Mechanical pencils, notebooks, and bullet-proof backpacks are on countless of back-to-school shopping lists. According to CBS News, there have already been 22 school shootings in the U.S. this year and Bernards High School is prepared to keep its name off the list. Dr. Neigel, the principal, has taken precautions to ensure maximum security at Bernards this school year. He points out that “in today’s society it can happen anywhere, and being prepared is vital”. The scary reality is that while at school, one must be ready for the worst, and the worst can be life-threatening. Neigel explains that there must be a happy medium: how much privacy are we willing to give up in exchange for surveillance? “Balance between security and keeping the school from being like a fortress in the sense of too much of a security system is extremely important for the school’s dynamic.”
When asked what provoked the proposition of a more advanced security system, Dr. Neigel reveals that “[they have] always thought about it, more and more schools are adding this extra step”. Not only that but, “police and security experts have recommended that all schools have a double buzz system.” Neigel expresses that he always tries to do “what’s best for the students and the staff”, but how do they feel about the new surveillance? When questioned if they feel safer, the range of responses was immense. Norah Tobin admits she “doesn’t really feel a difference”. Contrarily, Officer Byrnes explains that “it gives [him] an extra sense of security for the school, staff, and students”.
The safety measures that the school has taken over the past year has made the school safer already. The double-buzz system ensures maximum protection over who comes in and out of the building. In order for someone to get into the building, they must first ring the doorbell (pictured below). Then, the person entering the building must explain why they need to get in. Following that, the secretary will allow them into the vestibule and finally, they can go through the main office to enter the building. Extra coverage of the school with the new cameras ensure that if someone were to enter without authorization, any place they would be, the security team would be able to find them immediately.
Some may come to the conclusion that the security system is more of a hassle than a safety measure but, that is not the case. Mariellen Reaves, a concerned parent, explains that she understands that people can find the extra precaution to be “annoying”. However, she reveals that she likes to think of it as the inconvenience being the same for us as it is for the unauthorized visitor. She also mentions that she “[loves] that the school put in the money and effort into keeping our kids safer” and the precautions taken keep her mind at ease.
Through the eyes of many students, faculty members, parents, and even board members, the extra step our school is taking and will continue to take are steps in the right direction. Bernards High School is determined to make sure nobody has to worry about buying a bulletproof backpack this year, or any year.