Unsecure environment prompts anxiety

Audrey Bartholomew, Staff Writer

Why is it that my safety matters only after I am dead? Why is it that my school cares about me only after 17 other students just like me have been murdered in the most gruesome way possible?

I’m sorry, I am, but you cannot tell me that my county and my high school cares about me and the rest of the student body when we cannot even carve time out of our day to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Our most recent lockdown drill came less than a week after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and less than four days after Loch Raven went on lockdown after a student brought a pellet gun to school.

I transferred to Dulaney my sophomore year of high school and have participated in a whopping grand total of two fire drills. I’ve been here for two years, and guess what? I still don’t know what to do if there’s a tornado, or an active shooter, and that’s a death sentence.

Well of course, I assume you’ll tell me to reference any staff members’ handy dandy “Emergency Folder,” an oxymoron in itself — considering that a small child has been born and learned how to walk in the time span when the phone numbers and procedures have last been updated. Two years. We haven’t updated the documents designed to save our lives in two years. Who are we going to call when everything hits the fan? The designated emergency personnel who are long retired?

I took a long and hard look though the procedures we’re supposed to follow, and from the way things are going right now, it’s laughable how little we prioritize them. We’ve never conducted a severe weather drill, an alert status drill, or a drop, cover, and hold drill in all of the two years I’ve been at Dulaney. The only reason I even know what those are is because I did them in elementary and middle school.

When I spoke to my mother about this, she was horrified. I can see why. She goes to sleep at night under the false pretense that her daughter’s school and county prioritizes her safety. That lockdown drill? It lasted for maybe two minutes. Nobody came to check whether my third floor classroom’s door was locked, or to collect the emergency attendance sheets every teacher is supposed to fill out. But we were told we did a great job, so let’s wait another three years, or until a door is opened for the wrong person and we have to face the facts that we are nauseatingly unprepared for the unexpected.

If I sound angry here, I am. I’m furious. How naïve do we have to be to not recognize this as a problem? I see students come and go all of the time, doors get opened without question, and the only time anyone ever asks for my ID is after hours at school dances.

And don’t you dare tell me that arming my teachers is the solution to this. I will not walk into a classroom knowing that there is a firearm within five feet of my seat. Don’t push guns on me, my peers and my teachers. This shouldn’t even be a discussion. There are other ways to secure a school.

The counter argument I’ve heard is that arming teachers would deter would-be murderers from coming into a school in the first place. This argument can’t even stand on both legs. In nearly every instance of a school shooting, the shooter commits suicide before they can be arrested and suffer consequences. If murderers don’t fear death, what difference would it make if a school staff member was armed? Can we rely on teachers to act appropriately in a situation like that?

I don’t want to see students receiving laptops at outdated campuses with one student resource officer for 2,000 kids. It’s a slap in the face. That same money could’ve gone to mine and many others’ peace of mind. But here’s how that works: nothing will change until somebody makes the choice to monetarily back my life. I want to feel safe at school. Knowing what I know now, I don’t.

But I’m not sure how many of my peers have to die across the country before Dulaney and Baltimore County Public Schools decides that this is a problem worth looking into. After all, why is the Maryland Board of Education building more secure than our high school?