Gun violence raises anxiety

Greenhills takes saftey precautions


Greenhills takes saftey precautions

Isabel Baru '25, Lifestyles Editor

100 mass shootings in 64 days. By March 6, the number of mass shootings had surpassed the number of days in the year. A mass shooting is a crime that is committed by an attacker which results in injury or death. The alarming rate of increase brought many questions into the school halls. 

Students like Maya Comer ‘24 deal with the fear of growing up in a world prevalent with mass shootings. This fear affects more than just public outings, it affects their school life as well. 

“It has made me more scared of going out in public,” said Comer. “A few years ago I was going to see a concert, and I was terrified because I was convinced that someone was going to open fire and kill me. I did not want to be in a place with that many people. I was sure that I was going to die. We shouldn’t have to live in a world where kids are dealing with that.” 

In the aftermath of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in Feb. 2018, schools around the nation jumped to action including Greenhills. Greenhills students learned about March For Our Lives, a rally held in Washington, D.C in support of gun violence regulation.

“The students were very excited to go as well as the other chaperones, James Lupton, Nadine Hall, and Mark Randolph,” said Rebecca Randolph, who also chaperoned. 

The chaperones and the 12-15 Greenhills students stayed in a hotel. Where they spent the night making posters with other students from around the country who had also come to march in support of gun regulation. In the morning they attended the march with over a million other people. 

A month later, Greenhills held its biannual service day, planned and led by director of service learning and civic engagement Alyssa Friendly and a group of students. Unlike most service days, the focus was centered around gun violence awareness. 

“The group that was planning the day dropped everything and chose to focus on gun violence awareness,” said Friendly.  

On April 20, 2018, the rally was held. In advance, the student service leaders researched all the mass shooting victims names and ages. The members then created a card for each one and color coded based on the year and decade. The cards were then distributed to students who stood side by side around the track. Date markers were placed to show the range of years starting from the 1960s to 2010s.

“It was very powerful to see that half the track, so roughly 280 students, were on the 2010s side. It portrayed the drastic increase in gun violence between the 1960s and the more recent years,” said Friendly. “I would be interested to see this again, but from 2000 to 2022, the students on the track would be overfilling or double stacked.” 

A portion of the rally was dedicated to student and faculty speakers. Speakers focused on a variety of topics such as: what action needs to be taken, the results post school shootings, and the need for the removal of accessible military grade guns.

Ben Toporski ‘22 was one of the student speakers. While Toporski spoke from his pro-gun rights perspective, he explained that he felt not all guns belonged in civilian life. 

“The AR-15 and other assault weapons are military guns, and I believe that nobody in this country should be allowed to own a military gun,” said Ben Toporski.

After speeches the entire school walked on the sidewalks near the school and down to a nearby overpass with banners. Written on the banners were #neveragain and #enough, these were popular hashtags created by Parkland students. 

Greenhills has not had a rally since this. When Greenhills initially opened it was a small school. No cameras, no doors locked at a certain time, and the main entrance was not watched. Over the past couple of years new precautions have been placed. According to chief financial officer John Nickle, the precautions are only the physical aspect. The first was the installation of cameras. Added 15 years ago, they are exterior facing with the exception of the gym. To not interfere with the school’s culture of trust, the cameras are used for passive security. Passive security means they are not constantly monitored and only used when someone needs them to rewatch an event.

 The second precaution was built 10 years ago. After the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown Connecticut in 2012, there was an increase in demand from Greenhills parents for the school to be safer. This was the creation of the “official” front entrance.

“The purpose was that once doors were locked, visitors were now forced to go through the main entrance and check in with the secretary versus entering any random door,” said Nickel. 

The locking door mechanism which locks all the doors at a specific time was set in place around the same time the entrance was created. The doors lock from 9 a.m to 3:10 p.m. 

Besides the physical changes from a couple years ago, the newest installment has been the black door covers added this school year. 

Another aspect of aiming to make Greenhills a safer school focuses on community action. This includes discussions on being aware if something problematic may occur, when a shooting happens, a mass email or call being sent out, and intruder drills. 

“Discussions have happened between faculty about being encouraged to think about ways of defending the class and how to get students out of a classroom if an intruder were to enter the school,” said Rebecca Randolph. “As well as having conversations with students about having a plan. I hate to do it because it makes the scenario real, but encouraging classrooms to have those discussions is important.” 

Even with precautions and heightened awareness from educators there are mixed opinions on how safe Greenhills is. Teachers feel like Greenhills is thoroughly prepared and safe. 

“Greenhills has done everything that it can and I do think that there is a balance needed between safety protocols and continuing to provide an environment for students that is open and welcoming,” said Rebecca Randolph. 

Both Rebecca Randolph and math teacher Chris Lemoine agree that Greenhills is a secure environment. Some feel like the action steps that need to be taken should start with the law enforcement officials and lawmakers. 

 “It is very important to be vocal where it is appropriate and where actual change can happen such as emailing and calling state legislators and raising conversations in town halls,” said Lemoine. “Also being supportive of movements or institutions that want to help remedy the issue we have in the United States with gun violence. We need to address the issue at the source.”

Students at Greenhills have mixed reviews on whether the school is secure. Rebekah Warren ‘25 doesn’t feel the school needs to take any more precautions. 

“This is pretty much a safe community,” said Warren. “If anything was to happen there’s a lot of access to resources. Everyone has also been accustomed to the drills so they would know where to go if someone were to enter the building.” 

After the Oxford High School Shooting shooting in 2021, Warren felt like she had many trusted teachers to reach out to talk to. 

“Last school year I had some friends who got very upset over it and what the outcome would look like,” said Warren. “ Ms. Sterling let us use the entire class period to process our emotions and have an open discussion about what happened.” 

For other students like Comer they wish that more physical precautions could be taken. Especially with the accessibility of the building. 

“I do wish Greenhills were better about locking its doors because anyone could walk into this school if they wanted to,” said Comer. “That does sometimes make me feel unsafe. There is more that Greenhills could do but I am not sure it would change anything in the case of a shooting event.”