RV junior high students practice safe schools drill

| October 16, 2015

WARSAW – Students used to just have fire and tornado drills at school, but now they also have to practice what to do if a shooter is in the building.

River View Junior High School held a Safe Schools Drill on Oct. 15 and Principal Jerry Olinger was pretty pleased with how the students reacted.

“You did what we asked,” he said while addressing the students after the drill. “You have to be quiet (when we are locked down) and I never heard one person.”

Olinger explained to parents who were invited to watch the drill that students used to be taught to hunker down and wait for law enforcement if a shooter was in their building, but that is no longer the case.

“Most school shootings happen in three minutes or less and out here it would take law enforcement at least 15 minutes to get here,” Olinger said. “Our objective is to do what we need to do until law enforcement gets here.”

The new approach to dealing with a shooter is called Alice. The acronym stands for alert, lock down, inform, counter and evacuate.

“Any adult in this building can call 911 right away if they see a gun,” Olinger said.

The school will then be locked down and the staff will communicate with each other to work the students out of the building. Once they get out they will put as much distance as they can between themselves and the shooter and meet at a designated rallying point. However, while they are waiting for their opportunity to get out of the school they will not be sitting ducks hiding in corners or under desks.

“If an intruder comes into their room they will be prepared to fight back,” Olinger said. “If 25 kids are throwing rocks at you, you aren’t going to stand and face that. Statistics show that if a gunman comes into a room and the students are sitting ducks his accuracy is 75 to 80 percent, but it’s only 15 percent if they are throwing things at him and causing chaos. It’s all about survival until law enforcement gets here.”

All of the teachers have buckets in their rooms with rocks the size of golf balls and wasp spray that they are prepared to use if necessary.

“The objective is to hide, go when you can and if encountered fight,” Olinger said.

After the drill the students and staff members met up at the football field and Olinger and Assistant Principal Brad Baker told them what they did well, what they needed to work on and took questions from them.

“I rattled those doors harder than I ever have and looked under the posters teachers have on their doors and didn’t see anyone,” Baker said to the students.

During the drill all 350 students disappeared within 15 to 20 seconds of the lockdown being announced and the school was silent while they waited for instructions from adults.

“When law enforcement gets here we will listen to them, but what we do in those three minutes a shooting takes will save us all,” Olinger said. “I can’t answer all the what if questions, but what I can tell you to do is put as much distance between yourselves and bad man as you can.”

Parents were invited to watch the drill and Monique Dobson and Chrissy Bryant were glad they came.

“If something like this would happen it’s nice to know where they are going and what they are doing to protect them,” Bryant said.

Both Bryant and Dobson have children in the seventh grade.

“No place is perfectly safe so it’s nice to see what’s going on here and steps that would be taken if something happened,” Dobson said.

This was the junior high’s second safe schools drill of the year and they are required to have at least two more.

Olinger ended the drill by encouraging the students to come talk to himself, Baker or another staff member if they hear a rumor or feel something isn’t right.

“If something is truly wrong Mr. Baker will figure it out within minutes,” Olinger said. “He’s that good.”

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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