Story by Stephen Wise, Photo by Alexandria Sessions

The crack of the bat, the heavy footfalls after leaping over hurdles, these are the sounds of athletes hard at work throughout tough practices. Their minds were on their next competition, eyes fixated on capturing a state title. This week, things are not the same.

Following last weeks attack on Florida, the hearts and minds of all students are frantic. The realization has set in that such a thing could happen anywhere, and that sense of security most used to hold is at risk.

“The Florida shooting made me more cautious when coming to school,” sophomore Taylor Perkins said.

Security has been ramped up across the school, with principal Gerald Gary making it clear that security is his first priority. However, those new measures might not necessarily translate to the practice fields for student athletes.

“If there was a shooter while I was running on the track, I’d be fearful for my life,” junior Mandy Kirkley said, “If my coach or someone were to get shot that would really affect my performance later in life and the connection and bond that I had with my coach.”

Coaches understand the concerns of their athletes, and want to provide a safe environment for them even after school hours are over, even if that means taking additional steps to do so.

“About the only thing they can use, that we don’t have here, are metal detectors because some schools we play have them,” Coach Faye Norris said.

The recent string of incidents has led students to ponder what they would do in the event of an attack.

“Considering that this has happened a lot now,” Mandy said, “This is the 18th shooting in 2018, I think that we should have more drills and for people to know to take it seriously instead of laughing about it.”

Resource officers and security personnel at the school see an attack as no laughing matter, and are making sure that a plan is in place for any sort of situation. With an increased number of attacks, including a recent threat on the school, Curtis Cannon and the others SRO’s are prepared.

“We have a plan in place. If we have something they will follow the four steps, lockout, lockdown, and evacuate,” resource officer Cannon said, “If it was during a game we would evacuate to our closest rally point.”

Even with the heightened number of attacks, junior Lauren Riehm said she feels safe both at school and at practice.

“I feel pretty safe because there are more police officers, and at games our administration does a good job of watching and making sure people don’t get away with things,” Lauren said.

Like Bob Dylan once said, times are a’changing. As unfortunate as it is, there have to be plans in place to keep students, athletes, coaches, and fans safe at all time, especially while they are on school grounds.

“Things have changed so you got to prepare for the change,  you never know what’s going to happen,” Coach Norris said, “it’s better to be safe than to think about it later.”