Shooter Threat

Yooni Park and Anthony Zhu

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        On Mar. 27, 2018, Cupertino High School saw a second threat in a span of less than a month. During lunch, there was a school-wide announcement stating that students and staff must evacuate the campus immediately. The ASB office received multiple phone calls stating that there were armed shooter(s) approaching the school. The administration decided that the safest thing to do was to have all the students evacuate. Following the announcement, students ran in all directions away from the school, some going towards Sedgwick and Main Street, while a set of students and faculty in the new building barricaded themselves. The Cupertino Sheriff’s Department later announced that the threat was a “robotic call,” and after a thorough search, they concluded that there was no real indication of any danger to the school or nearby community. The call was traced back to multiple locations across the country. Students and administration later received an ‘all clear,’ and school resumed as usual Wednesday morning.

        As students evacuated, many reportedly ran to nearby stores and local businesses. Upperclassmen were able to get away in their vehicles taking with them as many people as they could. Others escaped into homes of the surrounding neighborhood.

       Said CHS Principal Kami Tomberlain, “I went out and contacted the business’s around and thanked them, many of them unaware of the situation, for helping the students find a safe place to be. It is very important that we have  helpful community around us.”

        Teachers had little to no information on the situation beforehand and most evacuated with the students. Many teachers assisted students through the evacuation, holding open doors and directing the fleeing crowds.

        Said English teacher Jenny Padgett, “It was extremely stressful to see students truly run for their lives. It was remarkable of how the faculty on the campus did not leave until every student was safe and I did not see a single staff member freak out even though we knew nothing more than what the students knew.”

        The shock from this event motivated FUHSD and CHS staff to reexamine emergency plans for the school. FUHSD staff are discussing ways to directly communicate news of such events to students in a timely and reliable manner. Tino’s announcement system was also found to be defective as students reported there to be numerous ‘dead spots’ around the school where the loudspeakers were inaudible.

        “During my lunch, I was out on the field for international soccer week, and I could not clearly hear what the announcements had said. I only started to comprehend the situation when I saw a huge wave of students run towards me in my direction,” sophomore Sonali Gupta said.

        This can potentially lead to dangerous situations if crucial information cannot spread quickly to the entire campus. Furthermore, some students had difficulty accessing the gates leading off campus. Many students climbed over the gates or found other options.

        Said Tomberlain, “The back gate specifically was extremely difficult to open. Afterwards, the lock was greased and the wire was removed so the gates can be more easily accessed. The teachers all now know that their key opens that gate. Part of this process was taking student feedback and trying to clear those kinds of situations.”

        Many parents, staff and students are concerned about future emergencies and how effectively the school can respond. The administration has been working towards making CHS safer by collecting student concerns, increasing the volume of the PA system, greasing the gates and establishing escape and defend procedures.

        After the ‘all clear’ was given, staff helped clean up and organize everything so students who left personal belongings on campus could retrieve them in the morning. A few students were especially shaken up by the events of the day so extra student advocates were brought on campus, and students were encouraged to seek help if they needed it. Teachers discussed the evacuation with students, and members of the administration visited all of the classrooms to personally check-in with students.

 

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