Students prepare for emergenciesHundreds of children evacuated Northern Lights Elementary School grounds Friday.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Hundreds of children evacuated Northern Lights Elementary School grounds Friday.
“Check for your shoulder buddy, make sure you’re right next to them,” Amy Krois told her first-grade students as they walked down the sidewalk toward safety. “We’re at a zero as we walk … absolutely at zero, boys and girls.”
The line of students filed out of the school and past Superior Police Officer Vern Holsclaw. Some gave him a wave or a high-five as they passed. Keeping their talking levels close to a zero, the children walked off school property to a pre-determined refuge.
“Every month we have some kind of drill,” said Assistant Principal Mary Anderson-Petroske, ranging from fire and tornado drills to mock lock-downs. Emergency drills help prepare children and staff, and brings to light any changes that need to be made, staff said.
Friday’s off-site evacuation drill was less common. Principal Robyn Deshayes said they practice the procedure every other year. It could be implemented in the event of a building fire, gas leak, boiler issue, chemical spill or other situation that would require students to evacuate off site.
Once the walk was over, teachers sat their children down, counted them and gave a thumbs-up when everyone was accounted for. Support staff waited with rolling suitcases full of emergency information — sign-out sheets, bus routing numbers, medication, first aid supplies and more. Teachers and staff were surprised by how orderly the process was.
“Isn’t it amazing?” asked counselor Kryssi Plasch.
“The students are so quiet here you could hear a pin drop,” Deshayes said. While emergency drills always go well, she said, “I’ve never had 600 kids so quiet.”
After complimenting them, she sent the children walking back to school. The entire procedure took about an hour out of the school day.
The principal said in a real emergency, getting kids out of the building and to safety is the primary concern. Seconds after the announcement was made Friday, students in winter jackets were on their way out the doors.
In a real emergency, staff would first make the announcement, then call 911, then contact the administrative office. A robo-call to parents would be made once kids are safe and there is accurate information on the situation, Deshayes said.
“We don’t want to cause undue alarm,” the principal said.
In the case of a real emergency, parents may get a call, but they shouldn’t rush to the scene. If the parents of 600 children flooded the area, it could block emergency vehicles or cause other hazards.
“You don’t want more people to complicate the situation,” Deshayes said.
The Superior School District takes student safety very, very seriously, she said. New measures to increase school security like a new buzzer system at Northern Lights have been well received by parents.
About 90 percent of them understand the need for it, Deshayes said, even if they wish life didn’t require such procedures.