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My View: Training, not technology, will save lives

Much of the $482 million bond passed to “modernize” high schools in the Portland area has been designated for seismic upgrades.

However, it also is an opportunity to upgrade security systems. Portland Public Schools could learn a lesson about modern security systems from the Oregon Trail School District, which recently built a new $114 million high school.

A $114 million school comes with many gadgets and technologies that make the school secure, but does that give the students full peace of mind that they are safe?

The new Sandy High School opened in 2012. We went from a school where part of the building was more than 80 years old and had more than 50 entrances, to a school with the highest technology available to ensure students’ safety.

At the new Sandy High School building, there are many safety features in place that were not available at the old facility. We have numerous security cameras, inside and outside, which monitor the property 24/7. During school hours the only way into the building, for students and visitors, is through one unlocked door that leads through the attendance office.

All of these security procedures and gadgets definitely increase the sense of security. Despite this, for the average teen, the threat of a gunman still lingers in the back of their mind.

Throughout elementary and middle school, we did lockdown drills to practice what we would do if there was a threat on the school campus. When they matriculated to high school, many students disregarded these drills and continued to work on the computer or finish a math problem, not really considering the possibility that one day these procedures might be useful.

Last school year, shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, a rumor was spread on social media of an impending shooting at Sandy High. On that date, many students were terrified and almost a third of the enrollment stayed home.

School was different that day. The normal chatter of students wasn’t there in full force; instead they talked about what might happen during the course of the school day. Police officers roamed the halls, many students avoided lunch, and other students skipped school entirely.

Up to this point no one worried about a shooting. Sure, it was something that could possibly happen, but one thing was said and we had 1,300 students panicked about whether they should skip school or risk their lives.

In the end, the day passed without anything happening, but this brought up a good discussion: If there were a gunman on campus, what would happen?

Obviously, the school would go into lockdown, and teachers would secure the classroom doors and pull the blinds down on the windows. But what if the shooter came to one of the classrooms and tried getting in?

When this question was raised, my teacher replied with a simple, yet impactful answer, “I would do whatever I could to keep you guys safe.” He said that if that meant risking his life, he would do it because his job isn’t only to educate us, but to keep us safe.

Recently, staff at Sandy High received training on how to disarm a gunman. They were told the preferable options are first to run, second to hide, but if those fail, to fight back. This is a departure from the previous strategy of hiding and hoping the good guys would show up before the bad guys did any harm.

While the odds of having the school that I attend have an “active shooter” on campus are very unlikely, the thought that it might happen looms in the back of my mind. While the modern facility helps, I know that it will be a well-trained staff and student body that will make the difference in life or death.

Ana Glazier is a senior at Sandy High School.