It is a different time we live in. I remember going to school and we would periodically have a fire drill usually in October. We would walk out of school in a straight line, our hands at our sides waiting for the all clear bell to ring. Sometimes we knew the drills would occur, other times they were a surprise to see how prepared we were — and that included the faculty. Then tornado drills were added to the list of being prepared. We would assume the position, covering our head and since I attended St. Mary’s we would begin to pray.
Times became scarier and the threat of air raids was another type of drill. In the 1950’s the newly built Blythe Park School in Riverside had an air raid shelter in the lower level of the school. On the exterior of the building was a sign designating there was an air raid shelter. The sign was eventually taken down. I wonder what happened to it and I hope they don’t have to put it back up.
Now we are faced with another kind of drill for students in schools. They have to be prepared for lock-downs, security within the buildings and harder access to enter the buildings.
When I was teaching, it meant making sure all my students were accounted for during the fire drill, grabbing the class list as I left the room making sure the door was closed. Having students crouch in the halls for tornado drills, which often were not just drills. I learned what the different sirens meant in North Riverside since I was teaching at Mater Christi. Whatever the drill, the students were the main concern and trying to keep them calm.
“Mr. Lockhart is in the building” was the signal that someone had somehow entered the building who was unauthorized. Fortunately we never had to heed the call although I did approach someone in the building who looked ‘suspicious’ only to find out he was there to pick up the mats for cleaning. Awkward! He did commend me for my attempt to protect the school. I suggested he might want to have some noticeable identification.
It certainly is a different time. But we need to get back to school being the safe-haven, where teachers teach and students can learn and expand their lives for a better future for themselves and the rest of the world. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and not be hesitant to speak out and report anything suspicious. It is better to be safe than sorry for all our good.