On February 14, the quiet community of Parkland, Florida was shaken awake as a 19-year-old gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and open fired on staff and students, killing seventeen, including a gym teacher and the school resource officer. As the nation mourns for those lives lost, questions have been raised by students and parents concerning the safety of Northland Pines Middle and High School.
“The tragedy in Florida has not really impacted our safety procedures,” said Northland Pines High School principal, Scott Foster. Following the shooting, the Administrative Team and the school’s resource officer, Deputy Eric Neff, met to review procedure and see if there is anything that they could learn from. “We are in constant reflection on how we can improve.”
When asked how Northland Pines is being proactive to eliminate an active shooter situation, Mr. Foster answered that it is important to take as many preventative steps as possible. At the beginning of the school year, all district staff participated in the nationally recognized active shooter prevention program, A.L.I.C.E.. Other preventative measures include locking all doors, mandatory background checks on visitors, security cameras, having a school resource officer and many other items that could not be shared at the moment.
Perhaps the most important safety measures focus on the needs of the students themselves. While Northland Pines is “dedicated to empowering all individuals to reach their potential”, it is also important to make school a positive place where kids can ask for help when and where needed and that will make our school a safer place. The best way to stop or deter is to have someone report a concern and then school and law enforcement will address the concerns. “It is better to be wrong than to not report”.
On March 14, students all across the country will walk out of school at 10:00 am for seventeen minutes in honor of the seventeen lives lost in Florida. Although Northland Pines staff and students will have the opportunity to participate at their own free will, Josie Falcetta, a Northland Pines Junior feels that it would be “important to stand with Parkland and show solidarity that way. It’s devastating to think that a school is no longer a safe place for our kids. If we work together, we can make it a whole lot safer.”