Local schools are reminded to practice lock downs - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Local schools are reminded to practice lock downs


by Brittany Earl

WAUSAU(WAOW)--It's every principals nightmare, a gun inside school walls. Monday afternoon students from Marinette High School lived through what most only ever talk about.

A student at Marinette High School held 23 of his peers and a teacher hostage for 5 hours. School administrators in Northcentral Wisconsin watched the situation unfold. Many principals say they never expect a situation like Marinette's to happen to their school but to be safe they plan for it.

Larry Theiss, Newman Catholic High School's Principal says, "I think every school has had a safety plan in place basically since 9/11 going back to 2001 when all schools really started evaluating their safety procedures and really saying to themselves what do we have to do in case of a situation."

Staff and students at Newman Catholic High School practice all safety procedures every fall and following spring. From fire drills to lock downs Theiss says communication is key that's why his school has a crisis team in place which includes himself and other staff members.

"If a stranger walks into a building and we're not sure who that person is we'll go into a soft lock down mode, a hard lock down is when there is a known threat or person with a gun or weapon. At that point we go into a hard lock down," said Theiss.

Melissa Panetta, Newman Catholic High School Student says, "Practicing is really important or otherwise you wouldn't know what to do if that would happen to you. By the school making us practice certain drills it will definitely help."

School also works closely with safely officials to make sure everyone is on the same page in a crisis situation.

"We passed on to the police a map of our building so that they know what each building looks like. We also number our entrances so if it's entrance J they know where to go and what classrooms are near that entrance. It gives those community agencies a very clear shot as to what they have to do if they are called for the safety of our students," said Theiss.

But students like Panetta say even with all the practice in the world, you can't prepare yourself for the worst.

"You never really know for sure and you never really think it's going to happen to you but then you go through these drills and you think your prepared but really it kind of just depends on if it happens to you and how you'll react to it," said Panetta.

Online Reporter: Brittany Earl


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