Enquirer Herald

Students make safety a priority

Kudos to the Clover High seniors who recently took school safety into their own hands.

As school funding appears to be shrinking, the students from Nicole Thompson's English class took the initiative to do their part to raise money to improve security around the school.

Throughout the last few months, they sold donuts and solicited help from local businesses. Then, on the last Saturday before graduation when many kids were getting a jump start on their summer plans, these students spent the day in rocking chairs outside Killian's Service Center for a 12-hour rock-a-thon in one last push to raise awareness and money for school safety.

They presented Principal Ron Wright with a check for more than $10,000 during Saturday's graduation ceremony.

The money will come in handy for additional surveillance cameras or perhaps more hand-held metal detectors. But it's not just money they're giving to the school. They're leaving a legacy -- one we hope future classes will mimic.

It's a sad reality that students don't always feel safe in their own schools.

In April, Clover High delayed classes for three hours because of a threat left on a bathroom stall. It was nothing Columbine-like, but it was enough that administrators felt the need to be cautious. That incident occurred just a week after a 9-year-old boy was arrested at York Road Elementary School in Rock Hill after he showed a 9 mm gun to two other students. Also that weekend an 18-year-old student in Chesterfield was arrested and charged with planning a Columbine-style attack.

It's clear that in our society, that violent mentality is more prevalent than ever before.

After the Virginia Tech shooting, some Clover High students told Enquirer-Herald they were concerned about the risk at their school. Many of the classrooms don't have windows and it would be hard to escape if a shooter walked into a classroom, they said.

Administrators, however, continue to believe safety is better than ever before.

They say every school has a crisis plan, which includes steps for communicating with law enforcement, parents and district office staff. Resource officers from the York County Sheriff's Office stand guard in case anything should go wrong. Video cameras are located throughout the schools, curbing many issues because students know they're being monitored. School officials also hold periodic training for emergencies, including lock downs, and some schools bring in law enforcement dogs on random days to sniff for weapons and drugs. At Clover High School, if the staff have any reason to believe there could be a problem, metal detectors are brought in, said Wright.

But there's always room for improvement, which is why the students took matters into their hands.

Let's see what the Class of 2009 comes up with next.