Safety and mental health assurances at White Station



The crosswalk on South Perkins Rd., where students can cross to school in the early morning and afternoon. The crosswalk is another facet of ensuring safety on school grounds.


Security Guard Thomas Lomax stands watch in the front lobby of the Main Building. Patrolling the hallways for students, intruders and more is one of his main job responsibilities.

In less than one week, numerous kidnappings, a serial shooting spree and several school shooting threats unfolded — leaving Memphis residents fearing for their lives as they waited in suspense to what would come next. As a result, Memphis Shelby County Schools declared extra security would be enforced, which alleviated some students’ concerns while others claimed they felt indifferent.

“Some of our buildings are old, and the equipment is old, too,” Carolyn Jackson, the district’s chief of safety and security, told Chalkbeat after Tuesday’s board meeting. “We’re reimagining what safety and security looks like going into next school year.” A quote from an article published on June 22 of this year from Chalkbeat Tennessee.

The safety measures put in place aim to both increase safety and ease concern at school. The need for these measures, however, not only comes from the current events in this city, but in the minds of many students, arises even earlier to the end of last school year. 

“I think [the recent violence] definitely makes everyone feel more unsafe,” Ximena Olguin (12) said. “Especially [because] of last year’s [lockdown] … towards the end of the school … It’s really caused a lot of fear and panic in the school.” 

The recent soft lockdown on Wednesday, Sept. 14 increased multiple students’ fears about their safety at school. The lockdown occurred because of both an erroneous report and a rightfully suspicious report that created a lot of chaos amongst students. But according to school administrators, there are always methods in place to help ensure students’ safety.

“Some administrative team members even have access to cameras themselves to try to monitor the halls,” 11th grade assistant principal Anthony Bowen said. “Even if we’re having to do something in the office or while we’re doing different things, we can still pull up the cameras and monitor everyone.” 

While numerous safety measures were already in place, the administrative team has recently made efforts to keep the halls under even more supervision. The resource officers standing around the school are supposed to help students know that there is constant protection around.

”Our school resource officers are very visible,” Bowen said. “We are more mobile this year with the addition of golf carts, which gives a little more mobility around different parts of the campus.”

An additional resource that students can take advantage of are the counselors on campus. While some may be reluctant to go to them for help, students such as Olguin vouch for their helpfulness.

“I have [gone to the therapists], not about the recent events, but they’re genuinely good resources that I think a lot of people aren’t aware of,” Olguin said.

With some students unaware of the accessibility of these therapists and others not knowing how to approach them, awareness remains one obstacle in reaching out to these counselors.  However, administration has specific protocols, which, if followed, will help them reach out in the most efficient way. Bowen says that students should always ask their classroom teacher first before anyone else, and then reach out to people above them, such as the counselors and other administrators.

“And then after that they can reach out to their grade level admin, and between those three people, they should be able to get them in touch with whoever they need for further support,” Bowen said.

Even with all the current violence in the city and in schools, Bowen believes that White Station will not succumb to fear and that students play an essential role in that.

“I think our number one defense, and what really separates us from a lot of schools, is just our relationship and our rapport with our students,” Bowen said. “I’ve been in education long enough to know that the campus and the school culture and the safety really lies in the students and the staff.”

Safety measures can only do so much: students must also commit to following safety protocols and cooperating with administration in what is asked of them to achieve a decreased chance of a violent act breaking out in the school.

“[I] am very thankful and grateful for the wonderful start we’ve gotten out to this school year in regards to safety, [and I hope] students continue to value their own safety and [the] safety of others and continue to work with us to try to keep everyone safe,” Bowen said.