HIGH POINT, N.C. — In recent years there has been more attention on finding ways to protect students inside schools.
One local school, Phoenix Academy Charter School in High Point, has spent the last school year implementing and testing new methods to be proactive when it comes to addressing a potential threat inside the school.
When the charter school first opened its doors more than 20 years ago the founders aimed to be innovators in education. They have done that, making strides in character education training. Now the school is trying to help find ways that can be implemented in all schools to protect students.
“It’s happened in too many places. So I feel like we’ve done absolutely everything we can to be able to sleep at night here,” Phoenix Academy Superintendent Kim Norcross said.
Norcross said too much has changed in recent years to not try and be proactive. After the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Norcross started trying to find new ways to protect her students.
“I think proactivity is the key. We have to be proactive in everything we do and think outside the box and think about the what ifs, because if we don’t think about the what ifs we have regrets,” she said.
Phoenix Academy started implementing new systems, like special locks on the doors. In August, the school had sensors installed across the buildings that can detect when a shot is fired and directly make contact with High Point 911.
“So that takes a huge weight off of our teachers. No one has to think that they have to be the ones to make the phone call if something happens, it automatically happens for us,” Norcross said.
Physical security is only one part. Paul Norcross with Phoenix Academy says there are precautions schools need to take before violence ever starts.
“You have the mental health component which is the positive behavior intervention upfront. Training children to resolve situations before they become situations. And give them the tools to change things in a positive way among their peers,” he said.
The third part of their method is making sure students, teachers, and the police know what to do and the best way to respond inside their school.
“Without being frightening and assuming, if you train the kids and the staff in a positive way, and let them know that there are systems there to help them and can benefit them, everybody wins,” he said.
The school continues to run through the security system and adding more ways to protect the students. There are more innovative methods they want to include in the buildings, including an audio and light system that could help distract a potential threat.