Pioneer High School, along with other schools, fights for high safety standards
In light of the mass shooting this past December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which an armed man shot and killed 20 children and six staff members, schools throughout the nation are taking extra precautions to ensure student safety. Pioneer, in particular, is striving to strengthen and enforce policies that were already in place.
Although they are more heavily enforced, Donald Packard, head of the English Department and Trailblazer program adviser, says that the safety policies of the Ann Arbor schools are in no way excessive. “Having more locked doors is a good thing. When we get to retinal scans and everything it will be hard,” he joked. Packard added that many of the elementary schools that Pioneer Trailblazers visit daily have begun requiring students to sign in and wear IDs when they enter the school, a move he says is “no big deal” in light of recent tragic events.
“The elementary school I attend has required Trailblazers (and) all staff to wear picture ID, and have locked certain doors within the front of the school to improve their security and increase the safety of the children within their building,” said Pioneer senior Ryan Kielczewski. He personally encountered an issue when a staff member questioned him about why he wasn’t wearing identification and whether or not he had signed in, which were never before required. “Now, I’m sure I didn’t seem much like a threat as most of the staff members are aware of Trailblazers being in the building,” he says. “It seems like people can never be to sure with even young adults like myself.”
Increased security measures do differ vastly from school to school, however. “Pattengill was the first school that asked us to wear IDs, always,” says Packard. Other Ann Arbor elementary schools such as Lawton have also upped security recently by asking for Trailblazers to wear IDs, while some like Bach have always had locking entrances that require an access code. Other schools, such as Lakewood, have reportedly made little-to-no changes to their security procedures.
Regardless of changes made by the elementary schools, Packard anticipates small adjustments to the Trailblazer program in the coming years. “I think we’ll move towards every student [wearing an] ID,” he said.
Overall, the changes are embraced by most and believed important for maintaining a high safety standard. Packard notes that “the chances of [anything] happening are very slim,” while James says that she does “feel safe” at Pioneer. With efforts to provide a safe and secure school environment in full swing these days, that should come as no surprise.