[I’m] very confident [in the school’s ability to keep students safe]. That’s one of my responsibilities up here. I take it very, very seriously,” Stahl said. “That’s why I get upset when I see us not being safe sometimes.”