Londonderry Schools Host Safety Drill with Police

Schools have focused on increased security in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, in which both students and staff members were killed.
In an effort to protect the town’s children and staff, Londonderry school officials, in coordination with the police department, instituted a series of measures aimed at securing the schools and creating a communication system that links schools and district offices with emergency first responders.

That system was put to the test in a drill that took place at all district schools on Wednesday, Sept. 25. The drill tested some of the new security equipment the district purchased with money approved in the March election.
Londonderry High School Principal Jason Parent said the drill at his school went well.
“It was very successful, especially being the first one of the year,” he said. “The teachers and students were very compliant and everyone did what they were supposed to and it was very quiet. It’s phenomenal to get that kind of cooperation and have a drill enacted in seconds. Seconds, not minutes. It went very well.”
Matthew Thornton Elementary School Principal Sharon Putney said it was “definitely a successful drill. The police presence was helpful and it was a good way to test the new panic buttons and radios the district has provided and to see if there were any areas that needed improvement.”
Principal Mary Coltin of North Elementary School agreed.
“It was very successful,” she said. “Everyone moved quickly. The teachers prepared the kids so that they wouldn’t be afraid, and we had a practice announcement to prepare the kids to know when it happened, what it would sound like.”
Londonderry Middle School Principal Richard Zacchilli also said the drill went well. He said at the beginning of the year, the teachers were given drill packets to prepare them for fire and lockdown drills.
“An announcement was made indicating to the kids that there was a lockdown in place and that they should get into lockdown position,” he said. “It was good (School Resource Officer) Brad Warriner was there as well as (Assistant Superintendent of Schools) Andy Corey.”
Principal Linda Boyd of South Elementary School said the teachers and students at her school acted quickly and took part in a practice lockdown drill prior to the district drill.
“The kids know what to do. Some of them have said, ‘we did this since kindergarten,’” Boyd said.
Moose Hill Kindergarten Director Bonnie Breithaupt noted the drill went well for the district’s youngest students.
“We have two drills, one for the a.m. students and another for the p.m. students, and both went very well,” Breithaupt said.
Londonderry Police Lieutenant Christopher Gandia said officers were present to observe and provide suggestions.
School District Superintendent Nathan Greenberg sent a letter to parents to advise them of the lockdown drill, and then followed up with a letter saying everything went according to plan. He called the drill a success, but said still to be addressed are the closing of doors and shutting off of lights.
“We will, as a matter of normal practice, conduct a review and address, if necessary, any details, procedures and practices that can improve drill performance and safety,” Greenberg concluded. “Too, I would like to extend our thanks to the Londonderry Police Department for their presence and assistance.

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