Students Get Active In Response to Evac
By Sophia O’Neal, Clarion Staff
The recent evacuation on Friday, March 16 raised a lot of questions for many students, parents and faculty about Kennedy’s emergency plans and procedures. There is no set protocol for events, but there absolutely should be. Due to the recent shooting and bomb threats, the Kennedy student body has been really shaken up and demand answers and a sounder plan if anything happens like this again. In response, the recently formed Student Welfare Club held a discussion after school about having more efficient evacuation and emergency plans in general.
The discussion acknowledged everything they thought went well, one being how the administration quickly responded to the incoming threat and treated it seriously and how the evacuation plan was effective on such a short notice. Students and faculty were told to go to the Elks Lodge so they could be picked up them up there. One former McClatchy student who now attends school here explained that John F. Kennedy’s evacuation was much more organized than McClatchy’s, which occurred last year due to another bomb threat.
The discussion also acknowledged many of the problems that came with the evacuation and other emergency plans. The evacuation was very hectic, given this was the first time John F. Kennedy ever had to evacuate the campus in such an manner. In the meeting, students also called for easily accessible emergency messages in multiple languages. During the evacuation, the school used Twitter as a means to keep people up to date, as well as automated messages sent to parents and guardians. The problem was that these automated messages were difficult to understand for parents who are not fluent in English.
The seriousness some students and teachers lacked during the drills were discussed. They felt that students and teachers should take emergencies like this very seriously and should know what to do. Parents were hysterical about not being able to find their child in the crowds at the Elk Lodge. A few parents lashed out on teachers and police for answers about the situation, but they could not give them answers.
The club recorded all the concerns and praises under a T-chart. One column was labeled, “What went right under the circumstances” and another labeled, “Concerns.” The club president, Caleb Andrus, a sophomore, is going to make sure that the concerns voiced in the discussion are presented to the administration.
“I want to formally open a dialogue between students and administration. I feel like it is not open already. I want to call every representative that I can from John F. Kennedy High School so that we can talk about things of that nature, in this case lockdown procedure, or fire drill protocol,” Andrus explained. “We can present this to the administration and properly find out what we students want to do about any given issue that affects the entirety of JFK. I want to asses what I can do for the school, which I believe I can do a lot.”
Many students have felt a call to action since this event and the events following up to it. They are stepping up and doing what they know is right for a bigger community.
According to Brian Gleason, an English teacher at Kennedy and the club advisor, “Since last Friday’s evacuation. Caleb seems to have broadened his idea of welfare to encompass general student safety, and thus the focus at the last meeting on relaying student concerns and questions to admin about the evacuation.”
The club initially talked about student welfare and wanted to focus on aspects like student mental health, managing stress, practicing time management and other things that relate to high school life. They also plan on the future discussion about cleanliness of Kennedy, how money is allocated at the school and overall having a better campus for everyone to enjoy.