Noblesville High School Ditches Backpacks

Noblesville Schools is responding to the May 25 middle school shooting with an approach similar to how the country responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

On Wednesday evening, July 18, parents gathered at Noblesville High School for a meeting regarding the changes students will see as they return for the new year. A specific paragraph within an IndyStar article covering the event lit a fire among many students, including myself.

Emma Kate Fittes, a journalist for the Star and author of said article, writes: “Students will have fewer entrances in the morning and no longer be allowed to bring backpacks to class; instead they will be required to keep them in their lockers, said [Safety Director Mark] Booth.”

Here’s why we’re mad:

  1. Noblesville High School had approximately 3,000 students for the 2017-2018 school year. The incoming freshman class will be the largest one to walk the already crowded halls. Taking away backpacks means more students cramming shoulder-to-shoulder to swap materials for their classes. Adding more students to an already overflowing hallway will allow a potential shooter more targets.
  2. After Sandy Hook, Noblesville adopted a different form of active shooter drills. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and we’ve been following its protocol since middle school. The core foundation is steering away from the Code Red drills I remember in elementary school, hiding in the corner and pretending that the shooter would assume you weren’t there, to fight or flight. Where’s the shooter? In the Freshman Center? Where are you? In art on the other side of the building? You run as far away from the school as possible. If you’re in the FC, you barricade/ready yourself for confrontation. Prepare to fight back. Many teachers at Noblesville have specific items in their classroom for the sole purpose of an active shooter. My chemistry teacher had a metal rod hidden by one of the doors. I can’t count on one hand how many times backpacks have been mentioned as a form of protection. I haven’t been to my locker willingly in three years. Do you know how heavy my backpack was? Now what?

In all honesty, I see where Noblesville is coming from. They believe no backpacks will lessen the chances of a shooting, but that’s just not possible. The shooter at Noblesville West Middle School excused himself from class to “go to the bathroom,” and instead went to his locker and came back with two handguns. NWMS is strictly no backpacks.

I can also see why this backlash seems foolish. We asked for change, they’re making it. What more could we possibly want? Good question.

According to the article, a new referendum is in the works and if passed Noblesville could expect some of the following: suicide screenings for students, gun safety education in the community, use gun detection dogs, enhance video systems and security on school buses, increase camera monitoring after school hours, hire a mental health coordinator, at-risk counselors, additional counselors, a social worker and middle school deans. These are changes that could make a serious impact in identifying and preventing a shooting.

Getting rid of backpacks, in the eyes of the students, seems to only speed up the process.

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