On Friday, November 18, the school gathered in the Fr. Sullivan Gymnasium to talk about ALICE, a program that will help students and adults keep the school safe in the case of an emergency.
As a school community, we may sometimes take a sense of a secure learning environment for granted. We are taught on a very safe and secure campus that is protected by a security team and off-duty police officers. The purpose of ALICE was not to scare us, but to prepare for an event we hope never to happen, a shooter or intruder at our school.
ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Escape/Evacuate.
If we see something at our school, the first thing to do is tell somebody. If there is no alarm going off, you may be the first person to see the intruder. Do not count on someone else to do it for you.
Locking down is something we have often practiced. We have the newly installed red door brace system in each room to help bar the door. After that, it is important to barricade the entrance with things like desks or cabinets.
Informing goes along with alerting. Take out your phone and text or call someone. On each of our wildcards we have the number for campus security who have a direct connection to the Cleveland Police Department.
Countering is something any of us could need to do in the event that escape is not possible. If somebody is about to attack you, you have the right to defend yourself. Do whatever you can to defend your own life or the life of another student. Throw things, or pile on the assailant.
If you are not in a place where you can lockdown, escape. Get in your car and go. Run somewhere far away. The designated evacuation location is St. Pats down the street. As Mr. Diaz said, “If there is a school shooter, I would rather find you at St. Eds than here.”
We received a few speakers on Friday. Officer Dark, a Cleveland Clinic Police Officer, gave us a rundown of what ALICE is and why it is important by giving us examples of tragedies in the past. He stated these things can be prevented or stopped early on, so if you see or hear something you should report it or get the person help.
Mr. Diaz, head of campus security, talked about some of the other things we must do to stay safe and about the security team at Ignatius. Mr. Sanders talked about how we need to come together and support peers so something like this does not happen. Captain Chura spoke about what school security meant to him, especially because his son, Alex Chura ’18, goes to school here.
So what does this mean for us? Well, the biggest thing I got out of this was I am my brother’s keeper. We are called to defend one another. We need to be proactive should a situation occur. It is important we build each other up, as many school shootings stem from bullying. There are concerned persons boxes around the school, one of which is right outside the library.
Many students had reactions to the presentation. Matt Lipaj ‘17 said, “ It is comforting to know we live in a school community that prioritizes our safety.” Dan Romer ‘18 told me, “ It was informative but I felt I knew most of what was said already but nonetheless, still important to go over, it is our safety.”
After the ALICE meeting, I met with Mr. Franzinger and had a discussion about what was said in the meeting. I started by asking him what his role is in student safety. Basically, he would call lockdown, call 911, try himself to take down the assailant, a whole multitude of things, it really depends on the situation. I also found out that all of the faculty have been certified under ALICE training.
Mr. Franzinger told me that when he walks into school, he is always vigilant. He was not saying our school is not safe, but when people’s safety is on the line, it pays to be extra cautious. He also gave me an insight as to why ALICE is controversial, because of the “counter” part of it. There were a few parents that were upset they son may be called upon to protect another. He recounted a story how once he was asked what he would do in the event of an intruder, and he answered he would defend himself and throw things, which surprised his coworkers. He made the point to me that in these shooter’s heads they already have their mind made up to shoot you, so you might as well defend yourself. “We value life, part of this is to defend life, and each other’s lives.”
We have to remember everything that was said Friday. It is for the safety of our friends, our family, our school community. I would also like to extend a thank you to Mr. Franzinger, Mr. Diaz and the security team, and the Cleveland Police Officers that keep us all safe.