Students benefit from lockdown drills

Up until Thursday afternoon, Duncan Middle School students had no idea that the lockdown drills they practiced may potentially save their lives.

Although Duncan Middle School students and teachers practice lockdown drills twice a year, an actual lockdown is rarely used. However, Thursday’s police pursuit necessitated the use of a lockdown, where all doors were locked and students had to remain in class.

Lockdown drills are used to train students in what to do if there is an exterior threat or potential harm outside the school. First, the office alerts teachers to the situation. Teachers are the make sure all doors are closed and locked. Unless called by the office, all students are to remain in their classrooms.

Then class would resume class as normal.

Emily Alley, a sixth-grade student at Duncan Middle School, was in English when the lockdown initiated.

This was Alley’s first time ever having a real lockdown.

“I think the drills that we practiced really did help us know what to do, and it was good knowing that we were prepared and doing the right thing,” she said. “I was in Mrs. Blalock’s class when it happened and I heard sirens, and I saw police dogs, cop cars, helicopters and I heard a SWAT team in the building.”

Alley was a little concerned at first.

“I was worried because I thought an active shooter was in the building, but we just did the stuff we learned and it kept us all safe,” she said.

Seventh-grade English teacher Whitney Gdanksi was among those keeping classes settled during the lockdown.

“We just locked our doors, closed the blinds and pretty much what we do in drills, and everything ended up being alright,” Gdanski said.

She also was informing the students what was happening outside the building so they wouldn’t be frightened.

“My students did exactly what they were supposed to, and they behaved well,” she said. “I’m very thankful for that. It also helped because I didn’t have to ask them to settle down. We just stayed calm.” 

Assistant Principal Tim Hightower said the lockdown drills helped in preparation for the real thing.

“We prepare for real emergencies that propose a threat to the middle school,” Hightower said. “The overall goal of the drills is to keep the students and faculty safe.”

He said the drills will “differ based on the information we get from the law enforcement and Simmons Center and the severity of the treat.We have very good communication with the Simmons Center and law enforcement, as well as our staff.”

Hightower thought the students did well despite the unusual circumstances.

“They were well prepared for the situation, and the school as a whole performed well,” he said. “I was so proud of them, and I hope they will practice like this and do this well in the future.”