Oak Lawn Students Return to 'New Reality' After Sandy Hook Shootings

Local school officials spend Monday reviewing building security, helping students ease back into school on first day back since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Oak Lawn’s public and parochial students returned to school on Monday to an increased police presence around local campuses on their first day back at school since last week's Connecticut school shootings.
“The increased police presence was at all of our buildings just to serve as reassurance for our families,” Oak Lawn-Hometown Dist. 123 spokesman Ben Grey said.
While students eased back into schoolwork and met with counselors, school administrators around Oak Lawn were reviewing building security, particularly external doors, to see if anything more could be done to prevent a possible shooter from entering their respective buildings.
The horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that left 20 children and six adults dead also dominated the weekend’s conversation on the Moms of Oak Lawn Facebook group. Jittery parents tried to seek out information from each other about security policies at their children’s schools.

“My kids are in district 122...Does anyone know if the cost of metal detectors or other forms of security have been looked into? I wouldn't mind doing some research to see if it is doable. Anyone interested?"
“In order to enter Columbus Manor, you need to be buzzed into the office and then buzzed again to enter the school's hallways. But that's it. If I had a gun hiden somewhere, it would be buzzed in with me!”

“Any mom's on here send your kids to [parochial school]? These were not questions I asked when we took the tour, I was focused on education and viewing the class rooms, I didn't even think about asking them what they had for safety.”
“Any word about Harnew Elementary?”
“I’d like to know about Kolb also?”

Most of Oak Lawn’s public and parochial schools sent information to parents as events unfolded in Connecticut on Friday, explaining their district’s or school's respective security polices and practices.
D123 outlined the district’s safety practices, including annual training for faculty and staff on how to respond to a violent situation in their school building. The district's five grammar schools are also equipped with video surveillance, and has been working with the Oak Lawn Police Department to connect the surveillance with Oak Lawn authorities.
Oak Lawn Community High School began the school day Monday with a moment of silence for the Sandy Hook victims.
“Teachers were provided resources and suggestions for how to handle student questions and concerns regarding the tragedy at Sandy Hook School,” D229 Superintendent and OLCHS Principal Dr. Michael Riordan said by email.
This past summer, the high school installed a secured check-in area, so that visitors can enter the building, but are held in a secure space so that a greeter can check an ID and issue a visitor’s pass prior to having access into the school.
In addition, OLCHS has installed 92 new cameras in doorways, hallways, parking lots, and other key areas within the school building.

And as recently as Dec. 4, Riordan said that the high school conducted a mock lockdown so that staff and students would be familiar with the process and prepared in the event of a real lockdown.

“We will be discussing some additional door security measures with our Board of Education at next month’s meeting,” Riordan said.

Richards High School has similar measures in place and sent a letter to parents on Friday, attached to this article.

Ridgeland Dist. 122 also posted a message to parents on its website, assuring families that the district was on top of security.

D122 Actiing Superintendent Julie Shelberg explained that district officials meet regularly with the Oak Lawn and Bridgeview Police and Fire Departments on how to react to violence in the school setting, including having an active shooter in the school.
“Students practice lock down and shelter-in-place drills in response to dangerous situations in school, such as an active shooter either inside or outside of the school,” Shellberg said in her message to parents.

St. Germaine School Principal Kevin Reedy said that parochial schools follow the same procedures and regulations set forth by the Illinois State Board of Education. This includes holding a minimum of three fire drills (St. Germaine conducts about eight), and two tornado and lockdown drills during the school year, in compliance with the Illinois School Safety Drill Act.
A lockdown drill means that students and teachers “shelter in place” and get as far away from the door as possible. According to news reports, Sandy Hook teachers moved students away from classroom doors that locked from the inside, and barricaded doors with bookshelves from the shooter.
“We have an entry system at the front door and a camera that let’s us know whose out there,” Reedy said. “No one can enter without us buzzing them in. All the other doors are locked from the inside. We do all of the standard things.”
Reedy said that the Sandy Hook tragedy invited school officials to see what could be improved in their building security and where schools may have grown lax.
The St. Germaine principal said the school would be reviewing with students its policy of never letting anyone into the school building, even if they know them.
 “I don’t care if a teacher doesn’t have her key," Reedy said. "She has to walk around the building to the office and be let back in. We’re going to review that and be more vigilant about telling kids not to open the door for anyone.”

