Senior door: Security change follows major national trends


Photo by Alex Ketcham

Door seven, otherwise known as the senior door, stands unused in the morning when students are entering the building. Students used to be able to enter through the senior door , but no longer are able to because the school is taking extra safety measures to try and be proactive about safety. This is only one of the safety measures put in place in the past few years, in response to incidents across the country that occured within the last few years.

By Alex Ketcham, Lake Zurich High School

The senior door closing has been a hot topic among students within the past week, but there is some confusion as to why the policy was put in place.

Administration sent out an email to students prior to the closure of the door, acknowledging safety concerns as the reasoning for the action. The closure of the senior door is only one of the security measures put in place within the last few years in response to tragedies nationally within the last few years and there are more preventative measures to come, said Mark Brunner, security supervisor.

“There are a lot of uneducated theories as to why this happened, and there is a lot of guessing involved and misconceptions, but it wasn’t just one incident. The main driving force was a law enforcement evaluation that they took into consideration,” Brunner said. “There is no deliberate attempt to inconvenience anybody, but we are trying to take those steps to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

Since the measure was put in place, there has been backlash from students and a petition made in hopes of administration reopening the senior door, according to Landon Finn, senior, who signed the petition. However, local law enforcement and administration will keep the policy in place to ensure safety and security in the school, Brunner said.

“I think schools have made the decision that they need to be proactive to try to take preventative measures to keep students as safe as they possibly can,” Brunner said. “A lot of that has changed over the years, especially most recently with the school tragedies where things are getting scrutinized a lot closer, such as entry points, who’s in the school, who’s allowed access into the school during the school day.”

During the last three years at the school alone, the most prominent change to secure the school has been to have a more thorough screening process for visitors wishing to enter the building during school hours, Brunner said.

“The biggest thing is we try to control and limit the outside traffic into the school, such as visitors,” Brunner said. “There’s a screening process where we have to run their ID’s to make sure we secure the entrance put in place so we can keep visitors in a secured area before they are cleared to come into the school. All visitors have to be escorted to and from their destination within the school. Nobody’s allowed into the school without prior invitation. We don’t allow drop in visitors.”

Increasing security measures are nothing new in schools. Within the last 20 years, however, the rate at which the changes can be seen in schools within the last five years is increasing rapidly, said Finn.

“At that point [of Sandy Hook], I was in elementary school. I don’t remember something being different [security-wise],” Finn said. “You walk in the doors, maybe they put a security camera outside, but you could still walk in. You had to check in at the main desk, but there was no upgrade in security.”

When Sandy Hook happened, it was hard to understand the magnitude of the situation, Finn said, because it happened when current high schoolers were young.

“I was too young to understand what really happened. I knew that something bad happened and a lot of people died. I knew it was a school shooting, but I didn’t know about Columbine at the time, but at that time, it was all so real because it was still on the newer side,” Finn said. “There’s never been so much focus on [school] security as there has been in the last couple of years. It’s gone to a whole new level.”

The 2018 Parkland shooting was more monumental, Finn said, because it was a harsh reality of the way our society has gotten to.

“When it happened, it was this new, scary realism that this could happen anywhere. It was a whole new level,” Finn said. “After that I was scared, I’m not going to lie, I was scared walking around because with these school shootings you never know what’s going to happen.”

Trying to prevent against something happening here is the driving factor of why security measures like the closing of the senior door have been taken, Brunner said, as this is part of an effort to be proactive.
But students argue that the school attempting to make the building safer isn’t the problem. It was the execution of the new senior door policy that makes some students mad, Finn said.

“I think that any day, safety tops convenience. But I think it needs to come in the right form,” Finn said. “I don’t think closing the senior doors was right because it does not make it safer because there was nothing implemented other than that to make things safer. If someone wants to walk in with a gun, they can still walk in with a gun. I think they made it inconvenient without a solution to the problem”

Brunner, however, says this security measure is all about being ahead of the game about safety, rather than waiting for something to happen and regretting it later.

“Everyone involved understands that this is a minor inconvenience, but if you go back and look at the instances where unfortunate actions took place, and you were to ask them if they were to go back in time and spend more money and make some changes to make their schools more secure, across the board everyone would say yes, they would have done things differently,” Brunner said. “We’ll take whatever measures are reasonable to try and keep the students and staff, as well as everyone in the building as safe as possible.”

This story was originally published on Bear Facts on October 30, 2018.