The School Lockdown

picture from WRAL

In a dark room, students huddled against each other in the corners of their classrooms, fearing for their lives and the lives of their friends as they heard police officers roaming the halls and helicopter blades whirring overhead.

On Friday, March 9 seven teenagers entered the school, coming to pick up a girl after talking with her online. When questioned by school officials, they couldn’t properly answer the questions and three ran off, causing a school lockdown and panic within students and parents.

When an announcement came on the intercom that that lockdown was not a drill, students were thrown into a very real and terrifying experience. Turning off the lights, blocking the doors with tables or filing cabinets, and arming themselves with even the simplest of objects, students hid in their rooms, expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.

Senior Nick Moston, the president of the senior class, looked to the people around him to be able to get through the ordeal. With the many school shootings that have happened in the past few years, and the most recent Florida Parkland shooting that affected the nation, the idea of this being a shooting was fresh on Moston’s mind.

“My first thought and reaction was that it was a school shooting. Any person that wanted to cause harm, I thought, would choose a time of chaos in the school, like when we were changing classes,” Moston said. “The first people I thought of during the first panic were the people in the same class as me. Since we are all really good friends in my 2nd block I felt that if it were a school shooter going around the building that those are the people that I would like to fight with and protect.”

Moston and his classmates were prepared to do whatever it took to try and survive the situation, but he also knew he could depend on the men and women who responded to the lockdown to get the students to safety.  

“In the first 15 minutes I thought it was a shooter and from what we heard, so that was a tense first few minutes and then I heard the helicopter above and an officer entered our classroom and I knew it was something big. It was nerve wracking but I knew my life was in good hands of the officers and staff,” Moston said. “I was with my friends and I felt safe because if something happened we knew what we had to do and fight an intruder and I had confidence in the ones next to me.”

American Sign Language teacher Amber Buchholz had not been at the school when the lockdown happened and she felt helpless as she learned of what was happening.

“It was terrible. Not knowing what was going on, not knowing if they were safe, not being able to comfort them. All of it was terrible. I tried to watch the news, but knowing that was my kids, I had to turn it off until the lockdown was lifted,” Buchholz said. “I was a mess. I was shaking and praying. I know it cannot compare to actually being in the building but I wish I had been. I would rather have gone through it with my kids then watched from the outside.”

It was later learned that none of the teens were carrying weapons, and what had happened had been a big misunderstanding. During the lockdown all Buchholz could think about was her student’s safety and was finally able to breathe when she finally learned none of them were in danger.

“A flood of relief washed over me when I realized that it was not an active shooter and was able to make contact with my students through another teacher,” Buchholz said. “I immediately made contact with my kids through Google Classroom letting them know that I was so glad they were safe and was proud of them for how they handled it. I had been a wreck not knowing if my kids were okay and if they had found a safe place to be. I hated that they had to go through that without me.”

Senior Ivette Calix has late arrival and on the day of the lockdown she arrived to the school for third block and was met by cop cars and panicked parents. Being on the outside of the school at a time like that was startling for Calix, but she soon relaxed as she was told there was no threat.

“Being outside of the school felt weird, but not too bad,” Calix said. “The only reason it was weird is because from the information given I knew it wasn’t anything serious, so seeing parents get so worried and seeing so many cops made me feel weird because I knew nothing was wrong, but at first I was concerned because I just thought ‘what would I do if any of my friends died or something and I’m at home sleeping’?”

Buchholz felt proud of the way her students and the school were able to get through the situation, saying they did everything they were supposed to in a time of panic.

“Considering the information we had, I believe the school and my kids did the best they could. You never know until you are in that situation. The speed at which everything was handled and knowing my students found objects to push against the door is the best anyone could ask,” Buchholz said. “I am glad we as a school and county had already begun to take extra steps even before Friday happened. I am also glad to know those steps are now being accelerated due to Friday.”

Even though Calix wasn’t too upset while waiting outside of the school during the lockdown, she still wanted to make sure her friends were okay after going through an experience like that.

“After students were let out I called everyone I could. I was on the phone with my parents for a long time discussing everything that had happened and after students were released I called my friends to make sure everyone was okay and I called my best friend to make sure she didn’t need a ride and was okay,” Calix said. “After all that I tried to not talk about it, just to leave it in the past since it wasn’t a big deal, to me, at least, I’ve seen worse, but I understand why JOCO kids would freak.”

After the lockdown scare, the school has started to crack down on the safety of the students. For now, teachers and administrators will take shifts at the front doors to let people in and there is also now a place where parents can sign up to volunteer to greet people at the front doors. The school is later hoping to get technology like ID identification for extra security.

Moston thinks this new security is a step in the right direction in preventing something more serious from happening at the school. He appreciates everything the school and the officers are doing to help the student body feel safer.

“I thought the school handled it very well. I was very surprised of the response time of the officers and administration from the situation, and I think that the rest of the school, including students, cooperated well during the drill and obviously students wanted to get out to see their families after something scary like that,” Moston said. “I think the school is doing great because there’s only so little the school can do without county assistance and state assistance, but they are doing an absolutely amazing job with what they have.