February 21, 2018

Local schools – students’ safety is priority

By Suzanne Werre
Editor
The tragedy that unfolded at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last Wednesday has embroiled the country in debates about gun control, mental illness and bullying in schools. Those issues can be polarizing, and while the administrators at the local schools in Turtle Lake and Underwood may have their own opinions on those issues, they don’t come into play when they’re thinking about their jobs. They just want to make sure nothing like that ever happens at their schools.
They feel confident that local parents can feel safe when sending their kids to school.
“When something like that happens, I start thinking, why? Could it have been prevented – are we missing signs, and I start to analyze it,” said Underwood Dean of Students Toni Cottingham. “You’re never going to be able to prevent all of this, but as far as our school goes, we have a fantastic system – it is like no other Class B School. Nobody is going to enter this school without the office knowing about it.”
Like a lot of schools across the nation, both Underwood and Turtle Lake-Mercer schools have been upgrading their security systems, in large part because of the first major school shooting, the 1999 shooting in Columbine, Colo. when grants started becoming available for schools to increase their security.
Both schools require people to be identified and “buzzed in” before being allowed entrance to the school, and in Underwood people are not allowed to enter the school without first going through the office, which is then locked until they are approved for admittance to any other part of the school. Guests are also required to come to the office at the Turtle Lake-Mercer School before being allowed to go elsewhere in the school as well.


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