column by Emily Sanden | art by Alexandra Fernholz

On the first day of school, I noticed new devices installed next to every door. Some of my teachers explained the procedure of the barricades, but some didn’t mention them at all. They had originally been told by the district to not discuss the devices with their classes, but the order was retracted a few days after school started.

I didn’t know anything about the barricades until I walked into my classes on Aug. 15th. A quick Google search of BEARAcades, the brand chosen by the district, reveals enough information about them, but seeing them in every classroom in Lakota East High School is a whole different experience. It is terrifying. 

The barren walls of math rooms and language classes are in stark contrast to the alarming red and white stripes by the door. Stripes that catch the attention of wandering eyes and reiterate their reason of being. The confusion, the hate, the fear. It is all so real in schools, in places of safety where students spend most of their young adult lives. Schools should be a place where students learn, grow, and develop into young adults, not worry about their lives or the safety of their friends.

Should these devices be installed in schools? If it boosts chances of survival, then yes. However, we shouldn’t need them. Violence doesn’t belong in schools, neither does hatred.

We spend this time with our peers, learning about life and math and politics and how to interact with people we may not necessarily like. We need opportunities for kids to feel comfortable, accepted, to be able to find people who will encourage and give support. We need therapists in public schools, who can listen and give advice without expense to the child. 

Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children and adolescents, but about 66 percent of people struggling with anxiety do not receive treatment. School psychologists work along with teachers in order to assist students with schoolwork, expectations, and support in the classrooms. They also are in contact with parents in order to produce the best outcomes. But most importantly, they are able to teach students coping methods and skills to help battle anxiety.

If schools must pay for a psychologist, even if the district isn’t directly compensated for their investment, it will be a large factor in the prevention of an attack. Many teachers are not emotionally interactive with their students If reaching out a hand can save a life, then my arms are constantly extended. 

Should we worry about the need for the BEARAcades? They are here as a prevention so that our school can feel a little safer. The best course of action is to prepare with logical scenarios. If the district decides to spend almost $47,000 on a safety mechanism, I won’t complain. According to Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller, $40 per classroom in the district is a good deal if it ensures safety to the students. 

Even if these barricades are certified by law enforcement officials, they may not have been the best option for our school. East has doors that lock on both sides- the district made sure of that last year. They may have been worried about the glass in the doors, so why not add defense to those? A door with a barricade may not be able to be opened, but the broken glass would still leave a holein the door. This should not be the last addition for safety added. Perhaps a ladder that can allow second-story students to evacuate easier. Amazon’s best-rated escape ladder, the X-IT 2 Story (13′) Emergency Fire Escape Ladder, would be approximately the same price of what the district paid for the barricades if one was installed in every upper-floor classroom in the district.

Our district’s board should continue to examine the best option for our school safety, as well as protecting the mental wellbeing of their students.If the district expects us to perform, then they need to provide someone to help with the stress they bring.

Lakota has the funds necessary to provide for the 15,000 students in the district, and an extra defense will make students and faculty feel safer, allowing them to focus on the main focus of what we do here: learning.We accept, understand, allow ourselves to mature under the threats we face. We cannot back down, can’t be left unprepared. We must block out the things that weigh us down.