This is a Drill, Not a Joke

Participants+practice+an+active+shooter+drill+at+Harry+S.+Truman+High+School+in+Levittown%2C+Pennsylvania.

Jewel Samad- AFP/Getty Images

Participants practice an active shooter drill at Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

“This is a drill. This is only a drill. There is an intruder in the west wing of the building. This is a drill. This is only a drill,” the voice over the intercom spoke as I heard doors closing throughout the science wing of the school. This was my first intruder drill in high school. My stomach sank. I still hadn’t quite known my way around the place. My teacher at the time went on to close the door and lock it, covering the window with a piece of black paper. After that, he went and sat back down at his desk and directed us to hide under our desks. Once we were all settled, we were then instructed to take out our notebooks and take notes on the video we were planning to start before the drill happened. We were literally taking notes while hiding underneath our seats. As if I hadn’t felt clueless before, this made it worse. Instead of treating it like it was the real thing, we just continued on with class as if we couldn’t hear the pounding footsteps down the hallway as students evacuated the building.

In a CBS news article about gun ownership, Wyoming ranks 5th with 53.8 percent of the population owning a gun. Now, this might mean kids have more of an understanding of how powerful a gun is, but it could also mean if anyone wanted to bring a gun to school, it wouldn’t be very hard to find one. When a teacher isn’t going through the right procedure when the school has an intruder drill, it leaves the students clueless.

Teachers all have different courses of action during intruder drills, but they all originally come from the same three practices. The first one is the teacher who locks the door, turns off the lights and continues with teaching. These teachers are the worst to be with but also the most uncommon. The next type of teacher is the one who takes drills seriously, but never evacuates with students. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is the route most teachers will take. The last type of teacher is the one who wants to get the whole class out of the building. They’ll take all the normal safety precautions. When they know the coast is clear, we are out of the building and across the street faster than the speed of light. Sometimes we might get ‘killed’ by McFadden wearing a wig as if he was Ariel from The Little Mermaid, but after it will leave us feeling assured we’ll be safe under that teacher’s care.

 According to a Washington Post article entitled “Eighteen years of gun violence in U.S. schools, mapped” from 2018, there has been at least one school shooting in 43 states since 2000. Wyoming is one of the seven states that hasn’t had one thankfully enough. Just because there hasn’t been a school shooting in Wyoming, doesn’t take away the threat that it could happen. Take Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It’s a very nice, put together school. No one would ever look at it and think a school shooting would happen there. Most shootings happen when least expected, so being able to know what to do in a situation like that is a key part in keeping yourself and others safe. 

During an active shooter drills, teachers are supposed to secure students safely in their rooms and wait for information on the shooter’s location. They are asked then to assess whether getting out of the building is feasible based on where the shooter is located. Say for instance the shooter is located near the activities office. A teacher in a classroom farthest away from the shooter is encouraged to get students out of the building. A teacher closest to the shooter should theoretically stay in their classroom, taking every means possible to keep a shooter from entering the classroom.  

When a teacher isn’t using the right safety precautions, the ones required by ALICE training, or totally disregarding the drill, it puts students and staff at great risk. The school needs to make sure every teacher takes all the drills seriously, properly preparing everyone for the worst situation.