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Heights Community Safety Meeting Draws Interest and Support

Heights Community Safety Meeting Draws Interest and Support

Hamilton Heights School Corporation hosted a special community meeting Wednesday night to share its safety procedures and discuss school safety concerns.   The meeting brought together parents, residents, corporation safety team, school leaders, and representatives from the Hamilton County Emergency Management, Sheriff’s, Atlanta, Arcadia, Cicero Police, Jackson Township Fire, and Cicero Fire Departments together to discuss the corporation’s current safety measures, training opportunities, the role of mental health and school violence, and future safety enhancements followed by a Q & A session.

During the program attendees took a deep dive into one of the safety protocols entitled ALICE. ALICE is broken up into five strategies: Alert: Notify as many people as possible within the danger zone that a potentially life-threatening risk exists. Lockdown: Secure in place, and prepare to evacuate or counter, if needed.  Inform: Continue to communicate the intruder’s location in real time. Counter:  Interrupt the intruder and make it difficult or impossible to aim.  Evacuate: Remove yourself from the danger zone when it is safe to do so.

 “The HHSC school board and leadership team felt it was important to share firsthand with our community what we have been doing as well as what we plan to do in the future to make sure our schools are as safe as possible,” said Dr. Derek Arrowood, Superintendent, who notes the corporation has always held a strong commitment to providing a safe learning environment for students and staff.

“Our safety protocols are always being reviewed, enhanced, updated, and discussed based on the latest research and input from specialists on this issue locally and from around the country,” said Cliff Hackman, Heights Primary School Assistant Principal and Corporation Safety Coordinator.

Jon Tindal, a Deputy with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department and School Resource Officer for the Middle School, is one of the three full-time Student Resource Officers serving the corporation, said the turn out and participation from our community was excellent.  “The care and concern for our students and interest in working together for the health and safety of all speaks volumes about our community,” commented Tindal, who is backed by nearly 25 years of law enforcement experience.   

“It was important that we show the community the number of individuals who are involved behind the scenes who proactively play a part in the planning and implementation of safety and security measures in the ongoing effort to keep their children safe,” he explained.  “Safety is a continuing, never-ending process that will take the efforts of all of us to keep moving forward to ensure our school environment is as safe and secure as possible.”

“As a teacher, I was glad to see that the corporation took the time to explain to the whole community the safety measures that we have been taking and will continue to try to improve upon,” said Jane Shields, who is entering her 20th year as a teacher.  “All of our efforts to keep their children safe will work best if we can do them in cooperation with parents.  I was especially encouraged to see the large turn-out of first responders.”

“The bottom line,” noted Dr. Arrowood, one of many employees that have children enrolled within the school corporation, “is we want parents and the community to know that we are looking out for the safety and well-being of everyone throughout our campus and we are doing everything we can to keep them safe every single day.”

Attendees left with the message that everyone can help with this effort inside and outside the classroom by keeping this phrase in mind, “If you see something or hear something say something!!!”