The Production

PREPARING FOR A LOCKDOWN

Perla Limon and Ahnayah Hughes

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Friday, February 23rd was a bleak day on SCPA’s campus. The classrooms seemed empty, the halls seemed less crowded, and spirits were low. Threats of “the Biggest School Shooting in History” floated around social media for days, listing SCPA as one of its targets. Just a week after the Florida shooting, this threat stunned SCPA students into silence and horror.

 

“I was terrified, considering how close it was to the Parkland High School shooting. I was a loss for words at the time. The first thing I thought of was all of my friends,” says Cathlyn Serrano, a junior at SCPA. Two morning announcements echoed throughout the school, assuring students that the threats weren’t real and that students were safe, but for many, they still couldn’t help but feel afraid at the possibility.

 

“When the threats are pointed at you and your school specifically, it’s really scary. The only thing going through my mind was ‘is this really happening?’” Says senior Cassandra Marcelo. As a result of this widespread and near hysterical fear, many students didn’t come to school, whether it was because of their worried parents, or of their own volition.

 

“My parents told me was that I wasn’t going to school the next day cause they didn’t want anything to happen to me,” says Serrano. Countless other students sent emails or called explaining why they weren’t to attend the following day.

 

But for many, not even staying home alleviated the fear of a school shooting. Serrano says, “It made me feel safer in the sense that I was at home, but it also made me worry more knowing that I had a lot of friends that went to school that day, and I couldn’t be there to know what happened to them.”

 

Marcelo echoed these comments: “I was extremely worried the whole time for my friends. I don’t know what I would’ve done if the threats were real and something were to happen to them. I think I’d feel really guilty.”

 

The effects of the alleged threat were clearly visible, both in the number of students at school, and the mood of the few students that did attend. “50-60% of my students were present, not typical for my class. It was an even day, those tend to be my bigger classes, so you could definitely see the impact,” says Christi Berg, the senior government and economics teacher.



For those who did come to school, many of them were shaken by the rumors. Andrea Pino Antl noted that students seemed distracted and somewhat distraught the whole day. “Kids were leaving school because their parents were taking them out,” she recalls.

 

With such close proximity to the Parkland shooting, the fear and paranoia were warranted. However, students and staff were shocked that a threat like this reached SCPA’s campus. With such a diverse and accepting population, the SCPA community often feels disconnected from the harsher realities other schools face.

 

Marcelo shares, “I think the thing that concerned me the most was that I go to a school full of smart, talented, and hardworking people. I believe we can all get very far in life. It’s scary to think that it only takes one person to come in and ruin all of that.”

 

However, there was another factor that added to the flame and made the fear worse. Asking different people about the last time SCPA has rehearsed a lockdown drill triggered various responses, none of which seemed to correlate with each other. James Sullivan, the martial arts teacher, claimed that the last lockdown drill was two to three years ago. But on the other hand, Berg insists that she cannot even recall the last drill at SCPA. Pino agrees, also confirming that she cannot remember the last time there was a lockdown drill on campus.

 

One thing is clear, lockdown drills are a hazy topic for students and teachers. Since the earliest date we have heard for a previous lockdown drill was two years ago, new students who haven’t had training are unclear on the procedure. “I would not know what to do since I’ve never had training on that. The only thing I know about it is teachers from the time telling me small things I can do to ensure my safety,” says Serrano.

 

In the case of an emergency, according to San Diego Unified’s website, all doors and windows will be locked immediately with students inside. No one is permitted to enter or exit the campus, in order to ensure safety. School administration and local authorities will contact parents and inform them of the situation, and provide updates throughout the lockdown. It’s also unclear how often lockdown drills should be practiced.

 

Berg explains that if we practice too often, students and staff may become indifferent to its importance, “You see students and staff, who have practiced fire drills every year, who don’t take them seriously. We should always behave as if it is real, but the reality is that we don’t because we have more false alarms than actual alarms.”

 

But rather than perpetuating the hysteria, Berg also made the choice to speak to her students logically and to make them aware of the measures in place to protect them, “Unfortunately after incidents you see a lot of increased threats, increased speculation, increased fear. A massive shooting that large in its casualties tends to strike a lot of fear. I feel that it was important to talk to students about who could you contact, like school police, and recognizing that Farson is just one person and probably can’t answer 1,400 student/parent emails.”

 

Regardless of whether this particular conversation with students helped to ease their fears, the school as a whole has bounced back with vigor and motivation. The incident, though emotionally distressing, seems to have pushed students to partake in change. On March 14th, hundreds of SCPA students walked out of classrooms to participate in the 17 minutes of silence for the Parkland Victims. Shortly after, ASB hosted a Peace Demonstration consisting of speeches, memorials, and stations to send letters to Congress.

 

No one should ever be afraid to come to school. During times like this, where the harsh realities of our world penetrate SCPA’s campus, it is important to stay informed, stay vigilant, and stay safe.

Photo Credit: “Empty Class Room” Unaltered Photo by Karen Apricot [Flickr]. Some Rights Reserved. <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/> <https://www.flickr.com/photos/karenapricot>
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About the Writers
Perla Limon, Editor in Chief
Editor-In-Chief for the school year of 2017-2018 Jack of all trades, lover of all writing formats, Perla A. Limon has attended SCPA since 6th grade. She has written for The Production since 2016 and is back for the school year of 2017-2018 as an Editor-in-Chief (EIC) and contributor alongside Ahnayah Hughes, Isaiah Lynch, and Jennifer...
Ahnayah Hughes, Editor-in-Chief
Editor-In-Chief for the school year of 2017-2018 Somewhat of an introvert, Ahnayah Hughes has always preferred the written word; allowing her to speak her mind without actually speaking. However, her involvement in SCPA’s creative writing and journalism courses have brought her out of her shell, and she no longer hides her feelings towards issues of...
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PREPARING FOR A LOCKDOWN