Administration looks for input on security policies

At promptly 8:05 am on any weekday, a group of St. Paul Academy and Summit School students crowd at the Briggs Gymnasium entrance, anxiously waiting for someone to open the locked doors and let them into the school. These doors, which most students enter the school through every day, lock everyday at exactly 8:05, much to the dismay of latecomers. This same scene repeats again and again when students have athletics at night or come back to school to get a forgotten book or assignment on the weekend. While this may seem unreasonable to many students, the security department hopes that measures like this will improve the overall security of St. Paul Academy and Summit School’s Upper School campus.

Though many students see the security guards walking around the school, many administrators and staff are involved in the safety of the school. Along with the security guards, Security Supervisor Miranda LaBrosse, Director of Finance Mary Albachten and Head of School Bryn Roberts work together to shape the security policies at both SPA campuses.
Together, the group tries to create policies that will “provide the highest degree of safety for students, faculty, staff and people on campus,” Roberts said. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings on Dec.14, 2012, SPA has intensified many of its security measures. Some of these new measures include locking external doors during the school day and at night after 7:00. Students also need to sign in and be escorted to their lockers at night and on the weekend.

The new security policies were also implemented to keep track of where students and faculty members are in the school at what time in case of an emergency. Roberts said that a gas leak in the chemistry room at the school over Winter Break made it clear to the security department that there should be a sign in sheet for everyone who enters the building after hours. For safety reasons, the school needed to be evacuated, but it was difficult for security to locate everyone around the school to get them out. “We did not know who was in the building,” Roberts said, and that made it hard to get everyone out of the building.

“With a sign in, we feel that we can better provide protection for the people in the building. It is not designed to keep you out,” Roberts said, but more “concern about who comes and goes.”

While security measures like the sign in sheet are meant to be beneficial to the school’s safety, some students find these precautions frustrating. Junior Connor Allen, who plays basketball and golf, feels like these measures are inconvenient and not helpful to students.

“I feel like certain security measures that have been implemented recently are unnecessary and do not actually accomplish anything in regards to security,” Allen said. He said that when he forgets something at school, he becomes irritated when he has to go through many steps with the security guards to get his belongings back.

Freshman Minnie Arnold, a soccer and basketball player, often needs to get escorted to her locker by a security guard after a late game or practice.

“I think having the security measures aren’t always the most convenient,” Arnold said. “When I need to get inside or up to my locker I would like to be able to do so without calling security. But after all the horrific events that have been happening in our country I think it is definitely the right thing to have for our students.”

Junior Sonya Das agrees. “[The security guards] are taking good precautions,” she said. In regards to helping students access their lockers and missing materials at night, Das “feels like the security are accommodating. They have been pretty understanding.”

Roberts said that students should voice their opinions and observations about the security at SPA. He admitted that the communication about the new security precautions between the security department and the students and has been “not as effective as it could be.” Roberts hopes that student leadership groups including Upper School Council will have discussions with him and the other faculty in regards to security and the accessibility of the school.