ALICE Drill has Students Feeling Safe and Empowered

Since the Sandy Hook School shooting of December 2012, the American public has dealt with 34 similar incidents in towns of different locations and affluence around the country. A total of 323 students have died in school shootings in the past 15 years. Just a single death is cause for concern, but hundreds of students being killed is a sign we need to take action.

This school year, Hanover High School adopted the ALICE protocol, which goes beyond traditional lockdowns where students hide and wait for rescue from police. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, and presents several options for responding to an armed attacker. Students and teachers have been trained in how to communicate where the threat is and whether to evacuate, barricade their classroom doors or attempt to counter the attacker. (For more details on HHS’s plan of action, see the article published in our archives:  New Security Plan Focuses on Armed Threat)

On Nov. 10, HHS students and staff participated in a drill which involved practicing the options. I found the trial run to be helpful and informative, and was curious to find out what my classmates thought of the practice and the ALICE program as a whole.

An ALICE drill in an Ohio school, courtesy of the ALICE Training Institute
An ALICE drill in an Ohio school, image courtesy of the ALICE Training Institute

Many of my peers found it hard to believe that we live in a world where school shootings are something to expect and plan for. “It was eye-opening that these are the procedures we have to practice now, said Caroline O’Rourke, a junior.

“It was definitely necessary because (incidents) are happening more often but it was also nerve wracking,” said senior Maranda Grant.

I frequently heard how students found ALICE to be an improvement over our past practice of stay-put/lockdown drills. “It’s surprising that its taken this long to figure out that huddling in a corner is not the best way to hide from an intruder,” said junior Megan Ditullio. No one likes to feel at a loss for control, especially in a life-threatening situation. Vanessa Hanifan agreed, “I’m happy they changed to ALICE instead of just a stay-put drill.”

The drill was pretty scary if you thought about it in the context of a real life situation, but it nevertheless made the majority of my classmates feel safer. Junior Melanie Armstrong said, “I thought ALICE training was both helpful and smart. Now if something bad happens the whole school will know what to do.”

Jake McInerney, a freshman, agreed. “I never really thought about the stuff we were told about. I feel better now that I have.”

“When we watched the video, we learned what we had to do but not if we could do it,” added Erica Perry, also a freshman. “Not I feel more prepared.”

The drill also apparently did its job to make students feel like they were personally being taken care of. Annika Rowland, a junior, found the training “made me realize how real a situation like that could be but it made me feel better prepared and more confident that our safety is the school’s number one priority.”

Andrea Murphy, a senior, agreed. “Everyone was taking it seriously, going through scenarios. It made me feel safer, like we’d all come together.”

I also found that the practice made me feel that I had more power and was reassured about what would happen in the event of a gunman in the school. The day can best be summed up by junior Christian Morris, who said “Although many people had a comical look on ALICE training, it gave an educational and safe look at what could happen in the future and precautions needed to help keep students safe.”

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