Raider Wire Staff Discussion: Lockdowns


Do we really know what to do in an emergency? More importantly do we care?

Raider Wire Staff, Staff

This staff editorial explores the reactions, whether emotional or physical, that the staff undergoes during lock-downs, as well as the suggestions that the staff has on ways to improve these drills in order to be more effective and informative.

Amanda Lewsader

I believe that there are ways other than lock-downs to help protect the school staff and students in dangerous scenarios. For example, we all need experience with emergencies at different times and in different areas in the school. Emergencies do not happen when the teachers are aware of what will unfold, and everyone is in their designated class or area. We need practice for situations where we are on the track or football field during gym class, in the cafeteria, and in the hallways because if there is any risk that someone or something is attempting to attack our campus, we should all be prepared in every possible way.

Ashton Bruce

I feel like lockdown drills are never really taken seriously even though they are representative of what we would do in a very serious situation. The situation of a person threatening the campus and our students with a gun is sometimes hard to imagine, despite seeing the effects of it on television. I think, since the community sees these bad situations, they are able to recognize that it’s a situation that could happen, but they can’t really see it happening.

Austin McIntosh 

I think the school handles emergencies really well with the lockdown procedure, but it’s obvious that many students do not take them seriously. The school needs to try harder to inform the students in the halls or the bathrooms that they need to find the nearest classroom. Teachers lock their doors, cover their windows, and tell students to continue working, which is information that students really don’t care about. I think that all staff in the school probably receives and e-mail during lockdown, and it should be up to them to inform students if there is a medical emergency, harmful person, etc. Overall, I think the school needs to try to improve the awareness of students.

Bim Peacock

Most of the emergency drills work rather well, except the one preparing for a dangerous intruder.  I mean, as much as I love putting my head between my legs and kissing my butt goodbye, hiding under the desk with a gun pointed at my head doesn’t necessarily appeal to my dreams of going down in the coolest way possible.  Shouldn’t we learn to defend the room rather than how to die the fastest way possible?  At the very least, there must be SOME way to evacuate rather than waiting for the crazies to get us.

Cameron Conner

At some point during our careers as endearingly cynical students in the public education system, we have all taken part in a lock down drill. The lights are dimmed, the windows covered, and a nervous silence fills the room like smoke as the anxious minds of thirty people bunched together begin to run rampant. While the idea of implementing these drills in hopes of guaranteeing student preparation in the face of natural disasters, medical emergencies, the rise of Cthulu, and so on is sound in theory; the thought of potentially spending the last few minutes of life in North Forsyth High School is not particularly appealing to many students. As thus, many students have come to abhor these drills and the anxious series of fears that could most likely be described as irrational at best in most other situations. On account of this, the question must be posed: are these drills really necessary? Will the difference between life and death in a crisis situation really be sitting in a dark room for fifteen minutes periodically throughout the school year?

Colin Bergen

Honestly, I don’t have much to say when it comes to lockdowns. They’re more of a minor inconvenience than anything else to me. That being said, I do feel that is the problem with most lockdowns. There’s no sense of it being anything other than a minor inconvenience, so we just sort of go through the motions without really taking it seriously. More often than not, all these lockdowns end up doing is making the class chattier and a lot harder to control for some reason, and in the event of a life-threatening emergency, that isn’t a good sign. Now, am I suggesting we start having the insanely realistic shooter drills some schools have, with machine guns firing off blanks and actors pretending to die in the hallways? No! All I’m saying is that we need better discipline in the classes during these events.

Emma Franklin

I understand how lock-down drills are important; I just do not like how we do them. I know that having a drill before school, at dismissal, and during lunch is just not practical, but I feel that it is still important to have students know what to do in those types of situations. The one time I was put into an actual lock down (not just a drill) was at dismissal. It turned out to be a false alarm, but it still did not help that no one knew what to do. We just need some kind of assembly or hand-out pamphlets about what to do if we need to have a lock down while we are not in class.


Erin Dickman

A way to improve lock downs would be to lengthen the duration of the drill. It would allow the students to soak in the full effect of the drill and the importance of knowing what should work in theory. Most importantly, students would be able to get out of class longer- that is all that truly matters.

