Grady Student: “I feel safe/unsafe at Grady because ____”
Grady senior writes that "late or not, anyone could bring a gun to school if they wanted and still can."
By Olivia Veira
APS has a million dollar question in its lap that it can’t afford to answer: how do you make schools more secure?
Just a few days before a Grady High School student shot herself in the leg, Grady began one of the most intensive security protocols that I have seen in my four years at Grady. We had to take our bags off, shed our electronics and walk through metal detectors while teachers half-heartedly patted our bags.
But, no system is perfect. And this one certainly had its loopholes. For example, I, and every student with classes in the gym or the trailers, could walk straight to my gym class, unchecked.
In fact, I had gym with Morgan Tukes on Feb. 27.
Grady’s security is, just as it was, a farce.
Superintendent Errol B. Davis blamed Morgan’s ability to get a gun on campus on her lateness, and said two students let her into gym class. While this may be true, his statement makes it seem like she would have been caught otherwise. Late or not, anyone could bring a gun to school if they wanted and still can.
Except now, students that have classes anywhere else must wait outside for anywhere from 5-20 minutes every morning to have teachers check bags more meticulously. Sometimes, on days when I don’t have class in the gym, I don’t get to class until 8:30.
How would you feel if every time you went to the grocery store, you had to wait in a 15-minute line to have your bags checked?
“I feel safe/unsafe at Grady because ____.”
During homeroom on March 1, my homeroom teacher asked us to complete the sentence. I know that someone could get a gun into the school if they wanted to. I also know some students don’t feel safe without a weapon; wherever I go, a stranger could have a concealed weapon.
Violence is a problem whose reach extends far past the walls of Grady. If the district had tons of money to spend, we could formulate a TSA-like security protocol that would catch all of the weapons brought to school.
But, even the TSA doesn’t catch all of the guns, and we don’t have the money to create such a system. I’m not saying our security isn’t worth the price— it is. But, if I were a school board member having to choose between spending more on educational program, or spending hundreds of thousands on x-ray machines, I would choose education.
Already, funding has been cut left and right. Teachers are underpaid, we never have enough books in classes and supplies are scant. Instead of focusing on stopping people from being able to bring a gun to school, we need to stop them from wanting to bring a gun from school. So many studies have shown that education deters crime. Outside of education in core subjects, students must learn that violence is not the answer to their problems and students should have someone to reach out to about problems.
Grady is an open campus in more ways than one. We are nestled amid very diverse neighborhoods and we have no way of knowing what every student is dealing with outside of school. When the school doors open for students at 8:00, they bring in all of their baggage and problems at home that can’t be seen in a metal detector.
Olivia Veira is a senior at Grady High School and serves as a news editor for the school's newspaper, the Southerner.