King’s Ridge using ‘all school’ approach for student safety

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With news of school lockdowns and armed shooters on campus becoming more prevalent, officials at Kings Ridge Christian School are taking preemptive action when it comes to the safety of their students.

Recently the school implemented a program to involve their entire school community in training for actions they hope will never have to be used in real life.

“After the Sandy Hook incident we made the commitment to look even further at everything that could be done to make the environment as safe as possible for our students,” said Lowrie McCown, associate headmaster at Kings Ridge.

School staff members were back from summer break only a few days before they started training for a Standard Response Protocol system that can be used for a variety of classroom situations.

Last week, more than 400 King’s Ridge parents met for a Campus Security meeting to learn more about the school safety plans, and the role they would play when students are involved in a number of security scenarios.

“The system was adopted from a security plan called ‘I love u guys’, named after the text message sent by Emily Keyes to her parents as she was held hostage [and subsequently] killed by a gunman at [Columbine High School] in 2006,” explained McCown.

The protocol involves a wide gamut of response protocol, ranging from the familiar--fire or tornado drill—to a lockdown if there is a threat inside the building or a campus evacuation with a reunification plan for families and students.

“Our facilities were designed with security as a priority with closed circuit cameras and buzzer accessed doorways,” said McCown. “[We’ve also] added security software to screen photo IDs with background checks for all campus visitors, limit access to campus traffic, and a number of other initiatives.”

School staff also attended security clinics where they networked with city of Milton emergency response officials and partnered with them to create an emergency response plan for the campus. If something happened at the school, law enforcement officials would be on the King’s Ridge campus within minutes and direct the overall response.

Students are also involved in drills for all situations led by their teachers who have been trained using a federal protocol established through the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

“It was determined one reason the attempted shooter situation at the McNair school in DeKalb County campus had a positive outcome was because the students had drilled and knew what to do ahead of time,” said McCown. “They maintained a calm demeanor and had an organized reunification plan.”

Parents say the all-school training provides a level of comfort to them as they send their kids off to school.

“Even though children become more independent as they get older, our concerns as parents don’t change,” said parent Rhonda Henricksen. “It gives me peace of mind to know [school leaders] they are thinking about [school safety].”