Do you feel safe at West?


Jada Hallman, Editor-in-Chief

On the night of October 3, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place, sending waves of fear and anxiety throughout the nation as 59 people were brutally killed and hundreds more injured at a country music festival in Las Vegas. The jollity of a concert was instantly replaced by a nightmare that scarred those present and those observing. It was a horrifying event that had impacted the United States, and in the midst of the chaos and grief, we struggle to find answers as to why such an evil act had to take the lives of so many innocent citizens.

It cannot be denied that there is evil in the world and the unfortunate reality of it all is clear: there exists many forms of hatred that fuel these terrorist acts. And although we can live cautiously and be alert of suspicious activity, anxiety is not a bullet-proof vest. What we can do is be informed; these efforts will protect us from an unpredictable future and the dangerous threats that we cannot always escape.

Student resource officer, Graham Hawkinson advises students to remember the protocol “run, hide and fight.” “Run, your life is your priority… sometimes you can’t run, so therefore hide… arm yourself, don’t just hide and wait, start looking around and think ‘I’m getting home.’” He encourages students to never give up the fight, to not give in no matter how dire the circumstances may seem and never lose faith. It is through persistence and strength that we can fend off these terrors and ensure the safety of ourselves and others.

In the event of an active shooter being present on campus, West High administration has trained us to engage in lockdown protocol, where students are ushered into classrooms immediately, doors and windows are locked and noise is discouraged. Students are instructed to remain quiet and out of sight. All televisions, projectors and document cameras should be turned off and the room should be dark and silent. Student cell phone activity is limited to a brief call to parents telling them the school is on lockdown. Most importantly, students are advised to be alert and to remain calm.

Hawkinson also encourages us to communicate with others so we can protect them from dangers as well. We can use social media and other outlets of technology to alert others of threats and to contact those with the resources to prevent these dangers from happening. “That’s why we win. People rise to the occasion,” said Hawkinson. “It truly takes teamwork to defeat people that bring this evil to schools and neighborhoods.” Having so many connections with other students and those in West’s administration provides us with the means to save others in the face of disaster.

“See something, say something,” said Hawkinson. “Trust your gut, your instinct, your inner Jiminy Cricket and let the professionals get on things right away… If something like this were to happen, the whole world would be at West High… Know that we are coming.” It is imperative that students observe their community with a watchful eye and are dedicated to reporting any suspicious activity. Whether it be halfhearted banter, verbal declaration, technologically communicated or questionable behavior, one person speaking out about odd clues that could give the slightest hint to malignant intentions could prevent catastrophe from wreaking havoc at our school and in our community. If you sense any suspicious activity taking place on campus, or have any inclination that danger may be present on campus, do not hesitate to tell campus security, administrative staff or any teacher to bring it to their attention and allow them to respond professionally.

West High’s mission statement promises to “provide all students with a safe, caring and engaging learning environment in preparation for college and careers,” and in order to secure the safety of the students on the campus, it is our job to stay alert and to be informed of how to react responsibly. The safety of West is in our hands, and we are endowed with the duty to guarantee it for students in present and future years to come.