By Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter
This school year started out with more than a few changes. First, let me thank Mr. Vince Stark and the rest of the members of our local American Legion Post 558. Flags are now displayed throughout our school and students are once again provided the opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance each day. Thank you, thank you! This, in my opinion, is long over due. Sometimes striving for political correctness gets in the way of common sense.
It seems that far too often we hear of a tragedy or a situation that could have been avoided if proper safety measures were put in place and practiced every day. Just recently we read about the young man who walked into a Georgia school and frightened everyone. It could have easily ended up another senseless tragedy.
The measures our district has taken, although nothing is a 100% guarantee of safety, will increase the degree of safety present at Farwell Area Schools. We began by moving to a single point of entry for each school building. After students arrive at school, all exterior doors are locked and only one open door is presented to the public. The elementary school has a buzzer system that controls access. In the future other buildings will be addressed with a similar system, but that requires facility modifications to make it functional. Items such as construction of double door systems and windows being cut into walls that would allow for communication and visual verification are required.
Last year a school in the area had a twenty-one year old person attend high school for several days without being detected. It is unclear of his motives but this did create a potential danger to students. Another district routinely had adults enter buildings in an attempt to test security measures of the local school.
As soon as photo badges are available for all, students, staff and visitors will be required to wear ID badges at all times. This will allow for a quick response to anyone in the building that is not supposed to be there. Badges will make them more identifiable by students and staff.
Additionally, Farwell will hold several lock-down drills and intruder scenarios to practice response times in pressure situations. These are all done in cooperation with the local, county and state police agencies.
There has also been a change in our traffic plan. We are asking for all personal vehicles to travel east on Ohio Street during the heavy traffic times of 7:30 – 8:30am and 2:30 – 3:30pm. This will allow for a much safer environment while crossing the street entering or exiting the school buildings.
Also, in an effort to ease the congestion of afternoon pick up of middle school students, we have moved the pick up area to the eastern most parking lot of the high school. Middle school students will travel through the Jaime Performing Arts Center hallway and travel out the South doors (towards Subway). There is plenty of parking space and this should create a much easier space to pick up children. The elementary school pick up and drop off area still needs some planning. This process will be studied and developed in order to improve the current situation.