Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School will be locked down as part of a safety drill Oct. 17. Students, faculty and staff will implement a new plan designed to protect them in the event of an emergency at the building.
Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School will be locked down as part of a safety drill Oct. 17.
Students, faculty and staff will implement a new plan designed to protect them in the event of an emergency at the building.
“It’s basically the opposite of a fire drill,” John Donohue, principal, said of the drill. “In a fire drill you get everyone out of the building as quickly as possible. In a lock down we move everyone to a secure location inside as quickly as possible.”
The drill will be the first time the Ticonderoga school district’s new safety program will be tested. The plan was developed, with help from local police and others, following last year’s Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut.
Ticonderoga police and other law enforcement agencies will take part in the Oct. 17 lock down drill.
“We have been working with the school district on updating their emergency action plans,” Ticonderoga Police Chief Mark Johns said. “We have also met with the local (North Country) community college and parochial school (St. Mary’s). It is very important for law enforcement officers to know and understand the steps these facilities will take in the event of an emergency. This knowledge allows the law enforcement officers who may need to respond to an incident to handle that emergency situation quicker and more efficiently.
“The primary reason for having representatives from the Ticonderoga Police Department and other law enforcement agencies present during the drill on the 17th is to enhance our own officer training,” Johns said. “Our presence also gives law enforcement professionals an opportunity to see the school’s plan in action and allows us to provide feedback to the district if we observe anything which could interfere with a police response in an emergency.”
Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School is an open school; most classrooms do not have doors. The safety plan has identified secure areas in the building, though, to shelter students in the event of an emergency.
“We have identified secure areas,” Donohue said. “Students will be instructed what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency.”
Before the actual drill Oct. 17, students will be brought together for an assembly, where the plan and the day’s activities will be explained. Following the assembly students will return to their classrooms, where teachers will give further instruction and answer questions.
Students will then take part in the drill, which is expected to take 10-15 minutes.
A second assembly will then be held with students to review the drill.
The school district has sent a letter to parents outlining the drill and the day’s activities.
Donohue hopes the drill accomplishes several goals. One is to prepare for an emergency. Another is to remind students they are safe in school.
“We want to reassure our students they are safe here,” the principal said. “School violence is a difficult subject, especially for younger children. You have to be very careful how you explain things to a first or second grader.”
Donohue said school officials don’t want to alarm students.
“Children are going to hear about violence and other school incidents on the news and from others,” he said. “We want them to understand these are very isolated incidents and we’re here to protect them.”
While the new emergency plan was prompted by the Sandy Hook shootings, Donohue said it addresses all sorts of potential emergencies.
“We’re not just preparing for the worst case scenario, we’re preparing for all emergencies,” he said. “There could be a medical emergency where we have to quickly clear the halls of students. This plan could be helpful in a number of scenarios.”
Donohue urged parents with concerns or questions about the drill or the emergency plan to contact him at the school. His phone number is 585-7400 ext. 2218 and his Email is firstname.lastname@example.org