Photo by Justin Liu.
By Chloe Miller
Recently, Manheim Township High School has found two bullet casings inside classrooms; the casings were discovered within three weeks of each other. These findings have left students with many questions about the safety of our school and the procedures used to determine the level of threat they provided. Emails went out to every student after the school day had ended with a generic message from Dona Ridley, Principal David Rilatt’s secretary, stating, “After a thorough investigation, we were able to determine how and why the casing was found on the floor; we found no evidence of any danger to our students or staff. The situation was resolved quickly.” While Manheim Township High School has not had an evacuation due to a threat at school for three years now, almost every student has heard of the stories of prior evacuations due to bullet findings, and now, they wonder why they were never evacuated, or even alerted, during the finding.
“When something like this happens, I feel like a bigger deal is made about it” said Anabelle Lapp, a junior at Manheim Township High School. “This time, the situation was dealt with quicker and kept more under wraps.”
Matt Johns, Manheim Township High School’s dean of students, believes that the school’s administration team took the proper precautions in order to determine the nature of the bullet casings. During the investigation, the school confers with parents, teachers, and student witnesses, who were there, or have knowledge about the threat.
“Just like any other concern we have here for school safety, we have to track down the source and determine the circumstances of that source,” said Johns.
After the results of the investigation are confirmed, administrators discuss them with the SRO, the school resources office, or law enforcement unit at the high school. Administrators follow a consistent protocol that is not public information to students. Protocol, depending on the issue at hand, can take anywhere from one hour to the entire day, according to Johns.
“When we are able to check the boxes both efficiently and quickly, we do. When we have to slow down because we feel as if we don’t have all of the answers we want to for school safety, then we definitely slow down” stated Johns.
Johns and the administrative team believe that the instance of two bullets within a couple weeks was simply bad luck. The findings of the bullet casings were coincidental. While they were found to be no threat to the school, the high school is still taking more precautions for student safety. Two years ago, the school was alerted that the front entrance raised physical safety concerns, so, starting after winter break this year, the construction on the new lobby and entrance area began.
“Prior to the construction on the front office lobby, a guest, visitor, or even a student was buzzed into the school before the security check happened. The changes out there now allows people to be checking by security prior to having full access to the rest of the building” Johns said.
The school district is working on making the school a safer place. By remodeling the front, educating students on the ALICE protocol in case of an intruder, and hiring a security monitor at the arena entrance, a Manheim Township aims to eliminate as many threats to students as possible.