Concerns continue to rise over White Station campus safety


Sloan Huebner

White Station’s perimeter borders South Perkins Road and is not secured. In light of recent events, much concern has emerged about the openness and vulnerability of the campus.

A stranger enters campus, escaping the eyes of administrators. A janitor opens the door for someone he or she does not know. A student walks into the school with a knife concealed in a backpack. In the wake of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, these are nationwide concerns surrounding school safety. Here at White Station, students and administrators alike are asking the same questions: “How can we prevent these things from happening?” and “Could our school be next?”

In a poll that surveyed over 200 students, 78 percent responded that they did not find the WSHS campus to be secure. However, administrators and students can agree that there is not a straightforward solution to this problem.

“The issue is, how can we secure a campus like this that was built 60 years ago when [campus safety] wasn’t nearly the issue?” Principal David Mansfield said. “I would love a plan to where I have a button that would unlock the [outer doors] at the change of classes.”

Short of building a fence around the perimeter, enclosing and protecting the entire campus proves nearly impossible due to its location and size. Security guards were asked about the challenges of this matter, but they declined to comment.

At the moment, White Station has implemented safety measures within the constraints of available resources. These measures include conducting random metal detector checks and having guards present on campus.

“I’d push for more security; however, from what we’ve learned about the Parkland shooting, more security doesn’t necessarily make a place safer,” Briana Macklin (12) said.

The Shelby County School Board is currently looking into updated technology, such as Mansfield’s suggested doors, but they are unsure if it exists.

When asked “How often do you fear that a school shooting incident like what happened recently in Florida could happen at WSHS,” the most popular poll response, getting 42 percent of the vote, was “sometimes.”

“I feel okay but anxious,” Macklin said. “Sometimes I will be walking through school and have this terrifying idea that [a shooting] could happen right then.”

Freshman Anthony Wiggins differs in his feelings about campus safety, choosing to think about the chances statistically.

“I feel safe because I’m used to all the dangers that most people are scared of,” Wiggins (9) said. “Some people actually think we are going to get shot up, but the chances of that are so low.” Students, as the eyes and ears of the school, play a vital role in matters of campus safety. The administration urges them to speak up about their concerns.

“We listen to what students have to say,” SCS Student Safety Manager Ronald Pope said, “because they really are our most precious commodity as it relates to what we’re trying to do in education.”

Increased security and updated technology is a step in the right direction for Shelby County Schools, but students must also take the responsibility to report any information that might stop a security threat.