Story by Anjali McDaniel

People around the nation are horrified and hurt by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and the stinging aftermath of the shooting is finding its way into the Dutch Fork community.

“I feel awful about what happened. It’s so sad that someone was so mentally insane that they even had the idea to go into a high school and kill seventeen innocent children,” freshman Gracyn Compton said, “It’s sweet when people say ‘thoughts and prayers’, but we need actual acts of change; not just prayers and thoughts.”

School safety is one of the topics that is being addressed at Dutch Fork. Students are speaking out on how they think the school should improve on safety.

“They should put metal detectors because kids [are] sneaky; and people that you think wouldn’t [commit crimes], are the main ones to do it,” sophomore Tyrik McDaniel said.

Another student that has an idea for improvements on safety is senior Tamia Burgess. She says that teachers need to start being more cautious about locking their doors and this will lead to a solution in safety. Junior Dallas Wise says that he just wants to be protected if there ever was a school shooting.

Along with students, teachers have a say in how they think the school should improve on safety.

“[One concern I have that I will bring up to Dr. Gary is the] supervision of students moving from the main building to the health science buildings,” engineering teacher Sondra Suarez said.

Principal, Dr. Gerald Gary, is listening to students and teachers ideas about safety. He already has a few plans that are getting ready to be set in place soon.

“One thing I know we’re going to do now is start locking doors that come in from the Health Science buildings. Those doors have been pretty much left open for CATE students who return and seniors coming in for senior study hall,” Dr. Gary said, “Those students will now have to enter from the front office and come through attendance. We’re going to start reinforcing ID’s. Every student has to wear an ID and sometimes we’ve been letting students get away without it, but we have to start wearing ID’s.”

School shootings typically happen in areas where many students are crowded together. The cafeteria and the commons area have many students compacted in them at certain times throughout the day.

“Anytime you have a group of students, you have the potential for more issues, but that’s why we have more teachers and officers present in those [crowded] areas,”  Resource Officer Shawn Powers said.

Officer Powers wants students to know that he has an open door and is ready to listen to their concerns to make sure students feel safe.

“Both deputy’s are here and willing to listen to issues concerning safety and reports can be made anonymous,” Officer Powers said.

With seventeen lives lost because of the Florida school mass shooting, Dutch Fork High School and many other schools have sought to bring change in safety and making sure everyone is protected.

“We think Dutch Fork High is a great place,” Dr. Gary said, “and in order to keep it a great place, we all have to say something if we see something. If it looks odd or not familiar, let an adult know and we’ll continue to make Dutch Fork a great school it always has been.”