Students voice concerns about school safety

Even with new security features in place at school, some students still think about safety.


Graphic courtesy of Sophie Fenton

Using a copyright-free template from Canva, Sophie Fenton created a graphic to highlight the results of an anonymous survey of students.

By Sophie Fenton, Staff Writer

Story originally published in the November 2019 edition of The Paw, our quarterly magazine.

     Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Santa Fe High School in Texas., Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana. These are the most publicized examples of schools around the United States that were met with gun violence in 2018.

     As gun violence in American schools becomes more prominent and lockdowns become part of standard safety practice, so does the amount of anxiety and fear in some Tigard staff and students. Due to this newfound fear, many within the school have changed both their mentalities and their routines to increase personal safety while on school grounds. 

     At the end of the last school year, Tigard was introduced to what are called “Murray Buckets.” These five gallon buckets are one of World History teacher Murray Carlisle’s ideas to prepare Tigard in case of an emergency. In these buckets you will find a first aid kit and toilet paper, as the buckets conveniently double as a place to use the bathroom during long lockdowns. Carlisle has been one of those who has become more anxious over the issue of gun violence in school settings. 

     “As a parent, as a teacher, I think about it happening here; I think about it happening at my daughter’s elementary school,” Carlisle said.

     This thought of “will it happen here” is not uncommon. Often, this question is coupled with the additionally terrifying thought of “when will it happen here?” While it may be sad, this has become the reality that many students face. Junior Christina Andreas knows these thoughts all too well. 

     “I always have the thought in the back of my mind, ‘Is it going to happen to us today?’” Andreas said, “I have even made [escape] plans for myself in each of my classes and at lunch.”

     Andreas believes that the new safety measures at Tigard may be helpful, they aren’t enough for peace of mind.

     “School shootings aren’t something you can predict or truly prepare for. Even if you do prepare, it isn’t going to help in the moment and that is the scary part,” Andreas added. 

     Along with preparation, comes the uncertainty to some students about how effective the drills we participate in truly are. Junior Logan Tunsall is concerned about the legitimacy behind said lockdown/ lockin drills. 

     “Usually school shootings are done by students so they would know all of the procedures. This makes them useless and potentially more dangerous,” Tunsall said. 

     Tunsall thinks a good way to combat these uncertainties is more awareness and conversation about dangerous people and events in our community. One student who agrees with Tunsull on this idea of awareness is Junior Noah Hofmann, who believes rumors and undiscussed threats are a main cause of panic and fear within students. 

     “Tigard could improve on keeping more students aware about these issues,” Hofmann said, “Also, when there is a threat, [Tigard should be] letting students know so they don’t hear from peers and start to freak out thinking the staff is ignoring the issue.” 

     Hofmann is amongst those students who dreads going to school for fear of those with bad intentions. But, measures are being taken in hopes of eliminating these negative emotions according to Principal Brian Bailey.

     “Our hope is that preparation is creating more of a peace of mind.” Bailey said. “We know that when we think about these kind of emergencies they raise the anxiety of everybody that’s involved.” 

     Bailey puts a strong emphasis on preparation and drills, so if there were to ever be a shooting at Tigard, all students and staff would know how to properly respond. Bailey recognizes and sympathizes with all of those who feel fear while entering school. 

     “I’m not afraid of that [a school shooting] happening, but I am aware of the possibility,” Bailey added. “I worry that if something were to happen, have they [the students] been properly trained?”

     The school shooting epidemic and its effects on students and staff have the possibility of plaguing Americans for years to come. While there is no clear solution to the current issue, preparation and proper training is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Things such as drills and emergency items in classrooms can help ease some fears in those who are worried about this issue. As the years go by, all we can do is hope and train for a safer, more peaceful future.