Safety & Style

New entrance enhances building security, addresses concerns following late-December incident

Elizabeth Payton and Kaylee Renno

An impenetrable tension loomed over the building as students arrived to school on a late-December morning, just three days after the first incident of its kind.

Preceding a school lockdown that lasted hours on Friday, Dec. 17, multiple gunshots rang out in the student parking lot during dismissal. During the course of the event, of which a student described as an act “to provoke fear,” no one was injured. The gun was only fired in the air, never towards any persons.

Although the suspect was confirmed as a nonmember of the Winnetonka student body and was never in the building at any point, the sheer reality of what happened had many community members questioning the safety of those who routinely enter the building.

Senior Gage Rabideaux was among the people who experienced the incident firsthand. She remembers feeling afraid in the moment, but admits to being more fearful of what could have happened.

“My life could’ve been extraordinarily different if that gun went from a 90-degree angle to a 180-degree one,” Rabideaux said. “Or if what went up came down on me, or somebody I love. I’m more afraid than I’m willing to admit to the entire school. [In this instance] I could count all the shots on one hand…I’d need several hands to count for other unfortunate schools.”

After a long weekend, brewing apprehension was met with a town hall-stylemeeting, held by the school administration, district officials and police at 8 a.m. on Dec. 20. There, students were able to ask questions, provide feedback and, if needed, receive counseling.

Topics relating to safety and prevention dominated the discussion, and with the renovated main entrance yet to be revealed, some students questioned how it might add to the overall security of the building.

Rabideaux said she is glad something is being done to enhance the school’s security, but she is unsure of how much the new entrance additions will actually help students.

However, since the entrance has arrived new security features have already prevented unwanted situations from arising, according to administrator Drew White.

“One of the things we have wanted to do for a very long time is be proactive about our security,” White said. “The very first person that any visitor should see…is security personnel. [Security personnel] is always monitoring our campus to make sure that they can alert us to situations, sometimes even before they occur.”

Along with the inclusion of a vestibule, which prevents unauthorized visitors from prematurely entering the building, a total of five 50-inch TV’s were installed to ensure that all cameras in the building are being constantly monitored.

White also said everything, down to the furniture, was handpicked to improve the functionality of the new space, but such a vast project was not met without some concerns.

“This [the renovation] is something that

the district has worked on for a very long period of time,” White said. “It was planned several times over the past 10 to 15 years, and it did cost a lot more than we intended.”

The visage of the new entrance has prompted mixed reaction from students and staff, junior Jacalyn Cindrich observed. She said that while some think the look is “too different,” she believes it is a “nice addition” and will boost the school’s reputation.

“I think the main entrance

makes our school look better,” Cindrich said. “The building looks very old- it’s basically all brick. But now we have this nice new entrance that makes us stand out. I don’t have any concerns about it. It is helping security and makes me feel perfectly safe.”

Other students are more concerned with the safety flaws that have been presented with the stylistic choices that were made. Freshman Tristan Franseen said he still feels unsafe with the open concept idea, especially since the December incident which happened on that side of the building.

“It’s too visible,” Franseen said. “There’s too many windows. If there is an intruder outside, they could see right through the windows and kn

ow right where we are, or even shoot at us from outside. Putting up blinds in the inside would help that though.”

The chances of such a situation occurring may be low, but it is possible- many students saw a glimpse with the incident that happened only a few months ago. Anyone who has concerns about the entrance, especially regarding safety, should contact their administrator, counselor or a staff member.

Students, staff express their thoughts on the design, overall unity of new entrance

“It’s nice on the inside, but I feel it doesn’t match the rest of the school on the outside. It does give us more space, since it is kind of like a hallway where students can enter and leave with less crowding,” sophomore Carmen Rodgers-Francis said.

“I like it and I think it looks very bright and welcoming. I also like that it gives us new office spaces and meeting spaces. And hopefully in the future, we might have more additons to make it blend more with the rest of the school,” English teacher Laura Ryczek said.

“The entrance itself functions perfectly as intended. The design by itself is very modern, but when compared to the rest of the building, it does stick out. Overall, though, I like it,” trumpet-playing senior Dillion Brennenman said.

“I think the color is honestly too bright- it hurts my eyes, and for only that we had to wait like five months. Wack but I like that we have en- trance finally,” sophomore Izabella Montelongo said.

I really like the outside of it [though], it doesn’t necessarily match the building’s original design. I like that it has our building name and it is bright and lights it up. It draws the eye. I think over time it will fit really well,” industrial arts teacher Patrick Hupp said.