Lockdown Drill for First Graders

“Teachers and Students,” said the voice over the loud-speaker, “we are now going to practice the Lockdown drill. Remember, this is just a drill.”

The teacher immediately got up and turned off the classroom lights and locked the door. If there was a closet, the students would have been ushered into it. Instead, they were directed to the corner of the room where an intruder in the hallway would not see them. Twenty eight first graders, a teacher, a teacher’s aid, and a volunteer grandmother — all asked to keep silent and still for 15 minutes or so.

After the drill, they sat and talked about it. The students wanted to know what if they were in the bathroom. Good question …and a short discussion – hurry to any classroom, they didn’t have to go back to theirs. “What if I leave the bathroom and all the other doors are locked?” Then return to the bathroom and stand on the toilet and stay quiet. These 7-year old students had good questions.

How different it was for me when I was young. I remember two drills when I was in school. First, the universal fire drill where we all had to up and leave in an orderly fashion. And, second the ‘air raid’ drill where we had to sit under our desks and prepare for Russians to drop bombs on us. Ok, most students across the country had to sit under their desks but the school I went to had tunnels between the convent, rectory and church. We all trooped to the bowels of the buildings and we crouched there during the drill.

There was this one time when I was a freshman in high school and we had a fire drill.  I was in a car accident earlier that year and my leg was in a cast and I had two miserable crutches to get around. When the fire bell rang, there wasLife is amazing. And then it's awful ... no way I could hustle down the three flights of stairs and join the others. Instead, I stayed there, knowing it was a drill and waited for it to be over. Unbeknownst to me, my sister (two years older than me) was searching high and low for me outside and was upset to hear I was left behind. She broke ranks, disobeyed the nuns and hustled back into the school, up the 3 flights of stairs until she found me.  It was one of the kindest things she could have done for me at the time.

So, sitting quietly on the floor, surrounded by first graders clearly opened my eyes as to how much things have changed in the world. Russian bombs never landed on my school nor was there ever a fire. Sadly, there have been MANY men (yes, middle/upper class, white men) who have entered buildings with weapons only to hurt the people inside.

I’m grateful for the drill but unhappy they have to exist in the first place. It’s just a reminder to surround yourself with people you love and let them know how much they mean to you. Simple request. Do it now.

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