Schools, movie theaters, Walmarts, churches, clubs. Even in the safest place in the safest city in the country, no one is ever really safe. More places are starting to take extra precautions, including one school in Michigan.
According to Michiganradio.org, school officials in Fruitport, Michigan (just about a half-hour outside Grand Rapids), spent $48 million to add features that would provide more safety for the students, including a security system that can lock down the school and its classrooms on-demand and curved corridors and “wing walls” to provide hiding places for students and teachers in the event an active shooter enters the building.
Fruitport Community Schools SUperintendent Bob Szymoniak explains the more secure design elements aren’t meant to alarm people. “We put these things in place in such a way that if you looked at them, you didn’t know that is a security measure,” he said. “For that specific reason, we want students to feel that the school is warm and welcoming, not some type of refuge or bunker to keep them safe.”
Syzmoniak recalled the El Paso mass shooting at a Walmart last month, as well as the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown in 2012 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland in 2018. The Washington Post reports there were 24 school shootings in 2018 where there were injuries or deaths and more than 228,000 students have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
Although Fruitport High School’s renovation won’t be fully completed until the summer of 2020, Szymoniak hopes the renovation will “minimize the damage they do” since it won’t be able to stop an active mass shooter.
Short lockers are also set up in a large common area so teachers can better see up to 900 students who attend classes in the building, with no lockers in the hallways. Part of the school is also getting a glass-coating with impact-resistant film and an access control system that can lock down the building by pressing a button.
Telling Michiganradio.org, Zysmoniak says he suspects such precautions are going to catch on in other school districts. “I think that it’s only responsible that school districts and communities do what they can to incorporate security measures into their schools to keep the students safe.”