Bellevue West practices lockdown procedures



A Bellevue police officer accompanies Gary Graner as they walk through the halls during the lockdown drill on Jan. 24. Each classroom was inspected for following lockdown procedures. Photo by Nick Wilkinson

During second hour on Friday, Jan. 24, the hallways were empty and the classrooms dark and silent as students and faculty participated in Bellevue West’s first lockdown drill. Doors had to be locked and teachers along with students had to find a proper way to barricade themselves.

“The motivation of the safety program is to have [all] schools the same way. The procedures they [different schools] take may be different than what Bellevue schools take. That’s what makes it difficult,” dean Anna Thoma said.

Earlier in the week, teachers prepared their students for the drill. They informed their students of the procedure and prepared them for the lockdown announcement.

“I think we did a pretty good job at pre-teaching it so it wasn’t such a shock,” Principal Kevin Rohlf’s said.

Now, Bellevue West plans to hold lock down drills twice a semester. The first one will be announced and the second one will be more spontaneous. Though it will be brought to attention that it is in fact a drill, it will be held at a less convenient time.

“There will be students in the hallway and they won’t be prepared and it will be a good chance to evaluate how prepared we are,” Rohlfs said.

For some students the drill prepared them for what could have been a real school shooting.

“I wasn’t scared, but it taught me what to do in that situation,” sophomore Natalie Fountain said.

For others, it created a surreal feeling.

“When I made that announcement and walked in the hallway and by classrooms and heard how quiet it was I just had an empty feeling, like a pit in my stomach,” Rohlfs said. “But we have to be prepared.”

Though the drill brought knowledge and experience to some individuals, freshman Phillip Marion felt quite differently.

“It felt kind of fun. I don’t think it would prepare me for what would normally happen. Most of the time I was laughing,” Marion said.

The drill stemmed from the “I Love U Guys” foundation. The foundation began after Emily Keyes was killed in a school shooting Sept. 27, 2006 in Bailey, Colorado. After realizing the danger she was in, Keyes texted her parents, “I love u guys.” That was the last text her parents ever received from their daughter.

The next drill will not be held until the end of the school year. Though the drill taught valuable lessons for some or felt real to others, it only had one purpose.

“It’s just having everybody understand that if this happens what they should do,” Rohlfs said.

 Ashley Quintela
Editor in Chief and Hitting the Runway Blogger