Students and school safety


Photo by Janae Applin

School Resource Officer, Tiffany Osborn, joined the high school staff at the start of the 2018-2019 school year to help ensure the safety of WCHS students

Noah Weber, Staff Writer

I was in the 400s bathroom, scrolling through memes on Instagram on Jan. 8 when it happened. A bleep over the intercom announced “We are going on lockdown…this is not a drill.” Immediately, anxiety beset me and for the first time I questioned my safety at WCHS. As my mind raced, more questions rushed into my mind: What was the plan of the teachers and principals? What does a lockdown even mean in terms of a threat level? Furthermore, how quickly could the police get here if there is an incident?  How truly safe am I at WCHS?

School safety has been a topic of debate in the recent years due to a rise in school shootings in 2018. According to BBC News, “At the beginning of 2018, Education Week, a journal covering education in the US, began to track school shootings – and has since recorded 23 incidents where there were deaths or injuries.”

The threat to school safety has led to the rise of Student Resource Officers (SROs) and A.L.I.C.E. training for teaching staff and students. However, even though both these measures have been taken here at WCHS, when 100 students were surveyed during A Lunch on Feb. 13, 42% said they felt unsafe at WCHS.

Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, staff underwent A.L.I.C.E. training, an acronym that means Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate. On a November QPT Day, staff ran through A.L.I.C.E. drills.  This flexible strategy is the reason for the numerous ways the incident on Jan. 8 was handled. Some teachers barricaded the door with lab tables and others kept teaching as normal. This week, students are watching A.L.I.C.E. training videos. The hope of the district is that an entire school that is A.L.I.C.E. trained will minimize the chances of catastrophe.

When a school goes on lockdown, the police get involved. According to WCHS’s SRO, Officer Osburn, “The police response time in West Carrollton is 2 to 3 minutes.” In the event of an active shooter, all police officers in the area will be brought to bear. This includes the police force in Miami Township, Moraine and Miamisburg. If the situation calls for it, then more powerful police forces can be called in.

However, even if the police are on the way, that doesn’t address the fact there is an intruder in the building this is where the SRO Tiffany Osburn comes in. She said, “I would do anything for these kids.” With this level of dedication, an active role in many school safety programs, and access to equipment to counter a threat, Officer Osburn can be trusted to protect the student body from a possible threat.

With all these forces and rules in place, the school is as safe as it can be. On the matter of school safety, Principal Candice Haffner and this to say: “The more we can minimize threats around us (not only here at school) the safer we are.  While it is impossible to erase all threats, being aware of our surroundings, and controlling what we CAN control, increases our safety dramatically.”

As a student, it is important to make sure you understand possible escape routes. Today, students will view the “Evacuate” A.L.I.C.E video. Also, all staff members are equipped with a safety plan and can tell you the closest exit from your classroom.

Officer Osburn believes that mental health is the biggest threat to WCHS.

As a school and community, if we support each other we can all feel safer and happier.