BY RUTH TAYLOR Staff Writer
Littleton High School students and faculty went through a new evacuation procedure Thursday in the aftermath of severe criticism of the school's response to a bomb scare on Tuesday.
With the police and fire departments in attendance, things went smoothly, according to Assistant Principal Alan Smith. He said school officials used the drill as a chance to review procedures for any further improvements. Students were taken to Remich Park instead of the Daisy Bronson School.
On Tuesday, Smith evacuated the building when he got wind of a rumor that had been circulating for a few days that a bomb might go off in the cafeteria at lunchtime on the anniversary of the violence at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
The shootings there occured when two high school students walked into Columbine and gunned down 12 of their peers and a teacher before killing themselves.
The rumor at LHS started, like the game of "Gossip," when a couple of students overheard others talking about their reaction to graffiti in the LHS boys' bathroom relating to the Colorado incident.
In the wake of Tuesday's traumatic event at LHS, Smith met Wednesday morning with students grade by grade to talk about the situation the day before.
A crisis team of counselors was also at the school Wednesday.
"Things went well. If kids needed to talk, they were available to them. A few kids met individually with counselors throughout the day from time to time, and one group of about five girls met with the counselors for 45 minutes," he said.
A number of students at Tuesday night's meeting said they were anxious for their safety at school after the bomb rumor circulated. However, Smith and Gallen Vocational School Prinicipal Forrest Goodwin said all the students who had expressed fear for their safety at the meeting were in school Wednesday morning.
At the meeting, some parents said the evacuation at lunchtime on Tuesday had been chaotic, and that sending students to the Daisy Bronson School across the street would not be adequate if a bomb were to go off at LHS.
School officials agreed to publish improvements to their safety procedures within 48 hours of Tuesday's meeting.
Goodwin said, "We took the parents' concerns into consideration in revising the procedures."
Smith, who has been in charge of the school since Maurice Stebbins suffered a heart attack over a week ago, is sending a letter home to parents and guardians explaining the steps that have been taken to improve school safety procedures.
Smith's letter to parents states that revisions to the evacuation procedure have been made; there will be more drills to better prepare students and faculty in case of emergency; access to the building will be decreased during day and evening hours to increase security; and police presence and support services, such as counselors and social workers, will be increased.
Smith's letter to parents, which is going out today, encouraged them to "talk to your children; encourage your children to discuss safety issues with school personnel."
He added, "I believe it is through communication and inclusive dialogue that we as a community can resolve important issues such as school safety.