Active shooter drill practice begins

Carson Francis

Volusia County students practiced a code red two lockdown on Dec. 13 for the first organized time. This drill is for active shooter and hostage situations, and will be practiced several times this current school year.

Before the drill took place, students and teachers watched a video provided by the Volusia County school board, which presented scenes of what to do in case an active shooter were to come on campus. After watching the video, students were then on ‘lockdown’ for the drill.

“With the Parkland tragedy last [school]  year, I think we all became very hyper aware of needing to have more security on campuses,” teacher on assignment Dr. Tara Middleton said.

During the code red two drill, students stood behind a blue line of tape away from the door within their classroom with the lights turned off. This line was the area where active shooters would not be able to see if they were to look through the windows of the door; the lack of lighting also showing an absence of anyone in the room.

“Everybody from my account took it very seriously,” Middleton said. “I was very thrilled and  impressed with all the students.”

Every color drill will now be practiced once per semester, twice per school year, in order for students to understand what to do when in each hypothetical situation relating to the drills.

“I feel that we should have more of the shooter drills more than any other drills, because right now it’s [shootings are] happening [in reality] more than any other drill that we practice,” junior Austin Matthews said.

Whether it is a fire drill, a severe warning drill or a bomb threat, students are advised to follow safety precautions.

“This is what I would really appreciate from students,” Middleton said. “For the code red two drill, everybody did exactly what they were supposed to do. I was walking through the campus, and I felt everybody took it so seriously, and I was very grateful and appreciative. I want everybody to take it as seriously as other drills.”

However, leading up to the first code red two drill and past it, students have expressed concern about lack of security on campus, causing easy access to potential threats. Students enter and exit the grounds without notice at times, raising red flags to some as to how easy it seems for people to come and go.

“The doors to the student parking lot are unlocked all the time and there’s not even administrators monitoring who comes in and out of our school,” senior Emma Alacan said. “Last week there was this kid who got locked out because he stayed out longer for lunch than he was supposed to. I watched him jump the actual fence, get inside the school and walk on campus and nobody saw anything.”

Administrators sit by the student parking lot doors frequently during the school day to monitor students coming on and off campus, only absent when their help is needed somewhere else. When this happens, at least one door is normally unlocked for late or dual-enrolled students to enter and exit as needed.

For freshman Paige Russell, this kind of access was something she was not used to before moving to Volusia County on Sept. 1. Before moving, Russell lived in Broward county and attended Pioneer Middle School, 20 miles away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the tragic school shooting took place.

During middle school and her first few weeks at Cooper City High School, Russell and her peers had to have student IDs on them at all times while on campus. Classroom doors were always locked on campuses she was at, and active shooter drills were a frequent occurrence.

“I feel like we should have IDs,” Russell said. “I know from experience from my old school, nobody liked wearing them. But when you really think about it, when it comes down to it, you’re grateful when you have that safety measurement. Here, when you’re walking to school, anyone can really get by, and they don’t really know who you are if you don’t have it.”

From different perspectives on security measurements and precautions, many students believe the code red two drill has heightened peers’ and faculty awareness for possible active shooter events and knowing what to do if something were to occur.

“I think it’s very important, especially for all the things that have been happening around the country, especially in Florida and the Parkland shooting and everything,” freshman Vincent Russo-Hood said. “It’s very important for safety for all students, and I think this [drill] was very informational and very entertaining that we are focusing on this.”