March 3, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

‘We want to do everything we can to prepare our students’

The ALICE Drills at St. Joseph-Ogden High School looked a little different this year thanks to COVID-19.


Principal Gary Page said the district had to do each drill twice to account for their two different groups of students.


They also sent live stream links to their remote only students.


“In terms of our ALICE or Law Enforcement Drill we were not able to simulate an actual intruder or real-life situation like we have been able to the last couple of years,” he said. “Instead, we had to have a more regimented evacuation so we could maintain better social distancing.”


Page said he feels the drills that use a simulated intruder are actually more effective.


“Even when the students know it is just a drill having the element of a real-life situation gets the heart pumping and allows the students and staff to truly practice making informed decisions under pressure,” Page said. “Some of the best feedback we have received from students over the last couple of years is including this element.”


Page said the staff talked through the decision making processes more than they usually do with students to compensate for not having the real-life situation but it wasn’t the same.


During the presentation at Living Word Church, which the district uses as their evacuation meeting point, School Resource Officer Shawn Hallett and Athletic Director Justin Franzen presented statistics and discuss why the district uses ALICE which stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate.


“In this discussion, they also include examples of different options of what to do in different situations but the biggest point is getting the students to understand they have the choice to run, hide, or fight and it is up to each person to make the best choice to ensure their safety,” Page said.
Page said he wants the community to know that even though the drills are not fun to do, think about, and can oftentimes be tough to talk about they are important.


“Unfortunately, this happens way too often in our world today and we want to do everything we can to prepare our students to know what they can do to make it home at the end of the day whether it is in the school, at the mall, a restaurant, college, or anywhere else they may be,” Page said.

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