By Nicholas Dal Porto & Bradley Kishiyama
Yes. It happened again.
For the second time in three school days, students and staff at Design Tech High School were once again graced with the shrill wail of the lockdown alarm and the drone of the annunciating voice. Students were prepared; they had been through this twice before. And in keeping with Friday’s theme, it happened during 4th period classes.
Students quickly jumped into action, closing blinds and throwing tables with a similar voracity to Friday’s incident. Barricades were markedly improved compared to previous drills as classroom occupants drew from their now vast experience with such arrangements.
This time there was no alarm man to mistakenly cross some wires in an elevator shaft. There was no scheduled maintenance and no forewarned drill. This took everyone, including school administration, by surprise. Several calls were made to emergency services by students, staff, and parents caused police mounted an immense armed response, expecting the worst.
Numerous members of the police department swept through the building, sequentially opening all of the rooms, checking for anything resembling a threat. While this was happening, classes continued to shelter in place. During the process, a large contingent of students were discovered in the 100 and 500 buildings at Oracle after following the “Run, Hide, Fight” doctrine that was now second nature to them.
Many students, however, felt the opposite and didn’t treat it as seriously, especially compared to the last incident. “It shut down early so I knew it was a drill. Also Hanan [in the office] didn’t looked panicked. It was more annoying than scary.” Arthur Yu said. In the first floor of the DRG, after going through the routine of blocking doors and closing window shades, students were attempting to be quiet, but many conversations were held. Near the end of the lockdown, a fort was being built, some students were playing on their phones, and a couple people were even casually watching Netflix.
Contrary to the DRG, Ms. Anderson’s room (Room 230) thought the lockdown was completely real. “Everyone was sitting in the back of the room with the tables up. There was no movement. It was silent for the entire time,” Amit Harlev claimed.
After the building had been cleared, two mass community meetings were held, divided by grade (9-10, 11-12). At a sobering meeting for 11-12th grade students, Dr. Montgomery explained the series of events, and answered numerous questions from tense students. Some, like James Abraham, demanded answers, claiming that these false alarms are “unacceptable” and pressed Montgomery for an idea of when the issues would be resolved. In one heartfelt moment, a student asked what would happen if a teacher asked to open the room. In explaining that doors should never be opened for anyone, Montgomery wearily added that if held at gunpoint “I’m not gonna open the door.”
All this confusion and clamor has left its mark on the student body. Many a student were trembling after the incident, adrenaline coursing through their veins, rightfully concerned and upset for the second time in two weeks. Others begged a simple but distressing question: how are students and staff supposed to know what alarms are real and what alarms aren’t? If the time came, would students be watching Netflix and using Snapchat like in the DRG, or would they be motionless and silent like in Ms. Anderson’s room? At which point do those involved make the conscious decision to not take lockdowns seriously?
Weighting all of this, it becomes apparent that a sense of constant vigilance is warranted in circumstances such as these. Hopefully with prompt action by the school this will be the last of the Design Tech lockdowns.