History teacher Sue Nellis (upper left) and the juniors in her AP U.S. History class crowd in one corner of the classroom during the March 6 lockdown drill, the school's first in three years.

First lockdown drill in three years under review to nail down emergency protocol

Harrison Moon
History teacher Sue Nellis (upper left) and the juniors in her AP U.S. History class crowd in one corner of the classroom during the March 6 lockdown drill, the school’s first in three years.

A lockdown drill on March 6, the first in over three years, is being reviewed to teach the administrators, faculty, and students what needs to be done in case of an emergency, according to head of high school Brooke Wells.

Fire drills are required twice a year in both private and public high schools according to the California Code of Regulations.

However, Wells said that lockdown drills are not required, so the school doesn’t schedule them on a regular basis.

Wells said that reviewing the school’s emergency plan has been on the agenda for about two years, but that because of all of the recent school shootings, now was the time to do it.

In an email, Jay Holman, director of the physical plant, explained the procedure for a lockdown:

The event (is) announced via internal and external campus speakers stating that we are in lockdown.

“Classroom doors (are) locked from the inside and people huddle quietly out of the line of sight as best as possible.

“If on the playing fields or blacktop at the rear of the property, students exit the property at Munroe Street or Oak Meadows Park, depending on which was closer.

“The lockdown would conclude by release from school administration or local authorities (such as the) police or fire department.”

Wells said that students’ actions should be self-explanatory.

“It’s not rocket science,” Wells said.

“You get inside, lock (the door) and hide behind desks. The police are (only) six minutes away.”

But he also said that in a real emergency situation, it is not just about following the standard procedure.

“The high schoolers need to use their brains (and) evaluate the situation,” Wells said.

“Either get into a safe spot and lock the door or run.”

Sophomore Emma Boersma said that the drill acted as a good reminder, although her AP Calculus AB class didn’t do very much to engage in the drill.

“(Math teach Chris) Millsback just pushed all of our desks into the very front of the classroom out of view of the window and closed the blinds,” Boersma said.

“And then we just kept working on our problem set.”

But Boersma added that although it may not have seemed like they were taking the drill very seriously, there wasn’t all that much more they could have done.

“It doesn’t make sense to waste time just sitting on the floor when we could be working,” Boersma said.

She also said that Millsback told the class that in the event of an actual shooting, they would move the large bookshelves to block the windows and doors.

“It made me feel safer that he had thought about what we would do in an emergency,” Boersma said.

Harrison Moon
Juniors Heidi Johnson, Joe Mo and Emily Hayes listen to history teacher Sue Nellis during the March 6 lockdown.

Junior Gabi Alvarado also said that the lockdown helped her feel safer and more prepared.

During the lockdown, Alvarado was in AP U.S. History. She said that because it is one of her largest classes, it is the one she would be most concerned about in the event of a lockdown, especially because of the large window in Room 4, history teacher Sue Nellis’s room.

But actually doing the drill and seeing where everyone would hide made Alvarado feel safer, she said.

“Realistically, we might not be able to do much in (the actual) situation, but it is still important to try to prepare,” Alvarado said.

However, sophomore Savannah Rosenzweig said she thought that the lockdown was not effective.

She said that there was barely enough space in the corner of Latin teacher Jane Batarseh’s room (no. 9) to fit everyone out of sight of the large window.

According to Rosenzweig, the drill taught her little about how she would actually stay safe in a real lockdown.

Sophomore Jewel Turner agreed that the drill wasn’t very helpful.

Turner said that while she did feel safe in chemistry teacher Victoria Connor’s classroom, the drill didn’t teach her what to do if she was in any other situation.

“No one took it seriously enough to actually learn what to do in an emergency,” Turner said.

“And in a real situation, there are going to be kids that are in the bathroom or walking around campus, but we don’t practice for where they are supposed to go.”

Wells said the school is going to use the results and feedback of the lockdown to show what parts of the procedure need to be reevaluated.

He said that finding a way to draw the blinds quickly and training everyone to know what to do if they are outside during a lockdown are two factors the school is planning on addressing.

He also said that a Google document was created so that teachers can share their opinions on how the drill went and that the faculty are going to have a meeting soon to discuss what should be changed.

And Holman said that the school “is working towards practicing lockdown drills annually.”

Wells said that the last lockdown drill also happened because of events outside of the school.

“Around that time we had an actual lockdown (while students were not on campus because of) a robbery and shooting down the street,” Wells said.

On Oct. 24, 2014, Luis Bracamontes and his wife Janelle Monroy went on a rampage, beginning when Bracamontes shot two police officers with his AR-14 semi automatic assault rifle at the Motel 6 on Arden Way. After carjacking and shooting a man in a nearby cul de sac, the couple drove up Fair Oaks Boulevard to Arden Park and stole a different car.

Although students were not on campus when these events took place, the school decided to have a lockdown drill so that students would know what to do if something like this were to happen again.

By Anna Frankel

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