SHS school shooter simulation heightens student and staff emotions

By Savannah Baird

Emotions can often be shifted by many things, very easily. Fear can be one of the most heightened emotions a person goes through. Though some laugh in the face of fear, some of those who don’t fight the feeling succumb to it and even cry. On Sept. 13, 2018 Scott County District 2 was on lockdown drill, as Scottsburg High School had its fear tested by a live shooter drill. The students were warned ahead of time that the drill was coming, but all they knew was the day. Sept. 13 was all the information they got other than, there will be an intruder with a gun, and drama club members will be acting as victims.

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Kaitlinne Moldero (11) and Tanner Visetchaisri (11) both acted as victims. Shown are their victim tags for showing where they were injured. Once an ems member tagged them they got a band around their arm showing if they were dead of not. For example Moldero (11) was marked with a black band, because she was dead in the drill.

Kesli Holbrook (11) was one of the student actors playing as a victim. She states that she was shot in the crosswalk between the junior and senior hallways. Her profile was a victim with a wrist injury and a twisted ankle. From there, she crawled to Mr. Robert Deirth, Mrs. Tamah DePriest and later Mr. Jason Bagwell’s classrooms banging on the doors and calling for help. IMG_20180913_111122

“I didn’t think I was gonna cry, but then he (the shooter) came around the corner and pulled a gun on me. I had a full blown panic attack, even though he was holding a bright green squirt gun. It was very scary,” said Holbrook.

Mr. Jacob Johanningsmeier, New Tech Principal, was very pleased with the outcome of the the drill and how well the teachers followed the plan. As far as how much knowledge he had on the situation, the amount of details staff had were limited. Johanningsmeier said that they purposely left people in the dark to make it as realistic as possible.

He also gave praise to the drama volunteers, “The actors made it very realistic which was good, but it also adds a certain level of authenticity,” said Johanningsmeier.

From the students in hiding, there was not much of a difference in emotion. Some laughed it off because they knew it was a drill, while others thought past that to the what ifs. Hearing the drama students bang on doors and cry for help took a toll on some students.

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At Meyer Gym they all assembled and listened to administration and police speakers as a debrief of the morning. 

Olivia Watson (11) said, “I felt like crying. Especially whenever I realized I couldn’t save who was outside the door.”

The fact that there were people in the hallways that she could not help also scared Laura McGlothlin (9) during the drill.

Other students were not at the high school during the drill. Some seniors and juniors were at the elementary schools for cadet teaching during first period. They were on lockdown for 15 minutes with the children and were not allowed to return to the high school until the drill was over. Abby Richey (12) was one of these students. She said in the event of a real situation she would have rather been at the high school with her friends and not at the elementary. She said this because she would not know what was happening and no one would be able to tell her.

“They can tell me that it was scary or whatever, but I’ll never be able to have an opinion about it because I didn’t experience it,” said Richey.

For a lot of SHS students the drill was not nearly what they were expecting.

Wyatt Harmon (10) said, “I expected gunshots, (but) I wasn’t expecting them to go around and scream.”

In Madame Ondra Couch’s fifth period French class, students talked about what they thought of the drill. Students said that they expected sirens and chaos and that they wish they could have blockaded the doors for a full experience.

Jaiden Herald (11) said, “It really wasn’t realistic at all. (Not) when the ambulances were parked outside when we got here.”  

To add to the thought, Alexis Combs (12) said that she thought the EMS should have been at the hospital, got the call and then came. Jacob Roberts (12) thought that the EMS and the police should have been called from their stations to make it more realistic for students. Herald stated that the police would not be there the second that the shooting happened therefore, them being there for the drill was unrealistic.

When talking about the topic Madame Couch, approached the elephant in the room when she said, “You know it’s a drill, but what if.”

To HSTW students, the drill was more of a frightening, emotional experience. To New Tech students the drill was more comfortable and normal to what they feel in most drills as the intruder did not go to that building. Kiya Knight (12) said that the drill was a lot different for New Tech students and that it was not what she expected. Madame Couch said that she was expecting to hear the radio blare “the intruder is in route to New Tech.”

Ms. Deonna Puckett, New Tech Chemistry teacher, also expressed her disappointment in New Tech’s inclusion in the drill. She said that all of the students should have been exposed to the same type of situation and that she was a little disappointed. However, she was glad because she knew it would have been very emotional for some students.

When asked about her thoughts on the drill Puckett said, “I think I anticipated it to be during passing period so there would be a lot more variables, but other than that it went how I expected.”

For HSTW English teacher Angela Bray, the drill was more emotional being in the midst of it all.

“It was difficult. I found myself very emotional,” commented Bray on not being able to help the students in the halls.

Bray said that the classroom atmosphere was quiet and somber. After the shooter was apprehended she sat with her students and had a talk about what they would do in a real situation like that. However, Bray said that she was also expecting the first responders to come from their stations. Bray believed that the classes could have been more involved by writing out their injured and a body count on a piece of paper and sliding it under the door, instead of sitting and waiting.

Lastly, when talking about the radio communication Bray mentioned that the radios were not as efficient as they should have been when she said, “Maybe some radio work (needed to be done).”

Odelia Soto (10) also played a victim in the drill, but she was not shot. Her role in the drill was to play a student with asthma and to have an asthma attack in the halls. When Soto was asked about her experience in the drill she answered with the “what if” thought.

Soto said, “It just kind of put a thought in my head. This could be real. All of this could happen at any time. All of the screaming and all of the agony. (It) just puts a toll on you, and a lot of the people just sat there in “pain” and couldn’t get help. It just makes you think that this could happen at any time on any day.”

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