By: Carson Burtron
Four years ago, the Lebanon Community School Corporation has invested in a School Resource Officers program that prioritizes the safety of students, facility, and visitors. This past year, the corporation added five new SRO’s and replaced Officer Hendrix with Officer Richy at the high school. Hendrix is now Lebanon’s truancy officer, showing up at students’ houses and checking in on them and why they are not at school. With the random acts of violence occurring in school’s all across the nation over the past couple of years, Lebanon High School is taking action to prevent any tragedies from happening.
The high school has added a single point entry where all doors are locked and secured throughout school hours. Visitors can only come in through the front office after they push a button, present their name, and reason for entry outside the office doors. The school is also eager to revising all their protocols and drills.
“We’ve got another barrier after that,” said Mr. Reynolds. “You cannot get in that second set of doors no matter what without going through the main office. You go through the office and get checked in so nobody can just walk right in the building where the students are.”
Every Indiana Public School features metal detectors at the main entrance of their schools. That is not the case at Lebanon High School.
“It is more of a corporation decision. The state did give us two wands that Officer Abbott can use with reasonable suspicion,” said Reynolds.
Principal Kevin O’Rourke holds a strong opinion that he doesn’t feel metal detectors are necessary.
“If you have a long line outside of your building, think of an airport,” said O’Rourke. “The line itself is a target for anyone to come up and open fire on students. If the school was not safe, I would not be here every day.”
While Reynolds tends to be more informed on the “hardware” safety tools, O’Rourke believes it is the “software” in the school that matters the most.
“The thing that we stress is that students have the biggest say on how they make each other feel. If you want to have a peaceful building, then always treat each other with dignity and respect,” said O’Rourke. “We encourage students to realize the control they have on other students. Encourage people when they see or hear something to speak up.”
Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evaluate Training is a program that the school has invested in to teach facility and students how to respond in times of violence or danger that threatens the school.
“The big thing is to make sure everyone knows how to react and to just use common sense. We need to get kids thinking that if they can escape and run then do so. If not, the program teaches us how we need to get away from the violence if you can. If not, barricade and hide yourself. But if you’re right in harm’s way, don’t coward down. Throw books, desks, whatever,” said O’Rourke.