Ethan Simmons

The lockdowns are a necessary evil in today’s world; however, I don’t think the practice we do is super realistic. Firstly, we only practice what would happen if we are in our class rooms and not in diverse situations like during a class change or at lunch. Secondly, I do not believe that in the event of an emergency as a person with violent intent resided in the building, we would simply sit in the back of the room, waiting our fate. I feel like the teachers, as well as the students, would want to prepare for a fight or attempt to escape instead of giving the shooter an easy target. (The latter is obviously more realistic to practice in a drill.) We should have a clear plan of what to do if a threat is in the building and how and where students should try to escape. I still believe a plan to defend the class is something that at least the teachers should develop, as we cannot involve the students in drills of that nature.

Morgan Champion

Safety is obviously North Forsyth’s biggest priority, but are we going too far with lockdowns and other procedures? Is it really best for our students to be crouched under desks and locked into bathroom stalls in the midst of a potentially dangerous situation? There are good and bad aspects of these drills. On the bright side, hiding from the circumstances might decrease our risk of a mysterious stranger causing any damage to the majority of students’ lives, but on the other hand, it could put more stress on our students to undergo these drills. Another possible dilemma with our procedures is that we do not know what we are hiding from. It might be best if students and teachers could be aware of the circumstances right away via email or phone call. This might not eradicate the problem completely, but it could help to the minimize classroom distraction that often comes along with these drills. Whether students choose to view them as good or bad, lock-downs are a vital component to their safety and should be taken seriously.

Gracen Martin

Lock-down drills have been created with the best intentions, but I feel that they should be more organized. Teachers and students are unaware of what they are supposed to do and what the color-arranged codes denote, leaving them wondering what is happening around their campus and what kind of danger they are in. If the students and staff members were more educated on the meanings of the drills, I feel that the “false alarms” would be more affective.

Jack Kern

The lock-down drill’s purpose is to keep us safe, so I honestly have no problems with it. The procedure is by no means annoying or disruptive. I do not understand how anyone could have any problems with it at all.

Jade Flack

During lockdowns, teachers seem to handle dangerous situations fairly well. If I had to assume the responsibility of about 30 kids, I do not think I could control them. I am usually not the calm one in alarming situations, so I think teachers manage the kids and surroundings within the given conditions very well. However, we could use some more practice, which could be easily done as our school offers many drills to prepare us for a life threatening situation.

JoAnn Ahn

When it comes to the topic of safety, any kind of protection or prevention is vital to the lives of students. If lockdown drills were not included in the school schedule whatsoever, students would not know how to handle any given dangerous situation, which may result in chaos and the loss of lives. Our school handles these drills relatively well and without these frequent drills that occur throughout the year, thousands of kids would not know how to protect themselves from any potential threats within the campus.

Julie Day

The way we execute a lock-down drill defeats the purpose of it; the drill is supposed to prepare un-expecting students and teachers for a spontaneous threat inside the school. This event is never planned, nor should the practice be. A false sense of security is granted through this planning that cannot happen in the actual situation. The drill should be just as spontaneous as the actual event.

Kayla Salemi

I feel that lock-down drills are good ways to organize students and drill them on situations to be prepared for, but the school cannot expect us, as young adults, to cower in the corner of a classroom defenseless. No, I would find something to defend myself with even if it is just a pencil. Also, has no one taken into consideration that if there were to be a lockdown, the first place the intruders would most likely go is the library and/or the lunch room because there are mass numbers of people in these areas. I think we should practice lock-down procedures in other areas, like implementing lock-downs during class change. What would we, as the student body, do without the practice of these drills? We would simply panic.

Kristin Iler

Locking down a school is always exasperating to both students and faculty. Although it keeps us out of harm’s way, lock downs take a hefty amount of class time. For teachers and students, this class time is vital. We use this time to begin/conclude class work. In my opinion, we should begin to improve the timeliness of these safety drills. I understand that these drills are, in fact, to protect us and prepare us for any given emergency, but who says protection cannot be timely?

Maddy James

I feel that school lockdowns are not taken seriously enough and are not always conducted in the best/ most effective way. I think that teachers should take more incentive to make students stay quiet and follow the procedures exactly as planned out by the school board; personally, I feel that if there were an actual emergency, I would not know how to properly respond because the staff does not always follow the guidelines. I also think that it would be a good idea to conduct lock-downs in other locations and during other times in the school day, drilling for situations that could happen during outdoor activities or lunch, when large quantities of students will have to follow the procedures in order to remain safe.

