A student practices lock down drills. Photo by Audrey Hart and Brittany Berrum

A student practices lock down drills. Photo by Audrey Hart and Brittany Berrum

On Monday, March 7, 2016 Chaparral High School was placed on lockdown after hours at approximately 5:28 pm. With no information, students acted the way normal high schoolers would: they ran, hid, called their parents... the “norm” in a life threatening situation. However, students and staff members across the school successfully followed protocol.

Chaparral has gone through ten-plus years of drills without ever thinking that the unthinkable would happen. Now, it was time to perform what the school had practiced. On Monday evening, fourteen Newspaper and Yearbook staff members, along with Newspaper advisor Kalilah Herscovici, were working on finalizing the last edits to send their publications to print. Suddenly, office volunteer coordinator Kathy Frahm announced on the intercom, “Chaparral High School is now on lockdown.” We, as the students in room 312, did what we practiced so many times before: we ran to the back room and locked our doors. Once safe, panic overcame the students who began sending “goodbye” texts while Herscovici contacted 911, notifying them of our location, and crawling on the floors to lock the other three rooms that surrounded our classroom.

At the time, the only information the dispatcher gave was that a man with a gun may be outside the building. With that, tears flooded student faces while Herscovici attempted to calm down the students. She told them she wouldn’t let anyone hurt them without going through her first. It was silent as everyone thought about the last thing they said to their friends, their last meal, why they didn’t like the “fav for a dm” tweet their crush had posted, and the fear of having their life on the line. That’s it-- no more Aunt Catherine’s pumpkin pie and certainly no more boxed mac and cheese after school.

Looking back, this event didn’t become “real” until Herscovici glided across the room ensuring safety of her students by locking all the doors.  All the practice on drills had finally come into play, and yet we always looked at these drills as another reason to avoid taking that math test or an excuse to get out of English class.

Yes, we all know this event was a big misunderstanding, but that fact is it could happen. We need to understand this: these drills are not for fun, they are not there to waste time in class. These are put in place for times like Monday night-- when the imaginary becomes reality. When a real fire occurs, your brain will automatically react, and will look to the nearest exit that you’ve practiced so many times before. The drills are set forth for your safety. Public shootings have become increasingly common, and knowing what to do in whatever emergency situation is essential for your personal safety.

In Colorado, shootings hit close to home with Columbine, the Aurora movie theatre shooting, and most recently, Arapahoe High School. The drills might seem repetitive and annoying, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Students should be appreciative and productive when they are trained for the disasters that might occur. So Chaparral, next time you hear alarms interrupt your routine, look up and pay attention, this could potentially save your life.

By Brittany Berrum and Audrey Hart

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