Connecticut tragedy sparks local reaction

Posted in: News
By Todd Brooks
Dec 20, 2012 - 9:01:12 AM

COVERLast Friday, an armed intruder in Sandy Hook, Conn. took the lives of 27 people, including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 at an elementary school.
The shooting shook many people and left many wondering if something like it could happen in their own community and wondering what could be done from something like it from occurring in their own backyard.
Area schools have already started looking for ways to make their students safer.
Marlow Superintendent George Coffman said he met with his principals on Saturday to discuss what his district could do.
“We’ve instituted some small, little things that I prefer not to go into for safety concerns,” Coffman said. “I will say the teachers are aware of what they are supposed to do.”
Attendance this week has stayed steady at the schools – good news in Coffman’s eyes.
“We have not had a ton of questions about it,” Coffman said.
The superintendent is making sure the school is prepared for the worst, but is hoping there is never a time when the plan has to be implemented.
“I hope we never have to worry about it,” Coffman said. “I hope I never have to go through something like this as long as I am an administrator. This was a tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to that community.”
“We didn’t talk about (the event) a whole lot at the schools. We just want to protect our kids the best we can.”
Coffman stated the new elementary school now under construction will have at least one safety advantage over the current one. Set to open next school year, the new building will only have three entrance points.
The events in Connecticut were not ignored elsewhere locally either.
“We are going to continue to do what we do every day,” Central High Superintendent Bennie Newton said. “We are very conscientious about our surroundings and we have procedures in place in the event of a violent or terrorist attack.
“All teachers are aware of what the procedures are and what they are supposed to do.
“There is a crisis plan in each classroom.”
The district also has had contact with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO).
“The county sheriff’s department came out and got our building layouts, so we can work together with them on that.”
Two and a half years ago Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers, SCSO and area first responders conducted a simulation at Central High School using the exact scenario played out in Conn. The drill taught inter-agency cooperation.