Published in the April 4 – 17, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life

Sarah Starks

Through all the 17 school shootings that have occurred this year and the many casualties that have happened as a result, the Gilroy Unified School District has been making some changes to their safety protocol. Specifically, Christopher High School has started locking all gates to get onto campus as well as parking lots at 8:15 a.m. Once the student parking lots are locked, they must park in the staff lot. If a student needs to leave campus and get out of the lots, a supervisor will unlock the parking lot gate and allow the student out relocking the gate behind them. Many Christopher High School students believe that this course of action is unnecessary, while others, including myself, feel safer with this protocol.

This new protocol was enacted following the March 14 walk-out to honor the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Rather than interrupting class time and abandoning the learning environment for 17 minutes, we supported the students who wanted to commemorate the victims during our brunch break. On this day, students who wanted to participate wore black and orange and met at the flagpole in front of our campus. At this time, fellow students listened and cheered as a group of passionate Cougars introduced the victims of the Parkland shooting and explained their role and impact on the Florida city and in school. After they had gone through each student, we released biodegradable balloons with the victim’s names on them. Each student present glanced up toward the sky, bidding farewell to those who lost their lives.

The impact of the Parkland shooting has been the final straw in pushing GUSD and Christopher to close off the campus throughout the day to keep our students safe.

“I feel safer knowing that they’re making an effort doing something to protect students and it’s a good start to keep students safe,” senior Haley Berube said. “We, however, can never be prepared for the situation unless it were truly to happen.”

Many students like Haley agree that the school feels like a safer environment with locked gates to prevent possible threats from entering the premises. Another senior, Natalie Roberts, commented, “I believe that due to the new regulations that GUSD has put forth to have the gates closed and regulated during school hours, students, including myself, feel much safer going to school.” Students were initially questioning the new protocol once the email was released by Principal Caroline Calero, but we soon gained an appreciation for the changes being made throughout the school to make CHS a safe zone for students. Junior Nick McCabe voiced his opinion saying, “It gives me a greater sense of safety knowing that not just anybody can come walking onto campus.” It sure seems that Christopher and the GUSD have a gained the students approval in making the school a safer place and a better learning environment for the Cougars.

Closing off the campus throughout the day seems to have a positive effect on the CHS students. Their attitudes toward their new and safer environment reveal a sense of relief in that their fear of attending school has dissipated. Many students throughout America feel that with the shootings that have been occurring, school is becoming an unsafe zone. Christopher High School and the Gilroy Unified School District have taken a step in the right direction to keeping their students safe and making our schools secure for each student and staff member.

Sarah Starks is a junior at Christopher High School. She is involved in ASB, is student board representative for CHS, and enjoys playing softball in her free time. After she graduates from high school, she plans on attending the University of California, Davis, where she may continue her softball career while majoring in psychology and minoring in anthropology.

 

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