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WHERE THE H**L IS THE ENTRANCE?

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Last Wednesday, my editor and I went over to La Marque High School to
learn about an augmented reality experience some of the students were having. However,
we almost missed the experience, because we couldn’t figure out how to get into the school building.
We knew that we had to go to the front office, in order to check in and get our visitor badges. The
problem? We couldn’t figure out where the front office was. We tried three different
doors before we found one that was unlocked. “This
must be it,” Hart, my editor, said. But when we went into
the building, we were told that we had entered the health
center and had to go around to the other side of the building
for the front office. So we went to the other side and
when we arrived we saw a student walking towards the
same doors. These doors turned out to be locked and a
teacher came to the door, spoke briefly to the student and
let him in. Then, this same teacher, remained blocking the
door and when Hart and I approached and explained our
reason for being at the school, he directed to us to yet
another side of the school, to where the front office actually
was. And finally, after 15 minutes and 200 calories
burned, we found the front entrance. Thankfully.
But while we were running around the building, trying
to avoid puddles and walking through muddy grass, I
realized how safe the school is. Which, as we all know,
is extremely important in this day and age. The majority
of the doors were locked and the ones that weren’t led
directly into a location where administrators and/or teachers
were quite close. For example, there was that one
teacher, who stood in front of the door and wouldn’t let
Hart and I inside. He was very polite in telling us where to
go to check-in, but I knew that, if we asked to be let inside
so we could take a shortcut to the front office (rather than
having to walk all the way around the building) he would
have denied. And, quite frankly, I appreciate that.
And so this got me thinking on ways we can protect
our students and teachers, without having to arm teachers.
Because I think that is a really bad idea. I am currently
a Masters student and when I graduate, I will have
my degree in Early Childhood Education. After I get my
degree, I will start to work towards earning my teaching
certificate. And after I have completed the certification
program, and taking my tests, I would be fully equipped
with all the knowledge, skills and requirements to teach
early childhood through sixth grade. Now, I probably
won’t teach past the second grade, because—in the past
three years—I am realizing that my passion lies in teaching
our youngest residents and shaping the future generation.
And let me be perfectly honest—the idea of arming
myself, as an aspiring teacher, does not make me happy.
There are lots of other ways to keep our students safe.
When I have gone to schools to do my field experience,
visitors cannot enter the main building without being
buzzed in, but they can enter the front office. That needs
to change. Visitors shouldn’t even be allowed inside the
building until they have been checked-in. You know those
little kiosks they have at the entrance of a movie theater,
where people buy their tickets? Schools need those so
the front office staff can check identification.
Furthermore, instead of having metal detectors—
because it’s a school and not a prison—every single visitor
should be searched before entering the building. How
do we do this? By looking through bags and purses, not
letting bags beyond a certain dimension enter the building
and doing a quick pat-down. I know that this seems
very intrusive and a bit excessive for a school, but I’d
rather our students be safe. And lastly, just as seen at
La Marque High School, I think we should have teachers,
administrators, on-campus officers and other staff
constantly patrolling the halls; especially near entrances
and exits.
With all this said, I know that sometimes the problem of
safety isn’t from outside sources, but from people inside
the school. I learned that recently when I heard on the
radio of students bringing weapons into school, hiding
them somehow—either in their backpacks or under their
jackets. I don’t want to say the students should be subject
to pat-downs. So I offer alternatives. For one thing,
schools should make it rule that, when you enter the
campus, all jackets and caps need to be removed. They
need to make it clear that pants with extremely large
pockets are not needed. And, if it comes to this, schools
can decide to require students to bring see through backpacks.
When I was in middle school we had a massive
problem at our school of people bringing in drugs. So we
all had to get see through bags.
Now I know that a lot of the stuff I have said is excessive,
far-fetched and will never happen. I know a lot of you
may not agree. I know all this will cost money. Some of
you may be shaking your head in disbelief as you read
this thinking “what is she talking about?” Well I’m sorry.
But if no one wants to tackle this problem at its source,
then we have to take other precautions in keeping our students
safe at their schools. Because every child deserves
to go to school, get educated and get home. And, soon
enough, I will be married and have children. And I don’t
want to have to wonder whether or not I should send
them to school. I know the problems we have been having
aren’t strictly at schools. But, as an aspiring educator,
this is where all my attention is currently directed. So this
is what I write about.
I hope you can see where I’m coming from and I hope
that we are going to see some type of change. Everyone
deserves the right to feel safe in their schools, their
churches, their movie theaters, their nightclubs and any
other place they visit.

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