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

The Tattoo

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

May 17, 1999

New drill: 'Lancer Lockdown'

By MERISSA MASTROPIERO
The Tattoo

When Bristol Eastern High School students heard
"Lancer Lockdown" over the intercom last Monday,
they scrambled into classrooms and hunkered down.

The first test of the new lockdown, intended to secure
the school in case someone starts shooting, saw
teachers frantically herd students out of hallways and,
once the corridors were cleared, lock doors, shut off
lights and take attendance.

Then students and teachers were instructed to lie low
and wait.

"We need to fine tune some things," said Principal V.
Everett Lyons. "Though all the students took it
seriously, we need to make sure that everyone knows
what to do ≠ some very minor stuff."

"This is a safe school," Lyons said. But, he said, "No
matter how safe you are, you need a backup plan. We
can't get into the attitude 'it can't happen here.'"

Lyons said he wanted to wait until the hysteria from
the Colorado school massacre died down a bit before
telling teachers, students and parents about the
lockdown plan. They were all informed recently.

Alexandra Mikan, an English teacher at Eastern, said
the plan "may not be foolproof," but it's best to have
something ready. "I think having a plan will give
people a direction to go in," she said.

In a letter to parents, Lyons said school administrators
"do not perceive a threat at present" but want the plan
to help minimize risks.

He said a key role for parents and students "is to keep
us informed of situations which may lead to a more
serious outburst. Please do not assume that 'somebody
at school should know about this' and do nothing."

Lyons said a dress code barring hats, bandannas,
heavy sweaters and sweatshirts, jackets and coats will be
strictly enforced.

The school is also taking precautions against visitors.

After 8 a.m., all doors except the main entrance will
be locked from the outside and visitors must stop at
the office to get an identification badge.

If an emergency evacuation of Eastern is ever
necessary, said Lyons, students and parents have been
told to head to nearby Stafford School.

To bolster security, Lyons said he also wants to
replace many aging doors. They should lock when
they swing shut, he said, but many now don't close
properly.

"The art doors don't lock from the inside," said Wendy
Thornley, an art teacher at Eastern. "I herded my
students into the closet. When we got out we'd been
locked in. We had to flag down a janitor in the
hallway to get out."

"Itís a good plan," Thornley added, "but I hope we
never have to use it."

More drills are planned soon.

At a meeting with Lyons recently, Eastern staff
members suggested that classrooms should have a
second phone installed for emergencies, since the
normal line to the office is often busy.

Lyons said they could install another intercom phone.
But he said the school's five two-way radios are
sufficient.

Sharon Poupart, a guidance counselor at Eastern, said
the plan sounds good. Lyons, she said, is "being pro-
active. He is not going overboard."

Poupart said that on the first day back at school after
the shootings at Columbine High School, "I saw many
kids that were nervous and wanted to talk about
Littleton."

In addition to cracking down and making plans, Lyons
is also trying to soften the school environment.

To help draw students together, more activities are
planned for the upcoming year that would include the
interests of more social groups, he said.

During an address to the school over the intercom
recently, Lyons said, "All students must be welcomed.
We need to refrain from spiteful, hurtful behaviors and
comments. We all have to learn to get along together.
We must demand respect for every student."

Tattoo staff writers Joe Wilbur and Jessica Norton
contributed to this article.


RETURN TO TATTOO HOME PAGE