While students have had to adapt to the new changes like lunches, passing periods, or tardy schedules, perhaps the largest has been the newest measure added to daily life: Security.
Students in the past few weeks, were called in by grade level to the auditorium for yet another assembly. However, this time, it wasn’t orientation or anything of the sort – It was in an effort to make the school safer with a brand-new app and security measures.
“Part of the plan that we’re following – in order to better secure the school – we’re following the guide lines that were issued by the United States secret service.” said Principal Hagman. “There are eight guidelines and so we are addressing each of those eight.”
The eight Homeland Security/Secret Service issued guidelines are meant to provide various aspects of safety and how to best execute them. The measures go as followed:
“Step 1. Establish a multidisciplinary threat assessment team.
Step 2. Define concerning and prohibited behaviors.
Step 3. Create a central reporting mechanism
Step 4. Determine the threshold for law enforcement intervention
Step 5. Establish assessment procedures
Step 6. Develop risk management options
Step 7. Create and promote safe school climates
Step 8. Conduct training for all stakeholders.”
While that may seem frightening or complicated, it boils down to a simply step-by-step procedure of simply taking the correct and appropriate precautions to handling potentially dangerous situations. This is used through a group of qualified administrators and a way for others to report the worrying behavior. This is where the STOPit app comes in handy.
“So, one of the big ones is providing a mechanism in which students can anonymously report when there are issues that they’re aware of,” said Hagman. “For instance, if someone were to be threatening physical violence, suicide, or if they’re being bullied. So, it’s an online application that we’ll share with students.
The STOPit app was inspired by the tragic story of Amanda Todd, and it was created in order to prevent future tragedies. It’s simplistic but useful in more than enough situations, and allows teachers and administrators to intervene and help those in need who may lash out otherwise.
“It is a comfortable platform to report cyberbullying. Students can capture the evidence and send it to trusted adults such as the principal or school cyberbullying expert,” said creator Todd Schobel. “It is an application that empowers the future to make a difference today.”
The effort placed forward in order to help students and promote a safer environment is clear from administrators. And now, students have the chance to act towards that common goal as well.
“So, let’s say that a student utilized the app to report that another student had made remarks about bringing a weapon to school,” said Hagman. “The report comes through on the app, which has feature so that we can have a conversation and gain more information to learn more identifying characteristics about the person. Then we would locate the individual through security cameras or whatever mechanism we’d need in order to find them. Then we’d question them and find out what’s going on, talk with parents, and if the report involved the possible use of a weapon we would talk with parents and the individual about access to a weapon. We’d also involve a counselor to work with the individual to find out what’s the underlying issue and how we can help them. And if the issue was legitimate of course law enforcement would be involved, it just depends.”
Students have taken to it by downloading the app, and keeping it with them in case of any emergency. Though fortunately, nothing has come up as of yet.
“I appreciate the faculty’s initiative to have more security measures in our school,” said junior Subarna Mandal. “I don’t know if anyone has actually used the app, but it’s nice to know it’s there for us.”
The code for students to enter is even placed throughout the school, giving opportunities to students to speak out and help make the school a better, safer place.
“We want you to have a wonderful experience at Lamar,” said Hagman. “And part of that wonderful experience is providing the safest environment we can.”