Students and faculty at HHS are all adjusting to the safety plan put into place following the tragic incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The plan strives to maintain a safe environment in the high school.
Following the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, schools across the country, including HHS, began to enforce new precautionary measures to ensure that something like that would never occur again. Some schools now have armed security guards to protect their children. Hawthorne has taken a different approach.
Some of the precautions have always been in the school handbook, but are now being carefully enforced. This includes the rule that says students cannot carry backpacks, gym bags, or large pocketbooks in the halls or in classrooms. “There is no reason why the students should have to carry those around during school hours,” Barry Cohen, HHS principal said. “That’s what their lockers are for.”
In addition there is a new safety rule. Students cannot wear coats or jackets in the classrooms. The administration has stated that large coats and jackets can conceal weapons and other potentially harmful items. Students can wear pullover sweatshirts and sweat jackets, just no full “zip ups.”
The safety plan also includes new rules about entering and exiting the building. During open-lunch, seniors are allowed to enter and exit only through the cafeteria doors in the back of the school (although in bad weather, they will be allowed to use the front door that may be closer to their cars). Guests and visitors must now enter only through the front door of the school and must present photo ID and sign in with the door monitor (who is now always on duty). “The less doors that people use,” said Cohen, “the less likely it is for an uninvited guest to enter our school. Our goal is to use as few doors as possible and to keep our students and faculty safe.”
And finally, the working hours of the school’s security staff have been expanded. One of the three security people will now be in the building an hour earlier in the morning and one of them will stay later, until 4:00 each afternoon.
Students have had to change their ways and follow these rules to improve the safety of the school. Renee Buchanan, an HHS senior, has had some trouble with the new laws. “It’s been tough having to use a smaller purse and having less of my belongings with me,” Buchanan said. “Even though it is a hassle, I understand that all of these changes are for our safety and I support it.”