Lakewood school tailors active shooter training based on grade level and age group

Posted at 12:13 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 17:43:08-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The heart-pumping, eye-opening crisis training Lakewood teachers went through last year was only the start.

Lakewood teachers barricade a door during scenario training for how to handle an active shooter or other crisis.

While Lakewood police officers played the sounds of a confrontation and gunshots over a speaker last year, teachers at Lakewood's Grant Elementary School locked and barricaded their classrooms, learning how to do it in case the threat ever became real.

Lakewood teachers wait for the signal that their training is over, holding objects they could throw at an intruder that gets through the door.

The next step came this school year when Lakewood Patrol Officer David Acklin helped frame the training for students.

Students are not in scenario training like their teachers. Instead students in Pre-K through 12th grade are all sitting for assemblies tailored to their age group through the end of April.

Officer David Acklin speaks with elementary school students about what to do in an emergency.

Elementary school students read a specially-written book, I'm not scared, I'm prepared, which introduces the children to a tough topic in a way they'll understand.

"In the book, it terms it a 'Dangerous Someone," said Officer Acklin, explaining how the book explains how the book refers to a potential threat.

I'm not scared, I'm prepared is written by a children's author and the ALICE Training Institute.

Students are called sheep, teachers are shepherds in their classroom, if they have to lockdown to keep a shooter out, is their fort.

"The kids chime in and they say, 'it's a fort and you want to protect yourself," said Acklin.

Officer Acklin speaks with teachers after their scenario training in 2018.

For older students, Officer Acklin lays out the A.L.I.C.E. concepts: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate in an assembly.

"Schools holding these, I think it is scary, but I think it's really necessary," said Lakewood High School Freshman Sarah Donaldson.

Teachers stay away from doors and windows after barricading during a scenario training session to learn how to stay safe in an emergency.

The presentations are meant to give students a plan for how to stay alive when they could be in danger.

"Some of it might be a little scary, but that's OK," Acklin told the students. "That's why we're having this discussion, this training, so you are prepared."

Other districts and local police departments are thinking about similar programs too. Police officers from other citites were watching Officer Acklin's talks to see what he does because these kinds of presentations are still pretty new.

But for a group of high school students born after Columbine and just a few years before the shooting at Virginia Tech, getting ready for active shooters is not unusual.

"It's been instilled in us since Kindergarten so this is second nature," said Donaldson. "When we hear a lockdown drill come over the PA, we know what to do and have a game plan."

"I tell them, 'Times have change'," said Acklin. "With the times changing, we have to change as a society, a police department, as educators."