I don’t want to go to school today. We have a lockdown drill planned. They never go as well as I think they should. I review the procedures with staff, field a ton of “what if” scenario questions, and attempt to calm my secretary because she knows that likely she’ll be the first responder to any incident on campus. She usually barrages me with questions like “Do you call 911 first? Do you lock the doors first? Do you intercom the classrooms and set off the bells and whistles first? I can’t do them all at the same time, JIM!” Yes, I know that. You’ll do fine. We have procedures and that’s why we practice. Stick to the training.
And what do you tell your kindergarten class or other small children? That we’re practicing this just in case some bad guy comes on campus with a gun? Well, no, we don’t.
One of the things in our favor is the local wildlife. There are coyotes running through the soccer field in the evenings. One of our families has had multiple cougar sightings in their creekbed. Skunks, possums, raccoons, feral cats…we have ‘em all, and we share those stories regularly. Our kindergarten teacher will often capitalize on that wildlife idea, with a little twist. We also have a farm across the road which Kindergarten students can see from their classroom. The class lockdown preparation goes something like this: “What would happen if Mr. Blanker’s cows got out and wandered over here? Those cows are huge! And they don’t obey like your dogs do at home, so just in case we need to keep you safe while someone rounds up the animals or something like that, this is the signal we want to use…” And that seems to work. For the children.
But ask the teachers about what’s going through their hearts and minds as we practice, and things are not so peaceful.
Classroom teachers worry about protecting their kids. What if they do the “wrong” thing? What if they do something “not according to policy and procedure” and get sued later for not being the hero as some teachers seem to be portrayed in other nationally-televised campus events? What if they’re not up to that? We pray we won’t ever have to find out. But the more we talk about it, the more we play the What If Game, the more we become peaceful about it. Not resigned, not acquiescent, not prepared to roll over and accept events as they happen. We become peaceful because we come to a deeper realization that our God is bigger than the boogie man (insert Veggie Tales here). Psalm 121 floats up in our minds often… “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD!” The LORD Almighty is in charge. He will neither slumber nor sleep. He who watches over us will never stop being on guard. That should free us up to do His bidding as well as we are able in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, good, bad or ugly.
I’m going to start my truck and go to school. I have a wonderful emergency drill to do, and everyone will be reminded of God’s sovereignty, providence, and protection as we do our lockdown together. Hiding from the cows.
Jim Buss, principal Ebenezer Christian School