School safety


The image above shows the location of the Rancho Tehama elementary school, where the shooting occurred, on a map of California.

Lauren Bunker, Staff Writer

Shootings have always been a problem but it’s been getting worse and worse. Recently we’ve all had one thing on our minds-  the school shooting in California. Yesterday we were all struck with the horrible tragedy that took place at an elementary school in Rancho Tehama. A shooter ran his truck through the school’s gates and began to fire at the walls of the classrooms. Teachers and other adults on campus frantically got the students under desks. He killed four people and wounded ten out of rage. Earlier that morning the gunman had also killed two of his neighbors that he had lasting dispute with. Officials believe that the revenge triggered a rage.


Not only are we dealing with the loss of the kids in california but also the loss of the people in the Las Vegas shooting and Texas church shooting. Fifty nine were killed and four hundred eighty nine were critically injured in the Las Vegas shooting and in the Texas church shooting twenty five were killed including an unborn child, setting a dark cloud over america. At times like these it makes us as a county feel safer to know that we are protected from situations like this. That’s why we have procedures to help us when we are in danger.


In order to be as prepared as they can be, the forsyth county sheriff’s office does an active shooter simulation where they gather all officers and firefighters along with 200 students to perform a life-like simulation for preparedness. They use fake guns, fire alarms, heavy smoke, and realistic makeup on kids to make the simulation as real as they can make it. On February 21, 2017 they had a practice drill at West Forsyth High School. There were two officers who pretended to be shooters and began the simulations by using their fake guns to shoot at students. The first deputy to arrive on scene is the deputy resource officer and some of his backup. They locate the shooter and take him out. Once the threat is eliminated deputies and firefighters start clearing students out of the building while scanning for other potential threats and helping the wounded. This not only helps the Forsyth County officers train for possible shootings but also lets the students who participated in the simulation know what to do in that scenario so they can guide other students.


When I interviewed school administrator, Jim Parrish, I asked if the simulations helped South Forsyth and he responded, “I think according to school safety and the Sherrifs department it helped a lot.” I also asked if the recent shootings have made the county more cautious and he answered, “I think we’re always cautious, we take taking care of you guys very seriously.” In regards to what students might do if they were locked outside a classroom he suggested “They should find a secure location whether it be a bathroom or somewhere where they can just take cover.”  In the matter of if a shooter were to enter a classroom, he said, “Students should try to take cover as best as they could, it really depends on the situation. We would never encourage a student to put themselves in danger but it really depends on the situation.”


I interviewed some of the South Forsyth students to get their opinion on not only the Las Vegas shooting but also the school’s procedures to stop dangerous situations like that from happening. In an interview with Jenna Bunker she said “Well it’s terrible someone would do that, but I don’t know much information about it. It made me sad, since I thought by now people would understand that human life is irreplaceable and valuable. It didn’t really affect me, I’ve never even been to Las Vegas and I don’t know anyone who was affected.” Many of the students I spoke to had similar views. They found it sad but weren’t very affected by it. When Laila Dejong was asked her thoughts on the shooting procedures she said “I don’t feel safe because I feel like it could be really easy to walk into the school with a bunch of guns.” Although the county protects us from violence such as the Las Vegas, Texas and California shootings, it’s still scary to students to know that a threat like that exists and it could very well be our own school that’s next.


The recent shootings were a horrible tragedy but all we can do to fight tragedies such as these is come up with procedures and scenarios to save people. Thanks to the Forsyth County sheriff’s department we are safer and less likely to have something of this magnitude happen to our schools. We may not be able to prevent misfortunes right now but in the future we may come up with ways to make sure there are no casualties and no grieving families. For now we must keep our head up high and support the families of the fallen with their terrible loss.