Administration holds safety meeting to elicit student suggestions

Administration+holds+safety+meeting+to+elicit+student+suggestions

Administration holds safety meeting to elicit student suggestions

J.D. Capelouto

SGA President Lauren Alford and Grady Principal Vincent Murray led the March 5 meeting, in which students voiced their concerns and suggestions for Grady security. All photos by J.D. Capelouto

In response to the recent gun scare at Grady the administration hosted a Safety and Security Student Forum on March 5. Two representatives from each homeroom were chosen to attend the meeting and communicate the viewpoints of their advisement classes. The meeting was led by Principal Vincent Murray, Student Government Association President Lauren Alford and counselor Cassandra Bolding.

Four main questions about school safety were posed to the students, and Murray and Bolding asked students to give their answers to the questions using a microphone.

“I’m asking you to be frank, honest and to be sincere and also to take this meeting very seriously,” Murray said at the beginning of the meeting.

First, students were asked “How can students be a part of the solution to this problem?”

“The biggest thing the student body can do is know the consequences of bringing a weapon to school,” Senior Cameron Richardson responded.

SGA Vice President Jori Shorts felt another important thing students can do is report any illegal activity.

“[My homeroom] spoke about how if you see anything out of the ordinary … or if you see someone doing something that they’re not supposed to do, you should tell,” Shorts said. “Just don’t let it go unnoticed.”

Senior Grace Gatlin added students should tell someone if this happens because even if you know the person does not plan to hurt someone, accidents can happen and there can still be injuries, like in the incident on Feb. 27.

Students waited in a long line to speak to Murray and Alford.

The second question posed to students during the meeting was “How do you ensure the safety of yourself and others?” Multiple students said students can help by telling an administrator if they see something that could harm the safety of Grady students.

Sophomore Decker D’Alesio, however, believes this problem does not stem from the school nor the students. Rather, he said, there was a reason for the girl to bring the gun on Feb. 27 that Grady could not control.

“You’re asking us what we can do to ensure our safety. [The girl] asked herself that exact question and that is the exact reason why she brought a gun to school,” D’Alesio said.

Alford proposed Grady begin a texting tip line, which many people in the crowd supported.

“A lot of people don’t want to feel pressured to say something about someone; they don’t want someone to come after them,” Alford said.

One student, however, said something even more anonymous than a texting tip line would be better, as it might be possible for someone to track down a phone number.

Alford’s suggestion segwayed smoothly into the next question, where the students were asked whether they would talk to a teacher, administrator or counselor if they saw another student in possession of illegal contraband.

“No student is gonna snitch on someone else,” one student responded. “No one’s gonna walk up to a teacher and say ‘Someone has a gun,’ because if the person [with the gun] finds out who snitched, they’re coming after that person [who told].”

Sophomore Sergio Yrigollen said he would tell a teacher if he witnessed illegal activity on campus.

“I would certainly tell somebody if I even suspected them of carrying any kind of weapon with them,” he said. “Because, honestly, I can’t trust anybody here, and I really don’t like that feeling.”

One student told Murray he would only report a friend after talking to them.

“If it was a friend of mine, [first] I would negotiate with them,” he said. “If they feel that they should still go on with bringing the gun … then you should probably tell a mentor, a counselor, someone who you know will actually do something.”

Students look on as a student (far right) gives his input about what Grady can do to make its students more safe. Counselor Cassandra Bolding (far left) took notes for the meeting.

Finally, administrators asked students to fill in the blanks of this sentence: I feel safe/unsafe at Grady because _____.

Junior Koya Siebie feels Grady does all it can right now to keep weapons out of the building.

“I feel safe in this school,” Siebie said. “What do you expect for a school to do? I commend [the administration].”

Freshman Mack Hodges also said he feels safe at school. It would be impossible for the school to keep out every single contraband, he said.

“Schools are made to be places of learning,” Hodges said. “If someone has their mind set on doing harm to others at school, no amount of security is gonna change that.”

One girl spoke twice at the meeting, both times about why security at Grady is poor and how she does not feel safe.

“This school is not safe at all. My my parents thinks I’m going to school, she thinks I’m going to as safe environment,” the girl said. “This is nothing close to that. [The teachers] don’t check our bags. … Some of the teachers don’t even care about being here.”

The second time she spoke, about 50 minutes into the meeting, the large crowd of students responded with a wave of shouts and comments, which were eventually quieted down by the counselors.

After answering the final question, students were allowed to give their opinions and suggestions about what can be done in the future to prevent another security breach. Some students reiterated the point that the Grady administration cannot do anything about someone who really wants to get into school with a weapon. Others suggested police officers should be more active in the school and perform the bag checks in the mornings.

Hodges feels the student meeting was overall productive.

“I am glad that they held it, so that the students could feel like they had a part in the solution, or that they are in the loop,” Hodges said.

Hodges, however, thinks the administration will consider some of the students’ suggestions, but will take no direct action in changing how the school runs security.