Once in a while, a beautiful thing happens at Clark High School. When the magic words resound through the intercom, students in classrooms across the campus huddle together in a dark, cramped embrace. Wrapped in each other’s arms, they gather in corners and under desks.
Even teachers engage in the celebration, taping up windows and frantically texting administrators, desperately hoping that their school is not to be the next victim on the national news. All the while, students giggle and gossip, praying that it’ll be a long one.
At Clark, students consider a lockdown to be a blessing, despite the reasons for which they are called in the first place. To an outsider, the prospect of hastily shutting down the school and tucking away crowds of students in dark classrooms under fear of a potentially perilous threat must seem terrifying.
But to Clark students, lockdowns are just part of the high school experience. As opposed to asking questions like, ‘Are we safe?’ or ‘Is there a shooter?’ students ask, ‘So is the homework still due today?’ or ‘Does anyone have food?’
According to a teacher who wished to remain anonymous, lockdowns seem to invoke excitement among students, rather than expected panic.
“I was in the middle of a lecture, and they came on the loudspeaker and called a hard lockdown. I always get kind of anxious when we have lockdowns, and I sometimes have to really calm myself down to not freak out. But last time, right when the announcement of the lockdown finished, my kids erupted in squeals and cheers.”
Incidents of school violence, whether perpetrated by intruders or students, have become more publicly scrutinized and feared over the past few years. Tragic events like those at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and Umpqua Community College in 2015, were publicized across the nation, and rightly so.
But here at Clark, student concern regarding school safety and the necessity of lockdowns has remained decidedly tepid.
“For me, hearing the loudspeaker announce a lockdown is like the feeling a child gets when they find their favorite toy. And if it’s during AP Statistics, or AP Literature, it feels like a blessing from above,” said senior Melekte Demyanos.
Here, students’ confidence in their safety at school remains at an all time high. And even with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada, the buzz at Clark comes not from the grass, but from the magic word: ‘lockdown.’