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New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

New school year brings changes to campus security

Additional hires, tighter rules, and support aim to make NT safer
A security desk inside the new E-building, one of three authorized entrances to the building

This year, New Trier is taking additional steps to make school safe for all students.

Principal Denise Dubravec said the goal is to improve building safety and continue to make students feel connected while at school.

“I think for every school, the challenge is, how do you make a school feel like it’s a community where kids can come and learn, and just experience high school?” she said, referencing incidents across the country related to school safety. “It just makes us mindful of the responsibility that we have in order to make sure that kids feel safe at their school.”

I think for every school, the challenge is, how do you make a school feel like it’s a community where kids can come and learn, and just experience high school?

— Denise Dubravec

Earlier this year, the school added a new position, director of campus safety, to oversee the security staff at New Trier.

Raimond Pavely was hired and began work in February after 21 years as an officer with the Wilmette Police Department. 

“We were fortunate enough to find someone that has multiple experiences,” Dubravec said. “He serves an integral role bringing all of this together for us.”

As director of campus safety, he is in charge of the security staff and also coordinates with Physical Plant Services, Information Technology, and local law enforcement. 

“The first thing I had to do was assess what was in place and what needed to be changed,” Pavely explained.

In his previous work, Pavely worked on safety protocols for 13 schools in the area that are much smaller than New Trier. Coming to New Trier, he saw a lot of opportunity for improvements.

“With a building this size, there’s a lot of challenges,” he noted. “But ultimately, you could duplicate whatever you do in an elementary school in a high school, but to a bigger extent.”

One challenge is updating the lockdown system with old and new parts of the building as renovations occur.

“With each new addition, we’ve added a few mechanical pieces to the building,” Dubravec said.

She mentioned that the big gray doors between corridors of hallways lock automatically in the case of a fire or a lockdown, and the new track space can be locked down.

“It’s really [about] trying to contain certain areas that you can always leave, but not allowing an intruder to find and get access to certain areas,” Dubravec explained.

The newly constructed E-building is now an authorized entrance in the morning, in addition to the north Trevian Way entrance and the south entrance on Winnetka Avenue. At each entrance,  students must have their IDs to scan into the building.

“We’re trying to make sure that everybody who is in this building belongs in this building,” Pavely said.

He also cited a situation last year in which a non-student was let into the building at an unauthorized entrance.

Now, amidst a crackdown on student absences, only seniors are allowed to leave campus during the school day.

The district gave Pavely permission to hire an additional five security officers compared to last year, which he believes will have a significant impact.

“We’re in charge of so much that the need was there for us to have more security officers in the building,” he said.

Three have already been hired, and an additional two officers will be hired in the next month, according to Pavely.

Additionally, the school is looking to continue communication about school safety with both parents and students. For example, on Aug. 30, adviseries went over a safety presentation.

Dubravec is setting up a safety committee composed of school staff, board members, administrators, and students. The committee meets each quarter to get feedback from people in the building about what is and isn’t working.

“Students who feel connected to their school and have an adult [to go to] will problem solve,” Dubravec said. “That sense of belonging to a community and knowing that you have someone that you can talk to is a really important thing for us.”

Regarding school security and safety , Pavely is encouraged by the steps New Trier is taking.

“It’s constantly a work in progress,” he said. “And we’re on the right path.”

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