Matthew McFadden

If we want to be adequately prepared for an event that requires a lockdown, we need to practice more scenarios in different places. I have only practiced a code red lock-down in one room of the entire school, so I do not know what would happen if I was in the lunchroom or in the middle of a class change during a lock-down. Adding two or three more drills to the school year would better prepare us for the worst case scenario.

Megan Hoffman

In an emergency, there is a certain set of guidelines that we are taught to follow while we are in lock-down. In an ideal world, nothing bad would ever happen at our school, but with the world we live in, it is better to be safe than sorry. Our plans may be strong, but we could always improve. For example, if you are located in the performing arts center during a lockdown, you are told to sit in between the seats and keep your head down. Which may be safe, but it is not the safest possible plan. With a class of 90+ students, it is nearly impossible to stay silent while crouched under a chair. In my opinion, the school should reevaluate some of the plans it has set in order to be sure that in an emergency, we would be confident in our safety.

Lacy Hamilton

Emergency drills are some of the low-key most terrifying experiences a student goes through in school. They force students to imagine a violent situation within the school; this most often takes the form of an image of a shooter, violently intruding on the school day. We all know that this is a very realistic and feasible event that could happen, but the thought of a school shooting in particular is capable of terrifying he/she who delves into the realms of his/her imagination, concerning such a situation. The questions of what we may be capable of, what our exit strategy would be, and what we would do to reduce the number of casualties are overwhelming, and most students brush off these thoughts with nervous jokes and satirical tweets about our emergency drills. I think these questions that we attempt to repress have merit, and students should feel comfortable considering their answers, despite the thought of the consequences of such a situation. These questions help students further understand the limit and the weight of their actions, creating a more conscientious and prepared student body.

Ben Bramblett

I agree with the concept of lock-downs. If something happens at the school that is worthy of a lock-down, then, by all means, lock the school down. With all of today’s medical emergencies, school shootings, and raging storms you can never be too cautious about the safety of the school and the people who inhabit it.

Natalie Wilson

Our school has thousands of crazy children, running about in different places at every moment of the day, so the fact that they can get us all outside in fewer than five minutes during a lock-down drill is something I applaud. I understand that maybe the response is not logical, and maybe it is a bit hectic and annoying. However, at least the administrative system is trying and succeeding to teach us what to do in an emergency to the best of their ability. There is only so much they can do with thousands of teenagers to keep them safe, so every little bit counts.

Noelle Walker

Lock-down drills: some people find it helpful, while others do not. Personally, I like the fact that we have practice drills. It makes us safer, so if there is any chance we are in a real emergency, we would know how to react to it. However, I do not like some of the ways they do things. One thing I dislike is the way we execute “code red” lock-downs. A “code red” means that a dangerous occurrence/person has occurred nearby, or someone dangerous is in the building. The way we announce that we are going into a lock-down is over our school’s intercom, thus this poses the questions, “What if the “code red” is alerting the school about a person already in the building? Are we going to announce over the intercom that there is someone dangerous inside and to go into lock-down?” With this system of alerting the campus, that dangerous person will know for sure that they’ve lost the element of surprise, leaving them to erratic and extreme measures, which could endanger the lives of more students and staff. We should have a different exercise for “code red” situations like that.

Owen Wickman

Lock-downs are an effort to prevent (or at least lessen) the lethality of school shootings. They are based around the idea that a shooter will not attempt to get into a locked classroom, as the ease of access is not there. I think that they are a good idea in theory, but in an actual situation, I doubt the ability of those involved to remain calm enough to properly enact the procedures. I would expect a large number of people to panic, run from the room, and crowd the halls, worsening the situation. I also doubt the ability of the procedures to be put into effect quickly enough. A shooter would be smart enough to attack during lunch or when transition of class is occurring, thus the whole effect will be nullified. The first thing on everyone’s minds would be escaping, not going to class. There are some flaws within the lock-down system, and they are not easy to address. However, for the safety of the campus, it is important that the administration try.

