Reporting by Justin Mendez, Arts Editor. Written by Esther Ben Ami, Editor-in-Chief.
Last Thursday, November 16, a fire alarm rang through the halls of Harvest Collegiate High School. As fire drills are usually announced, most students appeared confused in the initial moments of the event, unsure of what course of action to take. However, when assistant principal Mike Dunson announced over the loudspeaker, “This is not a drill,” both staff and students quickly began evacuating.
Unlike previous drills, during this evacuation teachers were asked to perform a headcount and everyone was required to move away from the building and down the block.
Lower House teacher Matt Rohrer described the situation as, “Very frightening for students and staff.” At his former school Lyons Community, Rohrer experienced an unplanned evacuation, which while it did not harm property or persons, caused a sense of worry and fear in the school.
Students mostly expressed annoyance in response to the cold and disruption of lunch-time. Upper House student Ella Bryant said, “I’m hungry,” and “people are acting way too crazy.”
Schools throughout the city are required to prepare for emergency situations. Last month near Stuyvesant High School, a deadly terrorist attack resulted in eight deaths. Although the attack was not within the building, students and staff had to engage in a “shelter-in.” This is one of three “General Response Protocols,” which include lockdowns and evacuations. During a shelter-in, students must remain in the building and teachers are instructed to “increase situational awareness” and “conduct business as usual.” At Stuyvesant, students stayed in the building long after school hours, with the shelter-in lifted at around 5 pm.
(Photo Credit: Steven Pineda)
On Monday, November 20 Dunson called a staff meeting in response to the evacuation to “review some safety protocols.” Staff attended and received some guidance on emergency readiness.