The Lockdown Drill, a Short History

Tim DeSimone, Assistant News Editor

Sheltered by locked doors and dim lights, students huddled in the corner out of the view of windows, every classroom doing the same. All down the halls, door handles were shaken and twisted, and empty rooms searched. Within 20 minutes the practice lockdown was lifted.

An Albemarle High School scare involving a misunderstood intruder and the local police turned out to be an easily resolved issue yet resulted in bomb sniffing dogs searching the area, and policeman with war-style weapons shuffling students out of the building. This left many questions for students, and parents. How effective is locking the doors? Does turning out the lights actually have any effect? What if you’re out in the halls when teachers lock their doors?

Western class of 2005 graduate and current 9th and 10th grade English teacher Jessica Kompelien said lockdown drills are fairly new to WAHS. “I don’t think we even did drills when I was a student…just tornado and fire drills.” She makes sure her students are quiet, but still productive, doing worksheets or studying instead of just sitting in the dark.

On the administration side, Dr. Greg Domecq and his team are always seeking ways to improve the drill. “As administrators, we take great care to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure you’re in as safe an environment as you can,” said Domecq, “We always get phone calls, because people get scared…but that’s the reality of the time in which we live.”

Every day at 9:00 am, the administration team goes and locks all the doors so that the school can be protected from anyone trying to enter. But part of the issue is that students passively argue with them on this. “How many times do I walk around the school and see a rock in the door?…From start to finish school shootings take less than ten minutes, the open door is all they need,” said Domecq.

“Mrs.Hughes is really great about all this, she makes sure that we are on top of all our procedures, and does a really excellent job.” Mrs. Hughes and the administration team have many procedures in place to guarantee that the student body and staff are safe from any emergency, including fires, tornadoes, and the lockdown drill. Every time a drill is activated, administrators have to walk around the school and identify what needs to be fixed. They check door handles, lock the hall doors, and make sure teachers have a head count in the event of a fire drill. All of this may seem a little obsessive or unnecessary, but school safety is the top priority.

“As a community, we have to look out for each other” said Mr Domecq, “I spend a lot of time some days chasing rumors that aren’t true… I can’t take the chance of being wrong.”