Intruder drills held at Region 8 schools to keep kids safe

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - From fires to tornadoes, Region eight teachers and students participate in various drills all year long.  Some schools are also preparing their students for another type of threat: intruders.

Over the past ten years the way schools train students for danger has changed.  At Nettleton Public Schools students, teachers and staff are trained in what to do during a "lockdown".  That could mean everything from a medical emergency to an intruder in the building.

Every day kids walk through the hallways of Nettleton Junior High School not even thinking about their own safety.

"It used to be that schools were the safest places you could be and now we have to be like the rest of the world.  We have to make sure we take care of our children," said Nettleton Crisis Coordinator Linda Speer Graham.

"Safety seems to be an illusion.  We all think we're safe all the time but actually no one is safe.  We've had to come up with a complicated plan that covers everybody all the time," said school counselor Sharman Bell.

Graham, Bell, and Security Director Jack Sample are part of the crisis team at Nettleton, a team every member of the staff is a part of.  They don't just do fire, tornado, and earthquake drills here.  They participate in something they call "lockdown" drills too.  These drills are something they say is necessary.

"We lost our innocence many years ago.  Columbine, Paducah, and here in Jonesboro," said Speer Graham.

The schools share a school resource officer who also serves as a direct line to the police department.  All doors except one at most Nettleton Schools stay locked and there are different levels of protection at any entry way to protect students.

"Our unofficial motto in the Nettleton School District is learning first, safety always.  It's always at the back of our mind and sometimes in the foreground," said Speer Graham.

"It just takes somebody noticing one thing that can really help us out as administrators and staff around here to control the situation," said Sample.

Students, teachers, and staff already know what to do during a drill or actual emergency situation.  Starting next week at Nettleton Junior High 28 students are going to start receiving training so they know how to help.

"Basically we tell the kids to stay in the classroom and you find any students in the hall and get them to a safe place," said Sample.

"If kids understand why you're doing something they're going to be fine with it," said Speer Graham.

Anytime something bad happens across the country this team re-examines their plan looking for ways to make it better.

©2009 KAIT 
 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.