Written by Ronald Batista and Jennica Ruan
In the Malden High School Gallery, on March 1, in light of recent events in Parkland, Florida, a gun violence safety forum was held for the MHS Community. The Parkland Florida shooting has sparked many conversations over the past few weeks. Students have taken control of the situation with protests and petitions to enforce gun laws.
The main reason for this forum was an effort to try to raise awareness around the importance of trying to prevent gun violence and also to make sure that our students know that the school cares and that they want all of the students to feel comfortable with talking to any of the staff members.
Speaking at the panel was Mayor Gary Christenson, Superintendent John Oteri, MHS Principal Chris Mastrangelo, Peter Dolan, and Congresswoman Katherine Clark.
Congresswoman Katherine Clark wanted to take the action of addressing the situation. Clark reached out to Cathy MacMullin from the Malden Teen Enrichment Center to discuss the recent incident, but found it more convenient to do it at Malden High. Since principal Mastrangelo was holding a forum on the same day, it was more convenient to have one event instead.
Many of the faculty had stopped him in the hallway because the students were having conversations in the classes about the shooting and they felt like the students were concerned and afraid about the safety of the school. Mastrangelo decided that the best way to address what happened, was to have an open forum. To sit and discuss the issues would help ensure that the students knew how safe the school really is.
Mayor Christenson “thought it was important to react to what happened in Parkland and what better way to do that than by talking about what happened and what better place than Malden High School.”
During the event, many problems were asked about to the panel by the audience including teachers and students who attended like Julie Briggs, a gym teacher at Malden High, and Senior Keven Souza. Problems revolving the school and scenarios were brought to attention and how the school can improve the safety protocol. Briggs was concerned about the safety of the first floor and wanted the problem to be a concern of the school.
Malden High School along with all of the other schools in the city are equipped with a lot of safety measures, to ensure the safety of all students and faculty. Equipment such as help cameras, door jambs, card readers, which are regularly checked to make sure that all the equipment is working properly. The school also has really detailed and organized protocols over lock downs and shelter in place. There will, most likely, be another drill in the near future because by law, schools should have four drills a year, but the requirements have not been met. The city is also frequently looking for new measures that can be put in place for the safety of all of the students.
A new program called Crisis Go, that will hopefully be in place by the beginning of the new school year, is a phone app that allows pretty near instant communication between administration, support staff, parents, teachers. The point of it is for it to be useful during an incident so everyone would know what was happening as it is unfolding. Crisis Go would be another tool for schools to utilize and will also enable us to communicate with our public safety officials instantaneously. Christenson stated “We were working on all of this before all of these incidents started happening, we have been working on this for years”.
Mastrangelo said that the best way to prevent gun violence is to do what we are doing now. He stated that “[He] thinks what we are doing on March 14 is a really good start... all the students over the country coming together and saying we have it, the adults in this country haven't done anything about it so we are going to do something about it.”
Mayor Christenson explained that “our best defense is information and what the students need to do is let us know. It's always better to be safe than sorry. We do not do support arming teachers nor do most of the teachers agree with it. [He is] not sure where fighting guns with guns will get us”. He also explained that the city subscribes to the ALICE theory. ALICE is an acronym used in the case of a lockdown, ALICE describes what steps should be taken in the case of an emergency, the acronym stands for; Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.
There is a lot of information that could have been taken home from this event. Mastrangelo said he wants people to take home “knowing that we have safety plans in place, knowing that the collective voice of hundreds and thousands of high school students across the country will make a change and the other piece is that the adults in this building are willing to sit and listen to the students and listen to their concerns and to what they are nervous about and to take steps to try to make things better. Mayor Christenson added saying “we always need to be vigilant and always keep our gard up not matter what day.” He adds on saying “The way we remain safe is by writing about it and talking about it and that is what [The Blue and Gold] does and what we did at the forum, because the ultimate method to preventing gun violence is if you see something say something”.
Congresswoman Clark believes that students have the ability to make a difference. Congresswoman Clark is doing her best to infiltrate a system in which students feel safe and that the necessary measures are taken to protect schools. This quote from Congresswoman Katherine Clark and administration expresses the situation, “From Stoneman Douglas to Malden High, our brave students are driving America’s conversation about civic leadership and ending gun violence. Right now, Congress’s number one job must be to listen to our students and take action to save lives.”