Following shooting in Florida Foothill High School says they will not live in fear

Foothill principal reflects on school safety

After the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida many parents, faculty and students are questioning the likelihood of this happening. Instead of responding in fear, Foothill High School, and other schools in the Shasta Union High School District are changing the way the teach security measures.

The Foothill campus sits east of Redding in Shasta County. Principal Steve Abbott emphasized the school's rural location alone is why they have taken extra security measures. For example, the high school utilizes a Shasta County Sheriff's Deputy as their school resource officer on campus.

In addition to on-campus security, Foothill High School has chosen to not overwhelm their students or staff with more drills, following Wednesday's mass shooting.

"I think students think of what it's like to be a student there and I think our staff thinks of what it's like to be staff there and as a principal, my heart goes out. But it's important to do the right drills and not just a lot of them, making sure that people are prepared but not panicked."

While a school shooting may not be predictable, Abbott explained the school is continuously making efforts to be aware of what's going on. They rely on parents, staff and students to inform them on any concerning incidents or comments.

Also in planning, Foothill High School will change the way they teach lockdown scenarios and drills.

"We'll start another program into where we go individually to each teacher and talk to them about their classroom and the physical space that they're in charge of," Abbott said. Administration realizes that fire alarm drills come as muscle memory to students and staff. To change that will take work, but Abbott said there needs to be a confirmation that the school actually sent out the alarm before the campus goes into emergency mode.

As for students, James O'Connell, a Senior and Hannah Essen, a Junior, said they move forward by encouraging others, especially those in Parkland, and they will continue to support them through social media.

"It's super hard to know that people our age would go through this," Essen related.

"I think it's important after a tragedy or event like this that role models and teachers are there, just the support structure a school gives. If you see someone who seems like they might be isolated or bullied, reach out a hand and talk to them," O'Connell said.

Foothill High School said overall, "Kids grow up knowing each other and we're tight knit. I hope every school feels like Foothill but we're a family and the kids take care of themselves and teachers take care of them. If, God forbid, the tragedy ever happened here, we would come together," Chemistry teacher Mark Bennett gave light on what is most important for his students.

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