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Staff Editorial: ALICE training is serious. It’s time to start acting that way.

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Illustration of students reacting to lockdown while OHS (personified as a student) ignores the warning.
Editorial Illustration by Sarah Keck, 42Fifty.

This editorial reflects the official opinions of 42Fifty’s 2019-2020 editorial staff. For more information on staff editorials, please see our editorial policy.

Three years ago, Oswego School District 308 adopted the A.L.I.C.E method to counteract active shooter situations in its schools. A.L.I.C.E, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, has been implemented into 5,548 schools across the country. 

Although the teaching of A.L.I.C.E procedures is supposed to be taught in every classroom and mentioned before the first lockdown drill of the year, teachers do not spend—and perhaps are not given—nearly enough time educating students on these procedures. This claim is not only applicable to Oswego, but many other school districts in the country.

West Aurora High School has gone, in our opinion, above and beyond in its implementation and teaching of the A.L.I.C.E method. West Aurora, the only high school in School District 129, recently produced a video in conjunction with the West Aurora Police Department, spanning about six minutes. The video’s purpose is to educate students and faculty on A.L.I.C.E procedures. 42Fifty’s Editorial Staff has seen a version of the video; however, we have decided not to publish it since it has not yet been approved for presentation by West Aurora High School’s resource officer, and has not yet been shown to students at the school.

The A.L.I.C.E Training Institute have also produced videos about the education of their procedures. This video goes through recommended training for  faculty of facilities wishing to become A.L.I.C.E certified.

Here at Oswego, the extent of exposure students receive in a classroom setting is a four-slide powerpoint presentation that is supposed to be shown in every class by the classroom teacher. The slides themselves are generic and go over fundamental A.L.I.C.E principles. Many teachers go on to demonstrate how to use a chair to barricade the door, and how to use a cable to tie the door shut when a shooter is present in the school. Although the information in the powerpoint and the demonstrations are valuable, we feel that more should be done to train Oswego students on A.L.I.C.E procedures.

Select teachers, in our experience as students, ask the class if the students have already heard this information, then proceed to skim over the information to save time to work on actual curricular content. When, in reality, each teacher in every student’s class, no matter how redundant it becomes for the student body, should go over the presentation in depth. This is about life and death, and if, God forbid, anything were to happen, wouldn’t you want your students to have the knowledge to survive? 

Some teachers supplement the school-provided powerpoint with additional knowledge they have through additional training, but not all do.

Teacher training is not the issue here. 42Fifty is aware of the training that is available to those already under contract and required for new hires. However, conveying that the training has taken place and that the faculty is well versed in the A.L.I.C.E procedure should be a higher priority. 

The real issue that needs addressing is the need for in-depth education of the student body when it comes to A.L.I.C.E procedures. The way information is conveyed relating to A.L.I.C.E now is both vague and ineffective. A slideshow consisting of only words and bullet points is neither engaging nor interactive and fails to convey the severity of the situation. No matter how the educator chooses to give the powerpoint, it is our experience that parts of the student body do not take it seriously, and the current method proves to be an inefficient approach for the education of the subject.

To address these issues, we feel it would be appropriate for the district and the administration to follow in the footsteps of West Aurora. The district should look into producing a video similar to the one used at West Aurora. This video should be made with guidance from either the Oswego Police Department and/or the Oswego Fire Department. This way, the video, similarly to West Aurora’s, has an authority figure conveying the information. 

This kind of community authority commands respect and should result in increased student attention.  This effect is seen every year at the Veterans Day assembly in the auditorium. Not a phone is seen as students respect the authority and stature of the speaking veterans, while at other assemblies at least half of the students in attendance are on their devices scrolling away. 

Another benefit of a video would be the opportunity to demonstrate procedures visually. The video medium gives opportunities to the administration that the slideshow presentation does not. The ability to explain procedures and provide examples through the video rather than just describing them via lecture, would further engage the student audience and give them more incentive to pay attention and absorb what they are watching.   

With all that being said, the administration can only do so much. They work extremely hard at giving information out already, and it falls upon you, the students, to understand the severity of the situation, put down our phone, take out your earbuds, and listen. This is a life and death situation. 

No matter how hard the faculty and administration try to teach you, if you continue to answer Snapchats or scroll through Twitter instead of heading this crucial information, the teacher’s efforts are then pointless, and it ultimately puts you at higher risk if this situation were ever to arise. 

Absorbing this information from your teachers, no matter the medium, could end up saving your life. Whether or not the administration decides to produce a video or not, it’s up to you, the student body, to ask questions and learn as much as you can. If there is anything regarding A.L.I.C.E that you do not understand, you have to speak up. This is not the time to sit in the back of the class and be confused. Raise your hand. Ask your teacher, ask an administrator, ask a dean. It’s worth the extra few minutes to learn a little more because that information could prove vitally important. 

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