MHS called to action during Dec. 2 false code red


Ryan LeVan

Students remaining seated with the lights on during the active Code Red lockdown on Dec. 2.

Rebekah Bushmire, Editor-in-Chief, Grace Lovejoy, Staff, and Ava Flores, Staff

On Friday, Dec. 2, a Code Red alert sent the school into a lockdown. The alert was caused by an accidental pressing of a staff member’s badge, which set the entire building into a Code Red lockdown and turned out to be a false alarm.

“Everything was safe, everybody [was] safe and there was really nothing to it. Just the accidental push of a badge. [The system] tells us what badge was pushed and where that badge is located. Sometimes it’s a good accurate location of where the badge is but sometimes it’s not. It allows us to find out the immediate area where the badge is located,” said SRO Brandon Weathersby.

Police presence was reportedly quick to arrive on campus.

“We had a good turn out of officers,” Weathersby said.

Principal Maggie Walls sent an email out to students and families regarding the incident and explained the cause as well as reassurance that the school was safe and there was no threat.

“This morning, we had a code red lockdown inadvertently issued by a staff member. One of our staff members accidently [sic] sent an alert through their security badge. The students and teachers responded very quickly in following our lockdown protocols. At no time were faculty or students in danger,” as said in Walls’ email.

Some teachers reported taking immediate action.

“At first I wasn’t sure [what was happening]. We made sure to follow all the protocols. I went to the door with a broom. If things got real in a Code Red I would want to be prepared. I want my students to know that I will do all I can to protect them, help them, in any kind of situation,” English teacher Rebecca Sultan said.

I want my students to know that I will do all I can to protect them, help them, in any kind of situation.

— Rebecca Sultan

One teacher preferred to comment on the Code Red anonymously.

“I am grateful, in retrospect, to have had that experience because I am going to be better prepared. I hate to say it, I’m going to be better prepared after [that lockdown] than after the drills,” said that teacher.

“[My teacher] was very calm and she made sure that things were happening that needed to happen and at the end you could clearly tell that she was pretty traumatized,” sophomore Zach Graf said. “A lot of other people were pretty scared, too.”

At first, some assumed the lockdown was a drill.

“At first we all kind of thought it was a drill because that initially what everyone thinks whenever one of those goes off but then I did notice the urgency of [my teacher’s] motions and she seemed pretty worried and she was unsure. That kind of told me that, ‘Oh she didn’t know this was happening, this might not be a drill,’” Graf said.

Mikayla Carrino, a sophomore member of the Trail staff, had a similar thought.

“We were sitting [in class], doing our work, and all of a sudden [the alarm] goes off, and everyone kind of jumped. I thought it was a drill, but then when my teacher said, ‘Did anyone get an email that we were having a drill?’ Everyone said no. And then we realized it wasn’t a drill. This was real,” Carrino said.

Students reported teachers silencing the class, shutting lights off and other special measures classes put into place for their classrooms such as barricading the doors with desks.

Students used desks to barricade the doors during the active lockdown. (Camilla O’Connell)

“We’re all waiting there trying to figure out what’s going on and waiting for an response from an email to [my teacher] or anything and then we hear sirens coming down the road and we realized like, ‘Oh this is the real deal,’” Graf said. “We kind of panicked and started barricading the door with the chairs and they’re not the best defense and they just toppled over as soon as someone opened the door.”

Graf said that it was his teacher’s decision to begin to barricade the door and students followed the instruction.

“I thought it was the safest option, really. Just after [lockdown] ended we just took our chairs down and sat normally, but I mean, I feel like there would have been no better option than that because [in] school we are pretty defenseless,” Graf said.

One junior reported that some classroom doors didn’t lock when students attempted to close the door.

“We had a [substitute], and the sub did not know any of the plans and we didn’t know if it was a drill or if it was actually happening. Some kids were a little uncertain. We figured it would be a good idea to take off the magnet. However, the door didn’t lock, so a lot of kids started to get nervous. Me and [another student] stood in front of the door. He said, ‘What if it’s locked on the outside and not the inside?’ He actually went outside to see if the door would lock or not, and it wasn’t,” Jacob Harris said.

Others said teachers continued with class.

“My teacher was in the middle of teaching and then the alarm went off. I was like ‘What? Is this real?’ Then she looked me in the eyes and gave me a look that said ‘this is real and not a drill.’ I got really scared and then she told me to lock the door, but what if I locked it wrong? Then she told us to keep working,” said a student who requested anonymity. “If it was real we would’ve died because we were just sitting at our desks.”

“[The lockdown] was okay. The class wasn’t actually that loud. We were talking because we were in groups going over [a test] because we were going to have a quiz soon,” Ellie Harris (9) said. “I think it was handled well because it wasn’t an actual intruder, so there was no harm. I knew we weren’t going to die, otherwise [my teacher] would have actually done something about it.”

“I was nervous at a point because one of my friends was crying. I wasn’t scared, I was [thinking], ‘If it happens we are just going to have to deal with it and try to get through it,’ rather than me just freak out and freak out everyone else around me,” junior and another Trail staff member Adwa Umoya said.

Students who got to school late, who weren’t in classrooms when the Code Red went into effect, found themselves in difficult situations.

“I got locked in the faculty bathroom because I got to school five minutes late. [The front office staff] let me in the building but then the Code Red like immediately went off and so they were like, ‘Come on, it’s a lockdown, we got to go, you [have] to go hide,’ so they put me in the bathroom and were like, ‘Do not leave until we tell you to leave.’ I sat there and waited, and waited and waited. Is this real or not? Yes? No? Kind of freak out, calm, freak out, calm. Then someone knocked on the door so I opened it and they were like, ‘What are you doing in here?’ and I was like, ‘You guys told me to hide so I did.’ They just completely forgot I was in the bathroom and that really sucked,” Alex Burke-Colón (12) said.

The lockdown worried some students because of the lack of information since the intercom system was unavailable the morning of the Code Red.

“It was such an unknown situation. My teacher didn’t really tell us anything,” Umoya said.

If it was real we would’ve died because we were just sitting at our desks.

— Student, speaking anonymously

Others reported having been through previous lockdown situations.

“The main reason I was freaking out was because I had been in an Orange lockdown before I moved here, and [an intruder] tried to get in the building but couldn’t,” Carrino said.

Although students and faculty may be used to scheduled Code Red drills, the false lockdown allowed administration, teachers and students get a feel for what a real lockdown will look like in terms of procedure.

“[It] definitely brought the realism factor to knowing your plan and what you need to do in order to stay safe. I think it definitely did help a little bit for people to put their plan into action instead of just sitting in their desks,” Graf said.