Read Newtown, CT Patch's complete coverage of the Sandy Hook School shootings.

Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 18, 2012 at 05:44 PM
It is important 2 realize in new reality of instant messaging terrible incidents will be overemphasized by media The # of mass school shootings decreased over the yrs. The chance it will happen to you is less than chance of being struck by lightning. We must be prepared, but to overemphasize & overpublicize produces unrealistic hysteria. Our country can reduce such incidents by teaching that mental illness is not a person's fault, by making access 2 mental health care as easy & normal as getting treatment for ear infection. We must take stigma out of mental illness & not treat all mentally ill like they are 2nd class citizens, are dangerous & should be ignored, lose their rights & be locked away. We must train all children in school about normal child development, signs of mental illness, how to get help for someone, when 2 report to authorities or adults signs of serious mental health illness & reform the courts so that corruption is removed from them & those with mental illness are treated humanely & get treatment and cures instead of using prisons as our mental health treatment warehouses. We should pass a law nationwide that names of mass murderers may not be released so there is no incentive to obtain notariety. Only the names of the victims should be released. The media should stop covering this so heavily & we should remember that more kids are killed daily in major cities & in civil wars like kids in Palestine (>700 teens killed by Israeli soldiers over the yrs).
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 18, 2012 at 05:50 PM
We can start by pledging to make a statement about how we disapprove of the way courts in cook county handle the mentally ill, drug abusers, and a lot of other things. Pledge to vote NO on all judges on the judicial retention ballots in every future election until bad judges start to be thrown off the bench and disciplined by the inneffective judicial inquiry board. I researched and found even though every election cycle numerous judges are listed as not qualified by bar associations they still are retained because our citizens fail to vote in the judicial retention ballots. Judges and lawyers are coerced to vote for their friends. The judge are retained by between 500 and 2500 votes. So if we spread the word to friends and relatives to vote no on all judges on alll retention ballots, eventially a whole lot of judges will be thrown off the bench at once causing a crisis in the C[r]ook County courts and the IL Supreme Court will have to suddenly replacing them with new appointments. We will then get national publicity and we will have a needed debate about how judges should be placed on the bench. Scrap the election of judges and find a way they can be appointed by a group of citizens and learned law professionals and clergy that are NOT appointed by politicians but selected by the people or by rotation among law school deans and church leaders.
Jennifer Burns December 18, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I do not think this is being over publicized. For something like this to happen once is too much! Regardless of other violence that happens throughout the world, THIS type of violence needs to be resolved. We, as a country, need to find a way to stop this from happening. And yes, mental health services should be made more available and without a stigma attached to them, but the truth is we do not even have all of the information about this young man's medical background, these are all just speculations. Unfortunately sometimes people kill to kill, without any prior indication of there being something wrong :(
CAJ December 18, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Quote - It is important 2 realize in new reality of instant messaging terrible incidents will be overemphasized by media The # of mass school shootings decreased over the yrs. The chance it will happen to you is less than chance of being struck by lightning - end quote. Overemphasized? Well, that's easy to say when it's not your child who's lying in a pool of blood, doctor. You claim that the number of school shooting has decreased in recent years. So you're suggesting that when a shooting does occur, it should be dismissed as a freak occurence and unimportant? Quote - The media should stop covering this so heavily & we should remember that more kids are killed daily in major cities & in civil wars like kids in Palestine (>700 teens killed by Israeli soldiers over the yrs) - end quote. Again, it appears that you're dismissing these deaths in Sandy Hook as unimportant in the big scheme of things. Finally, and even more frightening, is that in both your posts you don't offer one word of sympathy for the victims or families of Friday's outrage.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 18, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I worked in inner city ERs and treated babies and kids who were burned, boiled and shot with wounds to the head, etc. I smelled the burned brains from the gunpowder. I held hands as they died and informed grieving parents. So don't say I don't know what I am talking about. I was a pediatrician and I was a medical director of a mental health group. Copy cats will proliferate with the more the media coverage and children elsewhere are terrorized seeing this on the news like I was terrorized seeing executions of people on national TV during the Vietnam war. We nyst stop this excessive days long publicity. Why aren't we covering the slaughter in the inner city and on the streets of Gaza? We need a national discussion about the media and violence, mental health and violence, and access to high powered, high magazine weapons. Other countries in the civilized world have far less such deaths. Of the 22 kids in a Chinese school slashed by a knife attacker - NONE DIED! Think about that!
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 18, 2012 at 08:40 PM
