Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hamburg School ahead of the game with security

Similar to how the 50s and 60s had Duck-and-Cover Drills in case of Soviet attacks, this generation’s current fear is the school shooting, which, while rare in its practice, is just as relevant and fear inducing as anything in America’s past.

But while some schools scramble to implement new precautions in case anyone wants to copycat the Virginia Tech incident, one school system is already a few steps ahead when it comes to protecting America’s youth—the Hamburg School District.

“We had security installed during the summer,” says Hamburg principal Steven Engravalle, who calls the new, beefed up security that allows the police to see inside the school from the station and even their own squad cars, an “eerie coincidence.

“Any advantage that we can give to the good guys is what we want,” says Engravalle.

The new security system, installed on April 17th, allows real-time video footage inside the school to be seen by police at the same time it’s happening, creating a shared link between the school and the station, which is a state first.

“The school has the most valuable resource in mind—the children,” Engravalle says.

It’s also helpful to police officers who can monitor what’s going on even after school hours, which hopefully creates a deterrent for any midnight marauders.
“With the recordings, the purpose is tri-fold,” says patrolman, Erik Aronson. “We can monitor any unlawful activities, one. Two, God forbid, if something happens, there will be an alarm call and we’ll be there right away. And three, we’ll have archives, so in case there’s criminal mischief after school, it will be captured right there, [on the cameras].”

But besides the police department and the school that benefits from these modifications, the ones, besides the students, who might benefit the most from these additions are the parents themselves.

“I’ll be carrying around a Blackberry,” says Engravalle.

And while this may not sound like anything that would make any parents do a back flip or swoon, Engravalle offers an explanation.

“This thing [the Blackberry] can be put to great use when there’s inclement weather,” says Engravalle, who’s talking about the ability to inform parents on whether there’s a snow day via phone calls, text messages, or email. “And the beauty of it is, they all receive the notice at the same time.”

This new system, which will go out in three different colors—red, yellow, and green—will vary depending on the importance of the matter, with red being the most important, an early school closing being an example, and green being the least important.

And costing only three dollars a student, this—coupled with the grants and Homeland Security funded $23,000 security plan—means parents will be paying next to nothing for all the benefits they’ll be seeing with these new additions, a feat Superintendent, Robert McCann, would like to thank the board of education for.

“Without the support of the Board and the public, our project would not have happened” says McCann.

Hopefully, there will never, ever be another incident like Virginia Tech, but if there is, Hamburg School is about as about as ready as it will ever be.


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