(Copyright 1999 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

May 17, 1999

Could new safety plan be dangerous?

The Tattoo

Designed to make Bristol Eastern High School safer,
the "Lancer Lockdown" could put students and
teachers at greater risk, some students said.

"Putting us all in one place, or in clusters, is
dangerous. The last thing we want to do is get into
groups for the killers," said Carolyn Webster, an
Eastern sophomore.

"It's going to provoke maniacs," said Dave Carros, a
senior at Bristol Eastern.

Many teachers said that while the school has to do
something, the lockdowns are pointless and depressing.

"It saddens me," said Michael Traverso, a social
studies teacher at Eastern, "that I've been here 30
years and this is what weíve come to -- hiding the
kids in the corners and locking the doors."

Jack Winters, a history teacher at Central, said the
plan encourages the "mentality" of school violence.
"Now, they think it will happen because you practice
the drill," he said.

The lockdown plan ≠ and drills ≠ are only for
Bristol Eastern. At Bristol Central, administrators are
taking a more relaxed approach, locking entrances and
requiring guests to carry passes.

"I felt safe at school," said Eastern sophomore Sarah
McDonald, "but this lockdown thing makes students
paranoid, and, if someone's going to do something, a
lockdown isn't going to help."

"Frankly, if they were going to kill us all, I donít
think it would stop them," said Chris Bonis, an
Eastern junior.

Gina Gallo, a sophomore at Central, said she thinks
people are overreacting.

"I think itís pointless," said Eastern sophomore Chris
Wright. "There is really no threat to our school."

But Traverso said something has to be done.

Administrators are "doing the best that anyone could
do, but if someone's determined, there's nothing you
can do," Traverso said.

"Itís very sad that it's come to this," said Pasquale
DiMatteo, the Italian teacher at Eastern, "but I have
my instructions and it's better safe than sorry, I guess."

Richard Ladisky, an accounting teacher at Eastern,
said, "Every school has to have a well-thought-out
plan to protect everybody."

"There'll always be panic if something happens,"
Ladisky said, "but the majority will follow the plan."

Sandy O'Keefe, a math teacher at Central, said she
doesn't think the drill is a bad idea.

"It allows you to work out the problems," OíKeefe

"Itís the least administrators can do without the
teachers having to arm themselves," said Austin
Ouellette, an Eastern junior. "It's all safety measures.
It needs to be done."

According  to Eastern Assistant Principal Boyd
Biondino, the plan isn't anything new.

"We've always had an intruder alert system,"  said
Biondino, "and now we're just calling it a 'Lancer
Lockdown.' It's been in place for years, as a pro-active
measure. This isn't in reaction to anything."

Some students aren't so sure.

"It's all about Colorado," said Thea Denslow, an
Eastern junior. "They have to show that they're doing
something. But it's not going to work. Even if the
teachers stay sane and keep to the plan if anything
happens, it won't help anything."

"It wonít work," said Brian Austin, an Eastern junior. "If
you hear gunshots, you aren't going to think rationally.
You certainly aren't going to lock yourself in a

"I don't think they're taking that into account," he said.

If the attackers are students, some said, they'll already
know the plan and will be able to use it to their

Fernando Gonzalez, a junior at Eastern, said, "I think
it's kinda tough how the teachers talk about putting
their lives in risk for their students. When the action
happens, they're not gonna do shit."

Don Namnoum, a sophomore at Central, said locking
kids in classrooms would only help an attacker.

"If you hide, you're trapping yourself," said Alex Tie,
a freshman at Central.

"I wouldn't lock myself up," said Bryan Rivard, an
Eastern junior. "If I hear gunshots in the hallway, I
run like hell."