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The Homewood Tricorne

The Homewood Tricorne

The Student News Site of Homewood High School

The Homewood Tricorne

Student safety emphasized in new protocols

Student+safety+emphasized+in+new+protocols

Russell Dearing and Megan Mahon

In the face of gun violence, schools in the United States have been forced to reevaluate their safety protocols. Homewood High School is no exception.

HHS highly values the safety and well being of its students and, like many other schools, has chosen to implement and amplify new safety measures for students to be as secure and comfortable as possible.

Despite these updates, many students are unaware of recent alterations to Homewood’s security protocols. Senior Getsey Mendez mentioned that she feels “pretty safe” at Homewood and is comfortable with normal amounts of security, as compared to schools with more extreme measures, such as metal detectors and clear backpacks. She, along with many other students, said she does not know of any recent safety changes to the school.

As school shootings have become more common, some students are beginning to question how they will react in times of threat.

Senior Michelle Kagwima said school shootings have “taught [her] to be more aware and cautious,” as well as encouraged her to “keep up [her] guard.” Kagwima said she feels safe at HHS, but understands the necessity for more secure safety measures to be implemented.

She said she has only noticed the choir room doors have been locked since the last semester of the past school year.

Additionally, junior Mary Ryan Hughes notes she is now more mindful of a contingency plan in case of an on-campus threat. She noticed locked doors at the show choir and auditorium entrances.

There is an extent to which certain information concerning student safety and security has to be kept confidential. Although, in times of panic and distress, communication with all ends of the community is key. Homewood Faculty is working toward finding the perfect amount of information to share so students and parents have all of the tools they need to stay safe.

Many of the changes to Homewood’s protocols are directly from the school’s newest assistant principal, Ganae Gaines, who has many years of experience in school safety.

Gaines wasted no time over the summer making several small, but noticeable changes on campus in the interest of student safety.

My goal is to take care of students, and that we all go home to our families at the end of the day.”

— Ganea Gaines

She added that there are not a ton of significant changes made, rather an increase of the enforcement of pre-existing rules. She noted harsher punishments on teachers and students who leave doors propped open as well as posted signs around the building indicating other changes, the most important of which is the abolition of the “code” system.

Safety procedure outlines

To elaborate on this, Gaines explained that there will no longer be tiers for the severity of emergencies, stating, “If there is truly a lockdown about to happen, we no longer say code red. We go straight into lockdown.”

She also mentioned other new protocols, as pictured below.

Gaines explained that her goal is for faculty and students to be able to see these brochures across the school and familiarize themselves with the information. Gaines also said that practice with these new procedures is on the horizon.

In addition to the information brochures are maps with red lines drawn throughout the campus outlining paths to the nearest exit based on an individual’s location. These are a part of Gaines’ new “wayfinding” system, which aims to provide students, but more importantly visitors, “an easier way… to come to our school and know where things are as well as exits if necessary.”

Gaines went on to assure that, even if there were to be an unwelcome presence near campus, HHS specifically is in good hands. “Every school in the state is required to have a student resource officer on hand, but we are lucky enough to have two.”

We are “very thankful for outside resources,” she emphasized, “mainly Homewood Police Department” for all the help they are willing to provide.

Student’s displeasure with the limited points of entry in the morning has not been lost on Gaines, especially with the closure of side doors near student parking. However, she feels it is a “very necessary” part of the safety protocol to ensure the main entrances are being monitored full-time.

When all is said and done, Gaines said she feels very safe and comfortable coming to work with these changes in place. “I am confident in what I know about what we should be doing and enforcing and being able to teach that to our teachers and staff.”

This sentiment is shared with HHS secretary Jelyn Hunter, who adds that she has noticed the security changes and is very pleased. She notes the regular officer patrol, frequent faculty meetings, and the addition of new exit signs as protocols for which she is most appreciative.

While some of these changes may bring discomfort upfront, Gaines, as well as many other faculty and staff, hope that these changes prevent any tragic events from affecting HHS in the future and provide a safe, proper learning environment, something she holds as her top priority.

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Student safety emphasized in new protocols