Hills Responds to Untimely Lockdown

Months+after+the+traumatic+events+of+the+lockdown+in+December%2C+all+is+well%2C+although+the+incident+still+lives+in+students+and+staffs%E2%80%99+memories.

Sophie Picone

Months after the traumatic events of the lockdown in December, all is well, although the incident still lives in students and staffs’ memories.

Allison Slovak and Sophie Picone

Warren Hills students and staff were in a state of trepidation one day in early December at 12:39 pm, when an announcement came over the loudspeaker: “Lockdown, this is a lockdown emergency.” At first, most  assumed it was a drill, but after the bell that would usually end the block passed with no announcement to end the lockdown, they began to think  it might not be. 

As time continued to pass, armed police officers ran through the school building, unlocking doors and clearing classrooms. After each room had been checked, the police determined that there was no threat in the building and at 2:08 pm-–89 minutes after the drill was announced—students were released to spend the last ten minutes of the day in their final class.

According to an email sent out by Principal Christopher Kavcak, the lockdown was triggered by the school’s LENS (Lockdown Emergency Notification System) while the school was “attempting to reboot [the] phone system.” A second lockdown announcement went off about halfway through the event, as a result of administration testing this theory. 

In an interview by The Streak staff, Principal Kavcak explained that the LENS system has numerous ways of being triggered for the most safety and while the administration knows how LENS was triggered in this case, it remains unknown why it was the rebooting of the phone system that caused it to go off. 

“We’ve worked with the engineers to make sure that we have the least chance of something like this happening again,” Kavcak said.  “Updates have been made.” 

During the lockdown, students, parents and teachers had different reactions. Since the administration had not yet figured out that it was a false alarm, some panicked. Those at home who received messages from students were worried and confused. 

According to a statement on the Washington Township Police Department Facebook page, many parents responded, yet “remained off school grounds until the school was clear and the incident was over.” The police department also thanked the parents for responding in this way, because of the difficulties that arise when parents attempt to get involved in potentially dangerous school incidents. The calm reactions of parents are surprising, because not knowing if their friends and family were in danger was certainly a source of stress for those at home.

Sophomore Tyrik Iman-Williams, who had stayed home that day, said, “I got a text from my friends asking if everybody was okay and no one was explaining to me what happened.”

Inside the school building, students and teachers alike were equally confused. 

Senior Ryan Schulman said “I was kind of scared. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Experiences varied from room to room. 

“I was in the Ceramics’ room. The police officers made us put our hands up. It was scary, considering that there had been an actual school shooting the week before.” said junior Ainsley Fitz, referencing the school shooting that had occurred just days earlier in Oxford, Michigan.

Ms. Nicole Clark, an art teacher in Room 129, had a less intense experience. 

“I teach Adaptive Art,” she said. “So I tried to stand closer to the police when they came in the door to tell them I had students with disabilities and they were really sweet and responded kindly.”

Freshman Brianna Mizerek was shaken by her experience. Mizerek was at lunch when the lockdown began, and was instructed to hide in the back of the cafeteria, along with others..

“I was by the door and the police officer kicked the door open. He had a really big gun and he yelled at us to sit down and be quiet,” she said. “It was scary because I thought it was real.”

Junior Gretchen Albrecht, who was in the band room closet, had a similar experience.

 “I was scared out of my mind. I was getting texts from my friends saying that the police were coming to rooms with guns, but the police never ended up coming to our room,” she said. “Principal Kavcak came, though.” 

Overall, most of those who were inside the building that day said they felt traumatized, but grateful for the quick response from the authorities. 

Frau Jessica Morgan, the German teacher in Room 310, said it best:

 “It was worse the next day when it settled in what had happened and what could have been,” she said, “I’m thankful for the procedures the school has in place to keep us safe.”