By Mia Moses-Ricci
Across America, our hearts were heavy on December 14th 2012 in reaction to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary school where twenty-six innocent lives were taken. Twenty of those were students and six adults. The gunman, Adam Lanza, intruded by first entering through the front office of the school. As the gunman confronted the principal, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, with his motives she quickly became a hero as she lunged to announce a threat on the school’s PA system which let all of the teachers and staff know that they needed to protect the students. After he killed the heroic principal, he shot students and teachers within two class rooms. Since this horrible day, security and safety have been at the top of everyone’s list of priorities.
While the controversy regarding stricter gun controls rages on our best weapon that we as a society have is to protect ourselves and children is to use safety and security. Schools across America have been more cautious, concerned, and secure since December 14th. Our own principal, Mr. Hickey said “It has made schools and communities more aware of the fact that violence from outside of the school can harm students and educators inside the compounds of a school campus. Many people are taking what happened at Sandy Hook and looking at their individual school and making changes to prevent intruders from causing harm”.
When I asked Mr. Hickey if he feels that our school is as safe as it could be he responded by saying, “Yes. However, nothing is a guarantee since we are open to the public. That’s the challenge that every school is faced with after the Sandy Hook tragedy. How do you still have a welcoming environment without turning so many folks off by becoming a prison? It’s tough to do and not everyone will be happy with the results because some compromise will have to take place on both sides. There can’t be too much safety that folks are dreading coming to the school vs. there can’t be too loose of an environment in which the lack of proper security measure aren’t in place and students, parents and teachers don’t feel secure”.
The changes made to improve our safety as a school have been noticeably productive. Our Safety Committee consists of parents, teachers, a school resource officer, technology specialist, custodial, and administration. Many new security cameras have been instuled accross campus as well with a new TV monitor in the front office which allows for monitoring of the campus. “Plans are to add more cameras to the front parking lot to allow us to monitor folks who are coming on to our property” said Mr. Hickey. All doors including must always be locked. The procedure of “locking every door” has been making students and and feel secure.
The goal is to always improve. The goal is to keep all lives safe. Our principal, administration, teachers, school, and community have to goal to never lose any innocent life especially due to a safety measure which could have been prevented. For the next school year, Mr. Hickey foresees positive safety improvements for everyone. “The Safety Committee will begin writing a procedures manual that will help guide us next year as we hope to have a training component in place to prepare ourselves for intruders. When it comes to an intruder who wants to do bad things on our campus, seconds could save lives!” Mr. Hickey said.
As a country, we stand together and never want to encounter the tragedy of a weapon landing in the wrong hands. We never want to experience the mourning or any more children due to safety measures which could have been practiced. Viera High School is partaking in huge safety and security improvements and practices. As a school, we can assure ourselves that we are safe due to our amazing administrators and teacher they are cautiously and highly improving the safety to everyone whom encounters our school. Safety must always be the first priority!