Five years after a gunman opened fire inside Chardon High School, killing three students and paralyzing another, a group of Chardon educators are coming together to help students and staff stay safe in their own schools.
"It's important to keep this out in the forefront, so we don't become numb to school shootings," said Frank Hall, the former football coach at Chardon High School who is credited with saving many students' lives when gunfire erupted five years ago.
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"If it can happen in Chardon, it can literally happen in any community," said Doug Snyder, the school's athletic director who spent 14 minutes on the phone with a 911 dispatcher in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Teaching school safety
Hall, Snyder and others from the community are hosting a school safety seminar on Monday in Mentor as part of the Coach Hall Foundation, a non-profit organization focused protecting children in schools. The seminar will focus on preparedness and vigilance.
"An active shooter drill has to become part of the mentality in schools today," added Hall.
More than 100 school administrators, teachers and police are expected to be in attendance. A parent from Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut will also attend, as will representatives from Virginia Tech University. Both schools experienced their own gruesome shootings.
"Just like Danny, Russell and Demetrius, we're going to keep them alive," said Hall. "We're going to keep them alive and let them know that they're not going to die in vain."
Five years ago
It was February 27, 2012, when TJ Lane opened fire inside Chardon High School's cafeteria, killing fellow students Danny Parmertor, Russell King and Demetrius Hewlin. Three other students were injured. Hall was inside the cafeteria at the time.
"Demetrius, Russell and Danny, they'll always be a part of me," said Hall. "It was just tough to let them down that day."
Hall has since left Chardon to coach at Lakeside High School in Ashtabula. He still carries a cumbersome amount of guilt, angry at himself for not being able to save the three students.
Andy Fetchnik, the principal at the time, feels the same.
"I wish I could have done more," said Fetchnik, who is now the principal at Mentor High School.
Two years prior to the Chardon shooting, the school held its own active shooter drill. Hall, Fetchnik and Snyder said they believe the drill was key in saving lives the day of the shooting.
Lane is serving a life sentence in prison.