In the United States alone there has been 154 school shootings in 2018. Knowing Michigan was rated one of the top five states for school threats after the massacre at Parkland High School in Florida it is important that we know how our own school protects us against these horrible events, isn’t it? Walking into the front doors to the office it probably doesn’t cross your mind that the administration at GHS is doing everything they can to keep us safe while we are at school. In a recent interview with our new principal, Mr.Lancto, he states that mental health plays a big role in not only active shooters, but in students everyday lives. He commented “Mental health is not always, but usually one of the factors that causes the shootings. So identifying areas where that happens is important. Primarily we look at three different areas that include behavior, attendance and academics because when you see slips in those categories for unknown reasons it begs the question, ‘What’s going on?’ So we check in with those kids. This leads to us being able to identify students who are struggling and who are using our counseling department in many different ways.” Mr. Lancto isn’t the only one who believes this is a mental health issue, Officer Greco does too. “I don’t believe this is a gun thing, this is a mental illness thing for sure because who in their right mind comes to school and kills a whole bunch of kids that they go to school with? We have brought in mental health coordinators and a few of the administration have buttons that alert them of kids that they believe aren’t doing well. If this isn’t a newsflash to us all then what is? If you are dealing with something mentally, at home, or just need to talk seek help!” It is obvious that counselors, teachers and administration are available and here to provide a “safe place” for Grandville students.
If tomorrow there was a school shooting at GHS, what would we do to assure no one gets hurt? Mr. Lancto, Officer Greco and Mr. Karpowicz all literally had the same chilling answer to this question. Every one of them asked, “You mean what keeps me up at night?” in a way that would send a shiver up one’s spine in a millisecond. “I don’t want there to ever be anything to happen to you kids here at school and I’m really applauding our district as a whole for taking this seriously” Mr. Lancto said.
At the high school Officer Greco is more than just a cop, “If kids don’t know me by now they think, ugh he’s a cop and are scared of me, but working at the schools is fun for me.” He wants everyone to know that yes, he is a cop but he’s here to protect students also. “I’ve never shot anybody, but we shoot all of the time. I’ve never shot a human being, I don’t want to but if a person is going hurt the kids here that I’m supposed to be protecting, I would do what I have to do. I’m not sitting here and saying ‘Oh I don’t know if I could shoot somebody.’ I’m not saying that at all, and I dont think there’s a police officer that gets into this line of work and wants to kill somebody. And if they are then they aren’t the right ones for the job.” Officer Greco wants us as students to know that he would do anything to keep us safe and most importantly, alive.
No matter who you ask, they’re going to have a different opinion on what to do if something like a school shooting were to happen. Our principal has a vision for what GHS should do if such an event should happen, “There is a lot of conversation around this topic, inevitably there’s always what if? We boil it down to three things which we learned in active shooting training. When a school has an active shooter attack the following things need to happen:
1. Hide, which we practice. Within the room you are in you can barricade your door, find a closet, hide from the threat.
2. Flee or escape, if someone were to break in through the cafeteria and it were safer at the other end of the school and had the ability to escape you could.
3. Fight back. Use anything you can as a weapon and just fight back
At any point of an active shooter attack any of those three could happen, or all three at once. There is no way to anticipate every different scenario and what it will look like.” GHS Security guard, Mr. Karpowicz gave his opinion on how GHS handles lock down drills he said, “The last lockdown drill we had, I had a student ask me why I was out of breath and I told her it’s because I take these things as if they’re actually happening. I get my heart rate up, I get looking, I get my mind thinking of what’s gonna happen, I think about what I’m going to do if I come across somebody who is in the hallways who is not supposed to be there, looking around trying to listen to things, what’s out of place and what’s not. I’m trying to treat it as real as I possibly can because if there is a shooting I will need to rely on my instincts and muscle memory.” He went on to say “The scary part about it is, is my reaction to the problem would be to go to the threat because that’s what I’ve been trained to do for many years. But, I have no means to protect myself. If the possibility is there to neutralize the situation, I will. I would also try to get kids in safe rooms or out of the building if I can.” It is very comforting to know that we can count on Mr. Karpowicz to keep us safe and to do whatever it takes to make sure that nothing happens to us.
Last but not least, all members of the administration (and this one’s for you seniors) would like to remind us to not prop open the doors. It might be cold and it might be a shorter walk, but don’t just leave an open access for someone to walk into our school that doesn’t belong here. Let’s keep it safe Grandville!