Heightened awareness of school safety in the wake of a tragedy


Anna Cogswell

School resource officer Tony Gomez helps insure the safety of Foothill students and staff. Photo Illustration Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press
School resource officer Tony Gomez helps insure the safety of Foothill students and staff. Photo Illustration Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, students and staff have mixed feelings about the safety of Foothill, and some express opinions concerning the national gun control debate.

On December 14th, 2012 an armed intruder shot and killed 20 elementary school students and six staff members of Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I don’t feel unsafe, but it just lingers in your mind that someone could do that,” sophomore Michael Villalpando said.

In a service letter issued on the Ventura Unified School District website, Superintendent Trudy Arriaga states the district has been “reassessing facilities, procedures, and protocols” to ensure campus safety.

Principal Joe Bova confirmed that the district’s principals have been in contact with each other and with the police department and have discussed school safety.

“The police department did an audit of schools to check for facility issues, they checked the doors at Foothill,” Bova said.

Bova further explained that immediate evaluation is taking place but long term solutions “need more discussion.”

The current VUSD policy regarding an intruder on campus is immediate campus lockdown. Lockdown entails students hiding in classrooms and remaining silent.

An alternative policy called A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) would call for a more aggressive role in protecting students, and has been tested in schools across the country.

A.L.I.C.E. training aims to teach students to “distract” and “confuse” armed suspects using methods such as throwing textbooks at the intruder or setting off the fire extinguisher, ultimately evacuating the facility.

English teacher Melanie “Captain” Lindsey feels having a panic button that unlocks a gun safe would be a smart idea for teachers to access.

“I would have no problem carrying a gun,” Lindsey said. “I know gun safety and would have no problem with certain safe, trained individuals [carrying guns].”

But not all students and staff feel comfortable with this option.

“I didn’t sign up for the military, I signed up to teach art. I would be so reluctant to shoot; I wouldn’t want to hit a student,” art teacher Justin Frazier said.

Junior Carson Graves feels the full-time school resource officers assigned to VUSD high schools suffice to ensure safety.

“We already have an armed police officer on campus,” Graves said. “I believe that all of the efforts put forth by the president and Congress will strip law abiding citizens of their weapons and will bypass the most problematic issue [which is] unregistered guns being in the wrong hands.”

Junior Ami Ballmer has a different opinion.

“Yes, you have a right to hunt and protect yourself but the Second Amendment says ‘well regulated’ militia. You don’t need huge clips or huge guns to do either of those things,” Ballmer said. “Only when America stops focusing on the shooter will we see real cultural change.”

What do you think?