Marshall School Board told active shooter training is a ‘life skill’ for students

File photo Staff at Marshall High School evacuate a classroom and then duck for cover after seeing a mock active shooter during a drill held in October that is part of ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training. The mission at ALICE Training Institute is to help others improve chances of survival.

MARSHALL — While some students may experience anxiety over active shooter training, two Marshall Schools District officials touted the benefits of a program called ALICE.

Marshall Middle School Principal Mary Kay Thomas and Marshall High School Principal Brian Jones joined other members of a safety committee in presenting an update to district board members Monday on the active shooter response training being conducted at district sites.

Thomas told the board if she had a child in the school system, “I would definitely want my child to get this information.”

Jones said he looks at the training as a life skill.

“Unfortunately, it’s the world we live in. So whether it’s in school, or grocery store, a church, a movie theater, professional game, an airport — this is a life skill,” he said.

Thomas and Jones are part of a safety committee that spearheaded the effort to provide ALICE training to students, teachers and support staff at all of the district’s school sites.

ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate and was developed by the ALICE Training Institute for not only schools, but work sites, organizations or individuals.

According to district Executive Assistant Tricia Stelter, the safety committee approached the school board in August and asked for support in implementing the ALICE model at the school sites. She reported that school staff participated in a full training and drill in October. She then described the various activities and drills for students throughout the school year.

“We made great progress in implementing our ALICE model, including training of all of our staff, communicating with the parents and the community and the most important component — training our students on the ALICE model,” Stelter said.

“Mary Kay, is there a lot of kids with anxiety over this?” board Chairman Jeff Chapman asked at the end of the presentation.

“Not necessarily just this, but we have a lot of kids with anxiety,” Thomas answered.

“I read an article the other day about this kind of training is scarring kids. That is not good,” Chapman said.

“I think I read something pretty similar,” Thomas said. But she said counselors didn’t see a big concern among most students.

“But kids that typically have some significant anxiety, we did see those kids in the office during those times,” she said.

Board member Bill Swope asked if the students get adequate notification ahead of a drill. Thomas told him the students get a “review date” ahead of any drill.

That is when Swope asked about how staff felt about the process.

“I think the process has been healthy for all of us,” she said.

“I hope our students will at least feel like they know what to do, other than shelter in place and be as quiet as you can and just hope nothing would happen,” Jones said.

“The feedback I received from our students was that they felt more empowered. And from our staff, they reported to me they really felt like our students were very attentive, engaged, asked insightful questions and it was something they wanted to know. Hopefully, they now feel like they have a life skill as they go along. It’s being used widely in many schools, colleges and universities. I think, it’s going to be just part of life moving forward.”

Chapman also asked about the possible need of more resource officers in the schools.

“What does ALICE recommend? We are blessed with a police department. Response times here are in seconds. I’m just wondering what ALICE thought about that. Do they recommend resource officers in every building?” he said.

Jones said he doesn’t recall ALICE training focusing on resource officers or giving any recommendation.