The Pepperbox

The Student News Site of Arcata High School

The Pepperbox

The Pepperbox

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Lockdowns

How Safe Do You Feel at School?
This is data from the 2021 California Healthy Kids Survey about sudent percieved safety in schools.
This is data from the 2021 California Healthy Kids Survey about sudent percieved safety in schools.

“I’d rather just leave school,” senior Eli Hagler-Hernandez said when questioned about how he felt during the lockdown in the first period on September 21st. As of the past few weeks, Arcata High and neighboring schools have had multiple threats and lockdowns that have left students, teachers, and the community feeling uneasy.

“It’s a lot scarier when I have 30 kids to look after,” Kayla Gaskill, Arcata High art teacher, said.

School threats are an important issue many students around the world face. State law requires that schools have the right precautions and safety measures in place to protect the students and staff. Since the Columbine shooting of 1999, almost 60% of active shooter incidents have taken place at high schools in the United States.
Arcata High School principal Ron Perry said that if he was a student without the knowledge he has today, the current state of our safety system would not be up to his standard, however, he believes that our school has the ability to fix this and create a safer school environment.

“There’s always room to grow and room to improve,” Perry said.

The main concern of the students and faculty interviewed was communication. Dean of Students Señor Santisteban said that in lockdown situations, AHS admin works hands-on, making safety their biggest concern, and communication, at times, gets lost. Students and teachers seem most uneasy when the communication doesn’t reach them directly, and they don’t know what’s happening during lockdowns.

Aside from issues with communication, Santisteban is confident the school is trying its best to improve. Although more improvement is needed, he feels the admin team is taking steps in the right direction.

“I’ve never had a group like you guys […], I feel very safe,” Santisteban said.

Perry was very quick to try and resolve the issue of students getting emails from Tammy Pires regarding school safety and threats being sent to their spam folders. Going into your spam folder and confirming Tammy Pire’s email is safe will make sure other students know so they can be informed and get the emails regarding their safety. Perry urged students to add personal cell phone numbers to their school profile in StudentVue so that they receive text message alerts about safety concerns.

Whether you are feeling unsafe around yourself or others, there are numerous ways to get support. One of the main outlets is our school’s counselor/therapist, Eileen Klima, who is here to help students if they just need a break, to talk, or even a referral to a specialist. Klima is a resource at school to help manage stress or anxiety caused by threats and lockdowns or discuss any other issues students may be experiencing.

Some members of the Arcata High School community mentioned the idea of a safety level feature to ease the trauma from school lockdowns. This would mean some form of different intercoms depending on the level of danger that the school is in. An example would be on the 21st we would have gone into a softer lockdown. Instead of causing lots of panic throughout the school, the intercom might have mentioned just a soft lockdown. This would mean instead of following regular lockdown procedure the teacher would for example just lock the door and shut the blinds while class continues.

“My mind instantly goes to ‘school shooter’,” Hagler-Hernandez said. His safety level feature idea would implement different intercom sounds for each level of threat, such as threat level green, yellow, and red.

Some teachers said they’d benefit from it, and they think it could ease some of the trauma students may feel when they are put into lockdown. Art teacher Johanna Mauro mentioned just two different levels: regular lockdown and a modified, softer lockdown to combat the intense feeling caused by our regular intercom system.

A large safety feature put in by our school is safety day, previously being study hall drills. These drills and safety days show students and faculty how they can stay safe and keep others safe. “I feel a lot safer because of safety day,” Kayla Gaskill said regarding Arcata High’s recent change to a safety day. Switching to a safety day instead of study hall safety drills may not have had the effect the school wanted.

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About the Contributor
Beyla Jones
Beyla Jones, Sports Editor
Beyla Jones is a senior at Arcata High and a first-year journalist for The Pepperbox. She is excited to share her opinions and findings with her school and community. In her own personal writing, she likes to be argumentative with her writing personality, which can be best described as stubborn and opinionated. She wishes to follow her senior year by going to a California college and is looking to major in environmental science, and hopefully pursue a career as an environmental journalist. A dream job for her would be at National Geographic because it incorporates her love for photography and environmental journalism.
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