MHS ensures safety for students


ALICE posters hang in all MHS classrooms as a reminder of safety protocol.

Chelsea Garcia, News Reporter

The Thursday after Montrose High School’s Wednesday, February 2nd lockdown, the school environment was different because the hallways were missing students, some teachers significantly lightened the workload, and the main topic of people’s conversation was the lockdown. 

“I thought it was important to discuss with my classes to debrief and process. It was a shared experience. We went through something; whether it was founded or not, it was relevant,” Ms. VanArsdale said. 

The day of the lockdown, there were 272 students marked absent, and the day after there were 627 students marked absent. Many parents were worried about sending their kids to school the day after MHS went into lock down for over three hours.

“As a parent, my concerns were if they didn’t catch the person, then it was possible for them to come back and do something stupid,” parent Eloisa Bates said. “I didn’t want my daughter to be caught in the middle of that crossfire. It was a little scary, and I’m sure she was very scared. She was in the office so it was a little traumatizing for her to go to school the next day. I just wanted things to cool down.”

For the students who did go to school, they explained how school was different and how teachers were a big part on keeping the lockdown conversations going. 

“School felt weird because many of our classmates were gone,” junior Kelsey Parra said. “Personally, all of my classes began with teachers talking about the situation and my classmates talking about their experiences. School felt quiet and serious. I would also notice people were more aware of their surroundings.”  

Lockdown was initiated after the office received a call around 11:30 Wednesday, February 2nd from a person claiming to be a student’s mother. She stated her son had a gun on campus. Per ALICE protocol, students went into lockdown immediately after staff members, Amelia Perez, Judy Wallace, and James Barnhill made an announcement over the intercom. Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the 911 call placed by MHS. Students in the cafeteria scattered and made it safely into nearby classrooms. Students in classrooms barricaded the doors and waited anxiously. Students having lunch off campus were directed to stay off the campus.  Officers then went classroom to classroom around the school searching students’ belongings and also patted them down. No gun was found on campus and students were released around 2:40.

ALICE is a response protocol that empowers people to make good survival decisions if there is an active threat of danger in the building. A stands for Alert which is the first notification of danger. L stands for Lockdown, and this is where students have been taught to barricade the door if evacuation in not an option. I stands for Inform where real time communication reveals the location of the shooter (if present). C stands for Counter which is a last resort and the students prepare to counter the threat. E stands  for Evacuate so that when it is safe people evacuate to the nearest predetermined rally point.

“What I appreciate the most about ALICE is there is so many stories out there about when school shootings occur where people don’t fight back so they become these passive victims,” Principal James Barnhill said.  “ALICE trains us to not be that, ALICE trains us to try and take the situation that is bad in the first place and make the most of it that we could possibly do by preparing us, by practicing, barricading,  by preparing to fight back, by evacuating when we need to when certain situations arise like we know what the threat is and we can stay safe.”

ALICE is not a new security protocol, and staff members have received annual training for the last four years, and all classrooms have a poster as a visual reminder. Having this in place helped prepare MHS staff and students to respond safely to the lock down on Feb. 2nd.

“A big strength was response, we took it serious, we cooperated fully when the lockdown occurred and throughout the afternoon,” Barnhill said. 

Monday, February 28th Montrose high school will be security training and may be going into lockdown one or two times during morning hours. This was put in place so the administrators and front office staff can figure out the new security system. This practice was placed before the recent lockdown, but will give administration and office staff the opportunity to use real life experience to guide the drill.