The details of the school shooting on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Connecticut and the one that took place in 1999 at Columbine High School are as different as night and day.
The one similarity, however, is that many innocent people -- young and old -- unecessarily lost their lives.
While both of those incidents took place many miles from us here in Southern Indiana, they certainly have an affect.
Salem High School Principal Derek Smith said school administrators every where are paying close attention to their surroundings and policies that are already in place.
Smith added that the people who commit these senseless acts don’t take procedures and policies into consideration.
“Of course this tragedy puts everyone on alert,” Smith said. “I am sure that we will review our procedures, even though we feel we have solid procedures in place. The scary thing is that we all try to analyze events like this logically, but the perpetrators of these type incidents are not thinking logically when they commit their unspeakable acts. We will continue to review and refine our procedures and pray that we never truly need them.”
West Washington Elementary Principal Tom Rosenbaum said the week has been uneventful at his school, but he agreed with Smith that everyone is on high alert.
“I think things like the tragedy last week does make you more aware,” he said. “We went through our procedures mandated by the state. We’ve looked at our plans again and just examined things to make sure we are doing everything we possibly can to keep these students safe. I think we are doing everything possible to keep them safe.”
Rosenbaum said he sent a memo to teachers to have them review their classroom plans and also sent a letter home to parents.
Smith said procedures at Salem High School are also reviewed and the school conducts drills to make sure everyone is on the same page should a tragedy happen.
Smith said he feels Salem Community Schools is doing everything it possibly can to ensure the safety of students and staff.
“We send representatives to safety training to keep us current, we constantly check doors, we have entry procedures for patrons, we follow up on perceived threats and more,” he said. “I believe that our staff and students are as prepared as they can be to react to emergencies.”
On a personal level, Smith said the news was heartbreaking.
“It broke my heart when I heard what happened,” he said. “So many children with their entire lives in front of them were needlessly killed.”
Superintendent of Salem Schools, Dr. Lynn Reed said she went through the gambit of emotions when she heard of the news of the shooting, as well.
“The first thing that flashed through my mind was that the children and adults must have been terrified,” Reed said. “I grieved for the losses - -the loss of lives, innocence, and feeling of security. And then anger - - profound fury that this could happen.”
Reed said on Tuesday of last week she meet with the mayor, chief of police, assistant chief of police and Salem’s fire chief.
“We discussed ways to improve first responder time, providing a space for police officers to be in our buildings to work on reports and other paperwork, connecting our camera systems to the police department’s, and various other security ideas,” Reed said.
Reed said there is no plans to share all the schools security plans to the public for obvious reasons.
“Not all security plans should be shared with the public because when everyone knows what procedures you may follow, it is easier for them to circumvent your security,” she said. “ Security plans are one of the few items that school boards may discuss in executive session - behind closed doors.”