The families in Connecticut don't live in the Oak Lawn Patch area so there is no need to offer sympathy to them here. They are getting plenty of sympathy. They need the country to memorialize their children's life with action, discussion, and coming together for solutions not excess media for ratings, ranting that if everyone was armed this stuff wouldn't happen (these incidents are over in minutes, before a WELL-TRAINED swat type officer could stop it. A citizen with minimum training with a firearm would be more likely to cause further injury to innocents than in taking down a well armed with high powered rifle and body armor protected crazy person.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 18, 2012 at 08:42 PM
In this kind of chaos, only a well-trained person with a high powered and accurate weapon, who had been trained to use it under fire and under stress would be able to take down such a crazed killer. An average citizen with a handgun wouldn't have a snowballs chance in hell of stopping him. It is best to train the staff at schools in secludiing the kids and barricade procedures until trained help arrives and there should be a panic button in several locations that would instantly alert the police. The brave person who turned on the intercom in the school building saved more people than anyone with a handgun could have hoped to save.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 18, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Almost every one of the recent mass murderers had shown signs of mental illness of the kind that indicates they could do harm to others and they didn't get help or their families didn't get the help they needed due to our inadequate mental health care system and the ostracizing of those with mental illness who are igored and isolated and not given the help they need. Mothers and fathers are left to try to deal with their family members without the tools they need or the supports they need.
Jennifer Burns December 18, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Again the issue at hand is the school shootings not the strip of Gaza or kids beaten and burned. Stop ignoring the issue that is the topic and acting as if these children's' and adult's deaths are not as important as others. And also, like I stated before, there has been no statement declaring this young man had a mental issue, just that he had a spectrum disorder.
Jennifer Burns December 18, 2012 at 09:17 PM
And how dare you say what these families need or do not need, Have you lost a child to gun violence or sent them to school only to have them not return?? Then how can you say they do not need sympathy. I am sorry but you are coming across as a bit condescending so maybe you should step back and find a way to get your point across in a more gentle way.
Jennifer Burns December 18, 2012 at 09:20 PM
And I find it interesting that you referred the killer as a "crazy person" when you are saying you are so in tune with the plight of those who suffer with mental illness.
Hank Scorpio December 18, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Hey Doc, don't you lose your medical license if your convicted of a felony? What was it, aggravated battery of a peace officer? You sound like a real nut job.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 19, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Ms Jennifer, perhaps you should look in the mirror and stop criticizing me as a person, stop making general nasty statements about what I write and start considering what I write as a constribution to the issue of how we should think about solving the problem of mass gun deaths by deranged individuals. It is clear from what has been reported that the young man was mentally ill.
lou December 19, 2012 at 03:16 PM
we need to train teachers to carry, so if this happens again,they can saVE LIVES.IF THOSE TEACHERS WERE ARMED THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN ALOT BETTER OUTCOME
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 19, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Hank Scorpio - this article is not about me. I am a disabled person and whistle blower with evidence of corruption of judges. police, and state officials, networked with 400,000 people in the group govabuse.org around the country and have provided federal officials with evidence of corruption in IL. You can google "dr linda shelton" and find my blogs and see the evidence. Any charges I faced or am facing are fraudulent and are retaliatory for my whistle blowing. I will not discuss them here. You can see the discussions on my blogs.Off target ad hominem attacks of commentators is inappropriate and Patch should delete them.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I worry that armed teachers may do more harm than good. It is one thing to target practice. It is another thing to defend yourself under fire with adrenaline rushing in your veins and the resulting shaking and nerves that may keep you from shooting and reacting properly if you are not a trained officer or military person with experience in combat.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton December 19, 2012 at 04:52 PM
The other issue is that in Connecticut, the whole situation was over in less than 15 minutes. The lifesaver was the person that turned on the intercom in the office so the teachers could hear what was going on, hide the children in cabinets, behind shelves, etc. and the hero was Ms. Soto who told the gunman her kids were in the gym before she was shot to death and the principle and social worker who rushed the gunman and gave their lives perhaps slowing him down a few moments, giving teachers time to barricade and hunker down.
Amanda Walsh December 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM
They were all Heros I think so!!!!
Amanda Walsh December 19, 2012 at 10:20 PM
What about Kolmar school? My niece goes to that school and she is in Kindergarden did they do anything about the school shooting?


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