President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will be visiting SHS on Friday, Nov. 2, to campaign for Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun. The rally will be held in the SHS Fieldhouse at 7 p.m., but doors will open at 4 p.m. With such short notice of this event, many want to know what exactly this means for SHS.
“When it comes down to it, it is a facility rental…,” Principal Brian Knight said. “It doesn’t mean we are taking any side on anything. We are renting out our facility.”
Knight found out about the possibility of this event Sunday night. Event coordinators came to check out SHS Monday, so there was no official contract with the White House until sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning.
The price of the rental is what Knight, although unsure of an exact number, says is “well above” a normal rental. Perry Township Superintendent Patrick Mapes has yet to respond to the request of the exact numbers. What is for sure is that all money goes towards the district and can make its way back to SHS. Money will also be made from selling concessions and will go towards Booster Club just like any other event.
The Fieldhouse has a capacity of 7,124 people. However, the basketball court will be used as standing room, so they are hoping to fit about 8,000 people. Any overflowed seating will be in the auditorium with a live stream of the rally.
“Right now we have a responsibility to do, and we have to work with secret service and law enforcement,” Knight said. “We have to make sure our building is as secure as possible.”
Secret service, state police, IMPD, Southport PD and Perry Township PD are all coordinating and working together to ensure the safety of this event. Beginning Thursday morning there will be 24-hour security on the property of SHS.
On the day of the event, no one will be allowed on the grounds until 1 p.m. or until after faculty and students are cleared from the property. The east parking lot will be completely blocked off and all cars will have to be cleared from that lot. The west parking lot will become public parking. Roads are not expected to be blocked off until closer to the start of the event.
After the property has been completely swept, nothing besides the people attending will be allowed to come in. To Knight’s understanding, protesters will not be allowed on property. Everyone that does enter must go through metal detectors and further security measures, if necessary.
Safety concerns are not all that have been brought to Knight’s attention. Since public knowledge of the event, Knight has heard a fair share of reactions from differing viewpoints. Some have expressed that it is disrespectful to the values of the school and the diverse community of SHS. Others believe that it is an honor to have the President of the U.S. at SHS.
“It’s not like opening up the gym to him is going to change anything we do here or how we operate…,” Knight said. “I think the one thing it does open up is the opportunity for him to come to a school that is really high performing, that has all that diversity and still finds ways to be successful.”
Regardless of how one may feel politically, Knight sees this as a unique opportunity for the community and views this as something that will go down in history for the 127 years of SHS being open.