MSAD #51 Clarifies Safety Concerns After Recent Threats

MSAD #51 Clarifies Safety Concerns After Recent Threats

Ranger Review Staff

 After reports of students bringing weapons to GHS and GMS were recently made public, many people wanted to know the types of weapons involved. In a recent video to the MSAD #51 community, Jeff Porter, without going into specific details, said the weapons brought to school were “definitely not guns.”  With the recent shooting in Michigan that killed four students and injured many more, school safety is once again a primary concern for many staff, students, and parents. 

GHS Interim-Principal Don Gray understands that any news of a weapon in school can create a lot of anxiety.

“What gets folks on edge is when there is a possibility of there being a gun in school,” Gray said. 

He also recognizes that preparing staff and students for a violent event and not creating anxiety in the school is a balancing act.

“I don’t want being prepared for a [school shooting] to be people’s focus when they come to school,” Gray said.   I want them to be focused on their academics. We can’t talk about it everyday, but we can’t be complacent.”

GHS was scheduled to have a lockdown drill in November but that was canceled when the school had to have a remote day.  A new lockdown drill will be scheduled soon.

“We need to prepare for the event that we could have a violent person in our school,” Gray said.  We’re looking into how we do our [lockdown] drills a little differently to get people to remember these are the things we do and can do if there is a threat.”

Science teacher Andrew Baca thinks events in Michigan and here at GHS should be a wakeup call for society but believes MSAD 51 is doing what it needs to do to keep people safe.

“I think the school does a lot of good things to be proactive about [weapons being brought to school], trying to identify if there are issues, and we have counselors and other things we try to do to make sure these things don’t happen,” Baca said.  As a society, I think we need to deal with this, and I’ll tell you, I believe we should repeal and replace the 2nd Amendment.”

11th grader Cady Hatch also thinks the school has been responsibly handling the issue of weapons being brought to school

“I feel pretty safe coming to school,” Cady said.  Having a resource officer is almost comforting in a way. I think, overall, it’s a sore subject, but the school and administration has been handling it well.”

Some students, like 11th grader Miranda Cohen, believe the school could do more to prepare students for lockdown situations.

“My first year here was last year,” Cohen said. “I haven’t done a lockdown drill in my time here. I’ve only really participated in fire drills. I guess I’m not really sure how much we are prepared because I haven’t been here for a dangerous situation like that.”

The student handbook clearly outlines the rules and punishments for students bringing any weapon onto school grounds. Firearms are a definite 10-day suspension while there is also a possibility of expulsion. When looking at smaller, less-lethal weapons, such as knives or brass knuckles, the student will still be punished.  However, there is no set punishment  for these cases. The police will always be notified and possibly involved, especially in the case of firearm possession.

Federal law makes it a crime to bring a gun within 1000 feet of a school.  A person convicted of knowingly bringing a gun within a school zone could face 5 years in prison, a $5000 fine, and a lifetime gun possession ban. 

The chances any student will ever be killed in a school shooting are extremely rare.  Web MD reports that statistically the odds are between “one million and two million.”  Though it is unlikely to happen, Children Defense Fund reports on its website that  in 2018 being involved in a school shooting was the second most common worry among US children ages 6 to 17. Education Week reports that since the start of the 2021-22 school year, there have been 23 school shootings in the United States.

Social studies teacher and Greely alum (‘91) Derek Soule thinks staff who want more lockdown training should receive it.  He also remembers a time when people had a different attitude about guns coming to school.

“When I was a student here at GHS I can remember during hunting season, guys would have their rifles on racks in their trucks in the parking lot,” Soule said.  “The school asked that they keep their trucks locked. So times have definitely changed, but given the number of school shootings over the last two years, obviously we have to prepare and take all necessary precautions right now.”

School safety depends on all of us reporting anything we see or hear that is alarming.  If you see something, say something.  Students should report any concern to a teacher or staff member.

Superintendent Porter wants people to recognize that the district has “the structures and plans in place for responding appropriately, effectively, and swiftly” when incidents occur in our schools.  

“The best measure we can do is to keep talking about school safety,” Porter said.