‘Options, should we have to face the unthinkable’
By Holly Jenkins
Special to the Rappahannock News
Staff members of both Rappahannock County High School and Elementary School have completed active shooter response training — ALICE training — during which they learned crucial safety and survival tips.
ALICE is an acronym which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate.
Mark Currence and Chris Ubben, deputies of the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office, led the training workshops by not only educating the staff, but taking them through various life saving scenarios if ever faced with an active gunman.
When asked about the experience, RCHS staff member Karen Pempel spoke about the importance of being properly trained for such an event.
“The ALICE training was an eye-opening experience. Even though it was frightening, I believe that in a real-world situation the chances of survival would be greater as a result,” she said.
Brandon Burley, the high school’s athletic director, added: “I believe the training was crucial in helping our staff understand the seriousness of an active shooter and our roles to help minimize catastrophe. Anytime something new is introduced, it can create a sense of discomfort; however, I truly feel these steps will benefit our school and community in the event we were ever faced with a situation like this.”
Meanwhile, while the high school staff underwent ALICE training, the staff at the elementary school were learning preventive measures by completing Youth Mental Health First Aid Training. The training is designed to help adults see warning signs of both a mental health crisis and addiction.
The course was delivered by John Waldeck and Sallie Morgan through the Mental Health Association of Fauquier County, thanks to a grant from the Fauquier Health Foundation. The course has been available to RCPS staff for the last few years. In fact, Rappahannock County Public Schools was the first Virginia school system to make this important training available to all teachers.
RCHS guidance counselor Dani Pond spoke on the importance of both of these types of training among Rappahannock’s educators.
“We cannot pretend that school violence will never happen in our schools and we must be proactive in order to keep our students safe. I appreciate the two-fold approach that our superintendent and sheriff’s office has taken. We are addressing the causes and signs of school violence coupled with being equipped with options, should we have to face the unthinkable.”
In addition, RCPS Superintendent Shannon Grimsley addressed the importance of student safety.
“These trainings are just the beginning of the comprehensive, proactive approach we are taking to modify and implement safety and crisis management plans that are practical and conducive to ensure student safety. We are not only concerning ourselves with how we respond to an emergency, but how we create an environment of awareness and a culture of preparedness where we are better able to assess a threat and prevent an emergency.”
This past week, the ALICE training was held for elementary school staff, while the high school staff completed the Mental Health First Aid Training.
Holly Jenkins is the public information officer for Rappahannock County Public Schools.