On November 9, the “Run, Hide, Defend” alarm went off between brunch and fourth period. Students rushed into the nearest classrooms and began locking doors, shutting windows and stacking desks and tables into barricades.
This time, the drill was different—instead of having it during a class, when students are already inside their classrooms, the drill was during a passing period. This meant that many students were outside and had to rush into the nearest classroom for the drill. According to Assistant Principal Michael Martinez, the time change was put into place so that the drill would happen at the time when students are most vulnerable.
“We try to plan and prepare and we do drills during times when we think an active shooter might come on campus,” Martinez said. “If you noticed […] this last drill was at a different time than we have ever did the ‘Run, Hide, Defend’ drill before.”
The “Run, Hide, Defend” motto replaced the term “Code Red” as the name of the drill is used to help educate students about the options that they have in this situation: run, hide or defend yourself. This was implemented by the San Jose Police Dept after an incident involving an active shooter at Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant in 2011, just two miles away from MVHS .
“We give you those options [Run, Hide, Defend]. Depending upon where the active shooter is on campus, you are running through those options: [Run, Hide, Defend],” Martinez said. “If you are back by the fields for P.E. for example, and you hear shots that are coming from the front of the campus, you are going to run off campus. You aren’t going to run back [towards]campus and barricade yourself.”
Students face more risk if there is an emergency during brunch or lunch, when majority of students are outside school buildings and in the open, making them easier targets for an active shooter. However, it is hard for MVHS to schedule an emergency drill during these times because teachers are not contractually required to work at brunch and lunch.
“When we tried to plan the drills this year, we tried to plan during a time, like brunch, when there were students out in common areas,” Martinez said. “But we [could not have the drill at these times because we]got some pushback from the teachers.”
Freshman Viveka Ramanathan agrees with the idea that “Run, Hide, Defend” drills are more effective when students are out of the classroom.
“I honestly think [it is]more beneficial to do it during brunch because people have to think fast and run and decide what they want to do,” Ramanathan said. “If you are already in a classroom, then you are already sheltered and the teachers do [most of]the hard work, [but]if you [have the drill]during brunch then you have to think for yourself.”
While she does think having the “Run, Hide, Defend” drill at brunch was valuable, Ramanathan also believes that the drill would have been more effective if students had taken it more seriously.
“We took it as a drill,” Ramanathan said. “We didn’t think that something like this [could]actually happen so we kind of fooled around and talked.”
Senior Neha Jagathesan agrees with Ramanathan. Although she did not specify how Jagathesan thinks that the way to solve this issue would be to educate students more thoroughly about what to do.
“I think we all know what to do, it’s just [a matter of whether you]know what to do in that specific situation,” Jagathesan said. “[I] don’t think having more [“Run, Hide, Defend”] drills will help us [as much as]educating us.”
Ultimately, Martinez believes that the students’ opinions should be taken into account when determining the details about when and how often the drill should be held and whether that should be during classes or at brunch and lunch.
“We plan all these drills and we do all these things but if students felt that there was more value in doing them during brunch and lunch it would be important to hear that,” Martinez said. “We are here to support students. We’re not doing the drills for us, we’re doing them to keep [the students]you guys safe.”
Additional reporting by Jai Uparkar