By Emma Jo Hirschy, Aviator editor-in-chief
After numerous attacks on schools have been imposed across the nation, the De Pere School District started an initiative to better educate both students and staff on what to do if an active shooter is on campus.
On October 27, the De Pere High School staff participated in an active intruder training called ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate).
According to Ben Villarruel, the De Pere Superintendent, the program provided staff with tools for in the event of an intruder, such as options to help keep themselves and students safe.
In the case of a lockdown, the ALICE training taught staff that they will be faced with tough questions to answer. With the information given through the speakers, they must determine if leaving the building or if barricading the classroom doors shut and hiding are the right decisions in order to keep everyone safe.
“There is no simple answer as to what they need to do,” said Villarruel. “Based on the information you may have, you have to make decisions according to it.”
Although the training consisted of a powerpoint presentation and a small exam at the end of it, there was also the interactive portion of the training which involved airsoft guns. Villarruel affirmed that staff who participated were shot at in order to give them a simulation as to what may happen if an intruder is in the building.
“It was just to kind of shock us and scare us,” DPHS math teacher Mrs. Turriff said. “We had to put on face gear to protect our eyes so we had helmets on and we had masks on. They had asked us to wear turtle necks, long sleeves, long pants, and jeans. Then we were told to act natural.”
Said Villarruel: “It was like a science unit. You can read about how a certain chemical reacts, but when you do it, you learn some insight. While there were airsoft guns, that wasn’t the real power of it. The power of it was to utilize some of the concepts that they learned to practice them.”
Turriff explained that in the first scenario, they were asked to do what they normally would, which was to shut off the lights, to close the door, to huddle in a corner, and to be quiet. In this simulation, Turriff played the role of the teacher.
“I was trying to huddle my whole class and protect them. When the shooter came in, he just started pegging us,” she exclaimed. “I was nailed on the leg and it actually made me bleed.” By the end of the first scenario, Turriff mentioned that 95 percent of the teachers were hit, and most of them would have died if it were real.
Also, part of the interactive piece of the training included getting out of the building, determining which exit to go out of, and barricading doorways.
“Then they told us that we could run,” Turriff said. “But for that one, we couldn’t fight back. Then we had to barricade the door and try to make it so the shooter could not get in. It was very interesting because as each one that we went through, the number of people that got hurt went down. It was very empowering to see that if you just sit there like a sitting duck, yeah something bad will happen. But if you do something and you are proactive, there are greater chances of you surviving.”
In the future, the De Pere School District plans on training students for in the event of an intruder.
“I don’t think they will go through the kind of training that staff did, but it will be appropriate,” Villarruel continued. “We will communicate the concepts that we want our kids to learn. Like in a fire drill, we practice certain things. So for a lockdown, we will highlight important concepts and practice those.”
The following Monday, October 31, the DPHS staff were put to the test.
During students’ fourth hour class, a fight broke out in a physical education class outside. The two unidentified individuals ended up falling out to the parking lot, which led to Merrill Street. A lockdown was issued in order to insure that the altercation would not further into the school building.
Staff were able to perform some of the techniques they learned during the training; some even barricaded doors shut.
Villarruel divulged that there were a few things that the staff as a whole would need to improve on for lockdowns. Other than that, he was unable to disclose any other information of the lockdown.