By Zach Bostic
On the morning of Monday, November 6, Collegiate School participated in a Lockdown Drill to help the campus prepare for the possibility of an intruder on campus. Later that day, an accidental lockdown was triggered without any notification. Luckily, there was no reason for alarm, and within a few minutes the campus returned to its usual activities. Following this eventful day, I interviewed Jason Stone, the Director of Campus Security. Stone is the principal organizer for safety drills and an integral part of event planning throughout the entire school.
It is not uncommon to find Stone reading to Lower School classes. Since his arrival in 2010, Stone has tried, and succeeded, to bridge the gap between the Collegiate security team and the students and faculty. Stone can be seen all throughout campus, but he says that on his stressful days, like those leading up to events like Village Green Fair, he walks through the Lower School to remind him what he loves most about his job: the people.
However, Stone and his team of security guards are more than class visitors. At the beginning of every year, Stone assesses the school’s schedule to decide when to plan for drills. At the beginning of every year, there are two drills within 20 days of classes resuming. Then, later in the year, drills will be planned according to when it would be most useful: “I plan tornado drills towards the end of winter, because we have most of our tornadoes in the spring, and we want that knowledge fresh in our minds.” But his planning is more than simply picking a day. Though safety is the highest priority, Stone is aware that “ten minutes is valuable time to a teacher. So I try to make sure the drills are as short as possible without compromising the purpose of the drill itself.”
Much has changed since Stone’s first year at Collegiate. When emergency drills first began to regularly occur, some teachers would disregard some parameters of the drills and continue their lesson, stating “it’s only a drill.” In the first lockdown drill (known at the time as a Signal Blue), according to Stone, half of the classrooms participated, half did not. Since then, however, the Collegiate campus has realized the importance of using drills to prepare us for real situations.
Current events dictate that we prepare for such emergencies. Sadly, on November 14, a school shooting occurred in Tehama County, California that took the lives of five people and injured ten. However, as a result of hasty decision-making by the administrators, the school triggered a lockdown, trapping the perpetrator outside and saving countless lives. Securing the campus is essential to protecting the lives of students and faculty. This concept is why Stone has the capability to instantaneously lock every door on campus using his cell phone.
A testament to the improvements Stone and his team have made to campus safety, the most recent Lockdown Drill was very successful from a security standpoint. While assessing the campus, Stone said that “it looked completely empty.” Later that same day, the accidental drill was triggered. With swift action, Collegiate quickly entered a full lockdown. Students had varying experiences. Kate Johnston’s (‘19) class “thought it was fake.” Matt Kollmansperger (‘18) was in the Sharp Café and “couldn’t hear the warning, I just saw people rushing to hide.” Though the entire campus acted appropriately and quickly, the security team had to improvise on how to handle a false alarm. Stone says that the scenario went smoothly, but that they will “add a false alarm procedure to the manual” to ensure that, in the event it happens again, they will be prepared.
When asked how students could be more involved or aware of campus safety and security, Stone commented that it is always important to act immediately. Stone also wants to help the students understand that the security team, himself included, are here to help. For example, if there is an accident in the parking lot, security will help document the incident and do an accident report, which could help the people involved with insurance claims and legal proceedings.
In every classroom on Collegiate’s campus, a poster hangs on the wall that lists directions for both students and faculty in the event of different emergency situations, which include lockouts, lockdowns, evacuations, and multiple scenarios where everyone must seek shelter. In the event of an actual emergency, the combination of information announced over the intercom, directions listed on the poster, and the experience gathered from drills will thoroughly decrease the likelihood of any complications.
Overall, the Collegiate community and campus has seen drastic improvements in safety and security. From electronic locks and cameras to a security team and daily police presence, Stone and the school administration have made the campus a safe place to be.