Safety in Attleboro Public Schools

The AHS library. (Photo/Kayla Houle)

The AHS library. (Photo/Kayla Houle)

By: Kayla Houle

Grabbing the attention of the Attleboro Public School district and many other communities across the world was the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012, leaving 20 students, ages 6 and 7, and six adults killed at the school.

Schools in the Attleboro Public School district continue to make their buildings safe, ensuring that the most important thing is to make students feel secure and to keep the desire of wanting to come to school and learn alive, despite the tragedies that have happened across the country.

 “I am not scared to attend school every day, I feel safe because of the extra cautionary steps my school takes,” said senior Rachel Stevens.

Most schools in the Attleboro district are becoming stricter about who can enter a building. After someone enters any school at the principal’s office, a license or form of identification must be shown. By taking this extra step to ensure the school’s safety, it reflects how the students feel about attending school every day.

“They don’t just let anyone into the building. They have to sign in first and I feel they are always on the lookout for any unusual behavior,” said Stevens.

“Throughout the school year we only practice the drills once,” senior Jared Lee said, adding, “no” to the idea that AHS focuses enough on safety.

Even though Lee disagrees he explained that he still does feel safe and the tragedies that have happened do not affect his everyday learning experiences. “Not at all,” he said, adding, “I just don’t believe it could happen here.”

“There’s only so much a school can do for every single student’s safety,” said Stevens.

Along with the students of AHS, the teachers also should feel safe when coming to work. “I believe we are just as vulnerable as the schools that have had the shootings; I try not to think about it,” said AHS carpentry teacher Mrs. Eileen Homen.

A survey was sent out to teachers at AHS. Forty-seven out of the 55 teacher responses said that they did feel safe coming into work every day. Six out of 55 said they did not or “sometimes” did.

“Deans, hall monitors, the resource officer, cameras, and all the precautionary elements are in place. Reaction time to incidents is prompt; you can only control that which you have control over. If an individual decides they are determined to do something that, in most cases, cannot be stopped. Precautions, awareness, communication and expectations are very important,” said art teacher Ms. Lindsey Nygaard.

Also asked through the survey was if teachers believe that AHS staff would alert the school of suspicious activity.

“Although I feel safe I do believe an incident could always occur without warning as has happened elsewhere,” said mathematics department head Mrs. Patricia Izzi.

“I believe everyone is fairly alert around school and teachers have a good enough relationship with students to hear about possible trouble,” said language based teacher Ms. Stephanie Forte.

Six out of 55 teachers said no they did not think their students would alert the school to suspicious activity. Forty-seven out of the 55 teacher responses said yes they think students would alert the school.

“I have been teaching here for 14 years and have never felt threatened. Sure, there could be one person who is disturbed enough to do something violent, but I don’t worry about it,” said English teacher Mr. Dan Walter.

“As safe as anyone can be, if someone wants to come in and do harm, not much will stop them. Good plans minimize impact,” said District Health Coordinator Mrs. Deb Ebert.