Perri Rabbitt

Lock-downs: the alarm sounds and initiates jumps and frights all around the campus. Then, the question arises within each of our minds, “Is this a real lockdown?” We smile, smitten because we are missing class time, but really the anxiety, beating within each of our chests and creeping into our thoughts, is genuine. It is one thing to start smelling false smoke conjured by the mind when the fire alarm goes off or for your mind to emphasize the haze settled just above the building, but thinking of the possibilities and numerous scenarios of tornadoes, medical emergencies, or school shootings is frightening. This is what hides behind those smiles. The practices are necessary to remind everyone that we are preparing for what could be a reality, and the reality is seen in weekly headlines of the news, as tragedy globally strikes, leaving the survivors wondering who is next. We are preparing with purpose, and the drills should hit hard. However, they should provoke thought and awareness, not paranoia. Sitting hunkered down in the classroom or hallway, there are moments of time where the reality of the threat can be tasted in your mouth and remembered in memories, thinking of family and friends, times together and time not yet had, hopes and goals waiting to be seen, and adventures wanting to be discovered. These should be thoughts that we reminisce on, as they are precious, priceless, and meaningful to us. They have the greatest impacts on our lives. These are moments that testify to what we love and remind us to love in all, and these moments are certainly more important than the paranoia behind fake lock-downs and emergency drills.

Rachel McCord

I have never really been in a lock-down situation, where I was truly scared or worried for my safety. When I was younger, we had lock-downs, but I never understood enough of what was going on to be afraid. I believe that we do a good job with the lockdown drills; however, they are often not taken very seriously. For this reason I believe the most important thing, when it comes to lock-downs, is making sure that all students and teachers are aware of the reality of situations that merit lock-down drills. This should not be done by frightening them, but rather by making them aware that the threat behind the locked door of the classroom is very real. Too many times lock-down drills are taken lightly, and I, personally, have often heard it voiced that these drills are a waste of time. I do not think that we should all become paranoid, but I do think that it should be taken seriously in the case of a real lock-down situation. Lives are too valuable to be thrown away by a lack of knowledge or realization.

Rayne Crivelli

Lock-down drills are always a bit of a joke, but they are definitely necessary. For the most part, I think they are approached in reasonable ways, but I wish some teachers would take a more practical stance and have a conversation with students on lock-down procedures. For example, in my sophomore year (at a different school,) one of my favorite teachers gave us a lesson on her lock-down procedures. Which bookcases would be moved in front of the door first, which items would be best used as weapons, etc. It seemed a tad ridiculous, but after the Sandy Hook shooting, it settled in that this might be the reality we live in. I know one thing – I’m going for the flag. (It’s got a strong base and a sharp decorative topper.)

Rhiannon Martin

We should practice these drills in case something actually happens, and we need to know where to go and what to do. We need to first make sure the teachers have specifically described directions and know how to complete a drill. How do we make sure that everyone knows what to do? We practice. Practice makes perfect, right? Our safety is not something to be mediocre about, so why wouldn’t we want it to be perfect? During every class, at least once in the school year, we should have a drill. Safety is not something to play around with; it could be a difference between life and death. Sometimes it seems as though other people do not take much pride in being safe, and as we all know, life can instantly be taken from you; therefore, we need to practice as much as possible, because one day it could save our lives.

Seth Anderson 

Something that I think some adults do too often around children is overreact. Such is the nature of lockdowns. If a gun toting madman came to our school, I do not think hiding in a room will keep us safe, especially if we do not have a window to escape out of. If a potential threat were to get into the rooms without a window, the people inside would become hostages or worse. That is why we need to reorganize lock-downs: to allow for people to escape out of windows or emergency escapes. It could mean less deaths and possibly no harm to anyone involved.

Sam Perryman

I think lock-downs are a necessary emergency measure, and, as with many other government imposed regulations, they ride the thin line between function and popular support. While some people may argue that they are a waste of time and resources, I think that, with recent school shootings in mind, we should continue to practice emergency situations and lock-downs. Schools should also add additional drills to their emergency drill repertoire, such as a lock-down drill in the lunchroom and after school.

Alex Rodgers

Personally, the way that our school does lock-downs does not bother me, other than the fact that if a real “code red” were to occur, not many people would actually know how to defend themselves. All of the teachers joke in their classroom that they would throw pencils at the intruder or some other means, but if you actually think about it, there is no logical way to protect one’s self other than cowering in a classroom, hoping that the intruder does not come in. There really is not anything that can be done about that, however. By law, no weapons can be taken onto a school grounds, and I am all for that law. However, it is an unfortunate rule if someone were to attack the school.