By Alexandra Smith
FOREST HILLS, Pa. – Trinity Christian School, a local private school in the Pittsburgh area that includes kindergarten through twelfth grade, has recently increased its security measures and procedures due to parental concerns.
Previously, the school did not lock the front entrance door, and visitors were not required to wear a visitor’s badge while inside the building.
Though the school has never had any security issues in the past, the staff and students are now adjusting to several new security updates and procedures.
Barb Bowman, secretary of Trinity Christian School, said that every door in the building is now locked during school hours. “We had a magnetic lock and security system installed at the end of February 2013,” she said. “In order to be admitted into the building, everyone must be buzzed into the building. Once the person hits the buzzer, they must state who they are and the reason for needing to be buzzed in.”
Bowman’s role within the new security change is to make sure that “we only buzz in people we know or people that have a scheduled appointment.” She said she is also in charge of making sure that substitute teachers wear a badge stating that they are substitute teachers.
Headmaster Dale McLane said that “all teachers wear photo identification badges at all times.”
“There is also a security camera on the student parking lot, and we practice lockdown procedures on a regular basis,” he added.
Bowman said that some staff members, students, and parents have had to adjust their schedules slightly to accommodate the changes in security procedures. “I come in at 7 a.m. to handle the students who need to be buzzed in at 7:15 a.m., and we have a teacher stationed at the front door from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to let the students in as the buses drop them off,” Bowman said.
Melissa Braun, ninth grade student, said that she has hardly been impacted by the increase in security. “We have to be buzzed in the morning, and you can’t take a short cut to lunch anymore because that involved walking outside and we’d be locked out,” she said.
A donation was made to cover the cost of the new security system, according to McLane.
According to Bowman, the reason for the security increase was because “more and more frequently we have had parents inquire about the installation of a security system.”
“The security camera was installed a few years ago, so the next step was to make sure there is only one way to enter the building,” she added.
Ninth grader Elise Molinaro said that she believes the reason for the security increase is “the widespread outbreak of gunmen amongst other schools across the nation.”
“The security that we have recently acquired has also been standard of other schools in the Pittsburgh area,” she added.
Braun said that she believes the addition of a security system was a good idea. “I feel more secure knowing that random strangers can’t come in easily anymore,” she said. “I think the shooting in Connecticut helped the school realize that we had little protection compared to other schools.”
Carol Lowe, high school Bible teacher at Trinity Christian School, said that most people affected by the new security system have reacted well. “Other than getting used to the procedure the first few days, I haven’t heard any comments favorably or unfavorably,” she said.
“It doesn’t really affect our day any differently. Though I haven’t heard reports from parents, I’m sure they are not opposed to any inconvenience it might be causing them,” Lowe added.
As for any future additions to Trinity Christian School’s security system, McLane said that there are already ideas in the works. “As funds allow, we will be installing more security cameras, especially at other doors and in hallways,” he said.