High School's Active Shooter Drill Includes The Firing Of Blank Rounds

by Valerie Williams
Image via KDKA News

High school conducts active shooter drill using rounds of blank ammunition

A Pittsburgh high school is trying out a new method to prepare students in the event of an active shooter and it’s definitely stirring up controversy. Administrators apparently allowed police to fire off blank rounds of ammunition in the hallways to prepare students for the sounds of gunfire in the event of an actual shooting.

Yesterday, Bethel Park Police entered Bethel Park High School, which is about 10 miles south of the city of Pittsburgh, to conduct the drill. According to WPXI News, the plan was for school police and a trained A.L.I.C.E. team (A.L.I.C.E. stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) to fire off blank rounds in the school’s hallways. A letter home to parents from Principal Zeb Jansante emphasized that the blanks wouldn’t be fire at anyone and like, thank GOD because for awhile there, this was all sounding a little insane. Eye rolls forever.

The letter told parents not to worry — a PowerPoint presentation would assuage their children’s fears. “The faculty and staff have been apprised of the situation and over the next few days the students will be shown a PowerPoint in homeroom, providing them with the needed information,” it reads.

Marlene Vavrek, a grandparent in the district, tells WPXI she’s concerned for how much this might upset some students. “Even though they were told ahead of time, what will happen — I think kids with any kind of issues will intensify.”

I’d say that’s a certainty. When I know I’m about to pop a balloon before throwing it away I still get upset about the impending incredibly loud and startling sound. I don’t think any amount of prep or pre-warning could prepare me, as an adult or high school student, to hear the sounds of gunfire just outside a classroom door. This is complete insanity.

Vavrek isn’t the only one worried about scaring the kids. Mom Nanette Adams, whose son is a student at Bethel, contacted KDKA-TV News along with other district parents with her concerns. “Students have been prepared; although, I have not been advised about what that preparation consists of,” Adams said. “My concern is for students who may have some sort of issue with anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, special needs students.”

Adams made another excellent point. “There are homes located nearby, and I have no idea if anyone who does not have a student in the district has been informed that this drill is going to be taking place,” she said. “There’s a lot of unknown variables of what could potentially happen if a homeowner nearby heard shots being fired off.”

However, it appears that not all parents feel the way I and so many others do. Mom Nicki Sink tells WPXI she just sees it as preparing kids for what might happen. “Why not give them the tools to be ready for it instead of being worried about a traumatic experience of what could be a traumatic experience?”

Other parents also seemed remarkably chill about the idea and very supportive.

Hashtag backbone indeed. I mean, we don’t want to raise delicate snowflakes who flinch at the sound of gunfire, right? We need to prepare our kids for war, I mean, school.

But I can’t be the only one wondering what exactly this is supposed to accomplish. Proving to kids that the sound of gunfire, is, in fact, terrifying? Like, are they looking for the students to remain calmer than they would otherwise as they wait for a classmate or other disturbed individual to break through the door and fire away? Is this supposed to desensitize them somehow to the sounds of a school shooting? I’m no expert on matters of guns or psychology, but common sense tells me that this will accomplish nothing except scaring kids to no helpful end.

I’m upset enough when my elementary school kids tell me things like, “my new teacher has the BEST hiding spot for lockdown drills” or “we get to eat lollipops during the drills, Momma.” I would be a tornado of parental fury if my kids’ school tried something like this, because it does nothing concrete and at the end of the day, proves we’re more willing to turn our schools into practice battlegrounds than we are to elect officials who will enact common sense gun laws that might actually make a difference. The moment we decide to prep for these “inevitabilities” is the moment we’ve given up on a better future for our kids than what’s happening right now. I, for one, refuse to accept it.