Seniors Bella Mathisen and Eivind Sommerhaug enter English teacher Jason Hinojosa's classroom. (Photo by Elise Sommerhaug)

Large windows, lack of cameras to remain

A Jan. 29 poll of 114 high schoolers asked students if there should be more changes to school security than those instituted Jan. 18. 

While many wrote “none,” two common answers appeared: remedying the large windows in the high school and placing security cameras on campus.

“For security, all-window classroom aren’t great,” senior Chloe Collinwood wrote.

Sophomore Nate Leavy agreed. 

“They’re practically entire walls,” he said. “During a lockdown drill when I was in (Latin teacher Jane Batarseh’s) class, we realized how difficult it was to find a position in the room without a direct line of sight to the windows.”

Head of school Lee Thomsen, however, said the large windows are likely to stay.

“One of the attractions of the high school space is how open those rooms feel,” he said. “Otherwise, the feeling inside the rooms would be negatively impacted.”

And Thomsen said installing cameras is unlikely.

“Getting good cameras everywhere you need is expensive, and monitoring takes time and energy,” he said.

Thomsen also mentioned how much ground cameras would need to cover.

“I can’t even begin to think how many cameras we’d need,” he said. 

Meanwhile, history teacher Sue Nellis suggested identification badges for students. 

“I wonder if the next step (for security) will be students needing something to identify them,” she said.

Thomsen said he didn’t see the need for student identification but that it’s an “open question.”

“I don’t think you need first graders wearing IDs, but one could make an argument that maybe high schoolers could,” he said.

Ultimately, picking safety projects is a matter of priority, according to Thomsen.

“Each year we look at the different needs on campus and prioritize how the school will allocate money for those projects,” he said. “There are literally dozens of things we wish we could do, but we simply don’t have unlimited funds to do all those projects.”

—By Mohini Rye

Originally published in the Feb. 12 edition of the Octagon.

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