The Duncan Banner

Local News

December 16, 2012

School safety becomes everyone’s concern

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Tragedy struck the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday, when a 20-year-old man opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults.

While the shootings were happening, many teachers locked doors and barricaded the children in classrooms and helped hide them.

Local educators and parents shared their thoughts and talked of the safety precautions necessary.

Duncan Superintendent Sherry Labyer said school violence is a school’s worst fear realized.

“That’s every educator’s worst nightmare,” Labyer said. “It just makes me sick. I just don’t understand.”

Terry Davidson, Comanche Public Schools superintendent, said his heart goes out to the families of the students,

“It’s hard,” Davidson said. “It’s just so tragic. People want to come up with the plan. I’m sure they had that. Safety is the number one concern for us.”

Labyer said they have made contact with Duncan police officers to find how to make the schools the safest. While the elementary offices have been reconfigured to make people enter through the offices, Labyer said absolute safety isn’t possible.

Labyer said the police told her that if a shooter wants to enter a school, he will find a way.

“That’s the harsh reality we face,” Labyer said.

Kayce Booth, who has three children and also is a teacher’s assistant in the Duncan school district, shared her thoughts on her Facebook page and also with The Banner.

“Before today I had taken for granted the summer remodel that my kids school got,” she wrote. “They made it to where anyone entering the school had to go through the office and then a second set of doors were added that you have to be buzzed through, making it harder for anyone to just enter the main area.”

Tabrina Whitlow has two boys in Duncan schools, a pre-K and second-grader.

“My 4-year-old told me they have a drill for if a stranger ever comes into the school with a gun. He said they go in the class, lock the door, turn off the lights and hide,” she said. “My 7-year-old has mentioned school lockdown before. It’s so sad that in addition to fire and tornado drills our children now have to have stranger with a gun drills. Children shouldn’t have to fear that kind of thing happening at school.”

That’s some of the efforts being done by Duncan Public School District.

Davidson and Labyer said their school districts continue to enhance safety precautions. Both have crisis plans. Duncan also has a lockdown plan, which will help protect the students in such a situation.

Labyer said the goal is to be proactive instead of reactive. She said her biggest concerns are at the high school, which will soon undergo improvements to make the campus safer, which is the result of a bond issue passed earlier this year.

Booth recognizes that the district is working hard to improve the school campuses.

“I stood there looking at it thinking what a great community I live in where they are willing to go to the extra expense to keep our children safe,” she said.

Davidson said there is no way to protect 100 percent, but schools will do their best.

“It’s easy to say what you’ll do until you’re in that situation,” he said. “We think about it all the time. We have 1,100 students. Every day I pray for the safety of everyone.”

While he worries mostly about accidents beyond the school district’s control, he also worries about senseless acts of violence impacting Comanche students.

Vicki Davison, Empire Public Schools Superintendent, said that her relationship with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Department is helpful in feeling safe.

“If we have anything here, they are here sometimes within five minutes,” she said.

Before today’s tragedy, they had already planned a simulation of a school shooting with the sheriff’s office for school staff to be conducted sometime in the spring. Davison hopes this will help teachers and staff be prepared if this incident were to ever happen at Empire.

“We have no current cause for concern but we want to be proactive,” Davison said.

Davison said that during school on Friday, many of the students had not heard of the incident in Connecticut but she was expecting students to be more nervous on Monday. She guaranteed that staff and teachers would be there to reassure the students.

“There is going to be nervousness,” she said. “I hope parents will monitor what their kids watch and have good discussions with them afterward.”

Labyer’s final thoughts seem to be on everyone’s minds.

“It always makes you stop and think ‘what if?” she said.

“People who are in public education feel like we’re all a team, all in it together,” Labyer said. “Our prayers are with that entire school.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-20 bestinshow - carshow.jpg Gawkers and gearheads gather for car show on Main Street

    A fairly accurate timeline of the internal combustion engine was represented at the 7th Annual Cruisin’ the Chisolm Trail car show this weekend in dowtown Duncan.

    April 20, 2014 10 Photos

  • 4-20dragsterphoto.jpg Car show had a big bang this year

    Nothing at the previous car shows ever went kablooey quite like the featured vehicle at Cruisin’ the Chisolm Trail’s opening night on Friday.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inaugural prayer breakfast in Duncan patterned after National Day of Prayer

    A new tradition will begin in Duncan on May 1 -- an annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

    April 20, 2014

  • The Well Outreach plans mentoring program for kids at risk

    The Well Outreach, Inc., will unveil its plans for an in-school mentoring program it will launch this fall during a Tuesday night meeting at its 913 W. Main Street storefront.

    April 20, 2014

  • Bench murder trial to be returned to August docket

    Although the first-degree murder trial for Miles Bench has been set to begin Monday, District Attorney Jason Hicks said the trial is unlikely to begin before August.

    April 20, 2014

  • Bench found competent, trial to start Monday

    A jury took 50 minutes on Thursday to find Miles Sterling Bench competent to stand trial for first-degree murder  and District Judge Joe Enos scheduled the trial to begin Monday.
    Bench, 23, of, Velma, is accused of the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. She was killed in June 2012 in the Teepee Totem convenience store in Velma where Bench was employed.

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-18 Miller and Decathlon 0016.jpg Miller pumps up decathlon students

    Dr. Ché Miller, who helped bridge a funding gap needed to send the Duncan High School Decathlon Team to the national competition in Hawaii, gave the team a pep talk on Thursday.
    Miller, recently recognized as the Man of the Year by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the students they are about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and advised them to absorb as much of the experience as they can.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Churches prepare for Easter Sunday

    Churches throughout Duncan and Stephens County are preparing to celebrate Easter this Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
    Today is known as Good Friday to mark the day Christ was crucified on a cross.

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-18 lauren-ellis mug.jpg Ellis named new CEO of regional United Way

    Lauren Ellis, who’s led the United Way of Stephens County for more than two years, has been named the new chief executive officer of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma.
    Her new job will be based in Lawton but Ellis said she will remain in Duncan and commute.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jurors to decide Bench competency issue today

    Jurors will hear final arguments on Thursday and then be asked to determine whether  23-year-old Miles Sterling Bench is mentally competent to stand trial for first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry nearly two years ago.

    April 17, 2014