The Hopkinton School District Strengthens Violence Prevention Efforts

Kora Sileo

By Kora Sileo
Given the acts of violence in schools within the past year, staff and administrators at Hopkinton High School have taken preventative measures to protect students and teachers from potentially violent intruders.

The district as a whole has a District Safety Committee, which is led by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann DeMello. The committee looks into safety precautions in the district, and committee members working hard to find ways to make schools in the district more safe.

According to Dr. DeMello, “safety takes care of people, takes care of facilities, and it takes care of brainstorming things about best ways to communicate what you’re doing so that people are reassured that they’re feeling safe, but you’re also not tipping your hand.”

Dr. DeMello could not discuss any specifics of the school’s recent changes in safety precautions, as discussing the details would be “counter to keeping everyone safe.”

After last year’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 students and 6 teachers on December 14, 2013, the district reevaluated safety plans for schools.

“I think any district would be foolish to not take another look at what they’re doing when you hear about these things,” stated DeMello, “you always want to reassess safety, and so we’re looking at new and different strategies that are out there.”

Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, administrators at Hopkinton High School and several other schools in the Hopkinton District enacted a two-hour window of item drop off to limit the number of people entering the schools.

The two-hour window of item drop off is a procedure put in place by administrators in order to “ensure the safety and security of our schools,” as stated on the Hopkinton High School Website.

According to Cynthia Leach, an administrative support/campus aide at the high school, there has been much improvement since the new drop-off regulations were implemented.

“The less people you let in, the less chance you will have of people sneaking in,” said Leach. Leach mans ‘the booth,’ or front desk, at the high school, and she believes the new system “really helps.”

Officer Phillip Powers, the Hopkinton School District's on-duty school resource officer, patrols schools in the district in order to avert potential violent intruders. Photo by Kora Sileog
Officer Phillip Powers, the Hopkinton School District’s on-duty school resource officer, patrols schools in the district in order to avert potential violent intruders.
Photo by Kora Sileo

“For people to enter the school, they have to be buzzed in, they have to sign in, and they have to be escorted around the school if they don’t work in the district,” said Officer Phillip Powers, the on-duty School Resource Officer, “without [the two-hour window for item drop-off], you don’t have control over who enters.”

Officer Powers goes through all five schools in the district and primarily patrols the high school. He spends much of the day walking through the building in order to make his presence known.

“I am in uniform all the time to be in deterrent for criminal activity,” continued Officer Powers, “I also have the best spot in the parking lot so people know I’m here.”

The school system has recently installed better security cameras in the district, and the police department is currently looking into installing more cameras into schools in order to keep students as safe as possible.

“It’s important that students and staff members are always alert and report things that might not seem right,” continued powers, when stating the ways in which he believes students can help make the school more safe on their own.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email