$1.1 million grant allows school to update security


Jordin Baker

Success Coach T.J. Lovejoy responds to a message on his radio.

Schools have been increasingly more dangerous in the past 20 years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Threat prevention measures such as more advanced security cameras, identification devices and alarm systems have begun appearing in schools across the nation. SHS is joining these schools by introducing new security measures schoolwide.

“It makes me realize just how efficient technology can help or how technology can help with efficiency,” Assistant Principal Andrew Ashcraft said.

In July, Perry Township received a grant, valued at $1.1 million, from Motorola to improve and streamline its security technology at SHS and PMHS, with the two schools acting as platforms to showcase Motorola’s products. Included in this grant was improved security cameras, radios and identification software.

“It was very exciting…,” Associate Superintendent Chris Sampson said. “We could increase the security of our buildings. We are increasing the response time in our ability to respond to situations, all at no cost, so it was very exciting.” 

Motorola is an American multinational telecommunications company. It gifted SHS its new technology to be placed around the school. The company began this security reinforcement with a pilot program last school year at PMHS in order to see if it was efficient in assuring school safety. The feedback was positive, and procedures migrated to SHS for the upcoming school year.

Haley Miller
Students are required
to wear lanyards that
correspond with their
graduating class. These
lanyards help administration
and teachers identify
students, and they also allow
for a faster procedure when
students are buying lunches.

The first of many changes is the most noticeable to students: lanyards. Students are expected to wear them at all times throughout the school day. The school IDs attached to the lanyards are used for student identification, buying lunch in the cafeteria and borrowing library books. Lanyards are also going to be used as an entrance into school dances. They will help staff recognize the grade level each student is in, as they are color coded based on class. 

“I honestly don’t really notice (the lanyards)…,” junior Nathan Taylor said. “I think it’s a really good idea. It has its ups and downs, but I think it’s very good to identify who people are.”

  If students were to forget their lanyard they would need to report to Student Services to receive a temporary ID. These are able to be thrown away at the end of the day. However, since about 80 students per day receive one of these IDs, staff is trying to put emphasis on remembering lanyards.

“I don’t want to give consequences (for forgetting lanyards),” Assistant Principal A.J. Martzall said. “I want the behavior to change.”

To improve identification capability, “state-of-the-art” cameras, according to Martzall, now feature new technology that allows them to recognize a person’s appearance as they are entering the school. Motorola has updated the software on the inside security cameras. In addition, the new cameras outside are solar paneled, so they are less expensive.

“In the past, (watching the cameras) used to be cumbersome,” Principal Brian Knight said. “Like you would watch a screen, and then sometimes (the person on camera) would turn a corner, and then you would go to a couple of different cameras and wait for them to come out.”

Sampson worked with Motorola to provide the grant to Perry Township. He says SHS and PMHS were the first in the nation to put the company’s new security features in place. 

“(Motorola was) looking for a large district in a big city that could test their product,” Sampson said.

Kayla Brown
Administration has labeled
“Go” and “Stop” doors for
students to use during the day.
This map highlights the doors
available for usage during the
school day.

The procedure for entering the school has changed this year as well. In the morning, most of the doors will be open to allow students an efficient way to reach their classes. However, once the bell has rung, only certain doors will remain remain unlocked, and students will need to proceed to Door 1 to enter the school. Administration has labeled doors used for exiting during the school day with red and green signs, identified as “Go” and “Stop” doors. If any “Stop” doors are used, administration will be sent a notification and take action when necessary.

Senior students who have an unassigned study hall will need to report to Door 1 as they are re-entering the school. Administration is aware that these students don’t want to make the trip from the student parking lot to the front entrance, so they are working on a plan that will allow seniors to enter a secure entrance at Door 12. 

“It’s very frustrating to walk to Door 1, especially if it’s raining,” senior Tori Bell said.

Kelsey Jones
The grant allowed SHS to
update its camera system,
allowing for smarter cameras
with more precise imaging.

Social studies teacher Joseph Leonard believes that some students don’t fully understand all of the things that go into the new security measures. He is appreciative of the extent to which to which administration has gone for the safety of the school. 

“I think it’s easy to complain about those things, especially as students, but everything (administration does) is for our safety every day,” Leonard said.

Student feedback surrounding the new security measures has been mixed, some students don’t see these new measures as being very beneficial. Sophomore Vincent Duncan does not even realize much of a need for them in the first place.

“I don’t actually feel safer at all,” Duncan said. “I don’t understand why they are put in place. I don’t think many people really come in and out of school. There’s not really much of an issue (and) there wasn’t much of an issue before.”

Sophomore Miranda Deane says she says she feels a little safer and understands the need for the new measures, but she wishes that SHS could implement metal detecting equipment.

“Even if you had facial recognition in the cameras, you could still walk into school with a gun in your backpack,” Deane said. “You could be the next school shooter, and no one would know because the security measures are just your face.”

Knight says he is happy with how the school has responded to this year’s changes in security. He has witnessed students encouraging others to wear their lanyards and informing one another about obeying the new procedures.

Current data shows how important these procedures can be. In the 2015-2016 school year, 79% of public schools recorded one or more acts of violence, theft, and many more, totaling around 1.4 million crimes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“I wish we didn’t have to do any of this…,” Knight said. “We live in a day and age where unfortunately we have to take some measures to make sure we’re safe as a school (and) make sure you’re safe when you’re here.”