New security measures address safety concerns

School will now enforce ID policy and restrict entrances during the day

Security+guard+Marva+Smith+watches+the+front+entrance+after+school+%7C+Pearlman
Security guard Marva Smith watches the front entrance after school | Pearlman

Security guard Marva Smith watches the front entrance after school | Pearlman

Security guard Marva Smith watches the front entrance after school | Pearlman

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On Sept.16 a Wilmette Junior High student was found with a loaded firearm in his bedroom. Police were called and school resumed on Monday as normal.
The threat of school violence is apparent all across the country including the New Trier district.

In response to this trend, the administration has installed new kiosks, double-buzzer vestibules at entries, an upgrade of the district’s video surveillance, a smaller entrance, limited entrances during the day, and enhanced visitor management systems.

According to the Chicago Tribune, future plans to implement shatter resistant film and window shades are also in the works. Metal detectors, while commonly used in other schools, are not part of the plans.

According to Assistant Principal of Student Programs and Operations, Athena Arvanitis, New Trier is not looking at metal detectors, which are commonly used in other schools. Instead, New Trier is installing new prominent kiosks near the doorways.

Arvanitis believes that these security enhancements bring us closer to a safer environment.

“We also installed a buzzer system because before, it was difficult for a security staff member to supervise the entrance. But now with a condensed entrance, security will be able to see who’s entering or exiting the school,” said Arvanitis.

Orchestra teacher Peter Rosheger agreed, the ID buzzing system creates a sense of containment.

“New Trier wants students to feel safe, but not feel like they are being watched. I want students to know that we take our student’s safety as our priority.”

Junior Feinerman feels safer with the new updated ID system.

“I like the ID system because it creates a safer environment for everyone. I think carrying ID’s are essential because we don’t want anyone who’s not supposed to be at the school enter the school,” Feinerman said.

PPS member, Amir Anail, feels safer with the new security system, too.

“To be honest, in my previous years when I didn’t have an ID, I felt like something was missing, but now I feel safer as a worker and feel happy for the students.”

“Teachers are very happy with the system. New Trier is giving every resource and opportunities for students and staff,” said Anail.

In fact, Anail said his management admires the security: “My management loves the security and the accountability for safety I’m given. Unfortunately, I know many schools who don’t have these additions and opportunities for students and faculty, so I’m very lucky.”

And many faculty and students believe it’s about time the school implemented an updated ID system.

Junior Charlotte Cleary believes it is essential for every school to have these policies.

“I think these new security updates are definitely relevant. Lockdowns and intrusions are possible anywhere and it’s important not to underestimate any area or incident.”

In fact, some teachers even prepared for lockdowns or intrusions since last year.

“We have planned for any intrusions or lockdowns since last spring. My class talked about what we could during the event, but this process is still evolving, this challenges the new facility, and this is still a working progress,” said Rosheger.

Essentially the school is always working on ways to improve on their security. According to Arvanitis, “We have hired security consultants from Deerfield-based Telgian Engineering and Consulting, and from Washington, D.C.-based Facility Engineering Associates to look at our facility and look at ideas for improvement.”

However, while some faculty and students think this system is necessary, some believe the school should focus its efforts on issues such as mental health issues and drug addiction. Senior Andrea Lopez said, “I believe there are other issues regarding drugs and student mental health issues that are more important at this time.”

“Some students are questioning the extent that these attempts to make school safer are actually not changing much.”

Junior Tenzin Jamyang said, “I don’t think the policy makes a big difference because most students were already carrying their IDs around in school.”

Senior Elizabeth Johnson believes the security is not enough. “First, most shootings are done by current or former students who would have a student ID. More importantly, I feel pretty strongly that anyone could walk into the building between 8 and 8:15 and wouldn’t be questioned which makes the ID situation pointless. The school feels secure throughout the day, but I think the mornings are lacking.”

Senior Maggie Graves thinks the school’s security is still pretty loose.

“It’s still easy for people who don’t go to NT to walk in with the students in the morning or when they are leaving in the afternoon.”

Despite criticisms, NT is working on improving their security.

“Our biggest goal is for New Trier to maintain a welcoming, but secure environment. We just finished a huge phase of implementation, and now we are working on the next phase. I would also like to give a big thanks to the New Trier community. We are happy to see staff and people who are mindful and supportive of the changes,” said Arvanitis.

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