Dear HPCS Parent,
Last night I began contemplating an email to send to all our parents asking for prayer for Townville Elementary School and those affected by the shooting there yesterday as well as to remind you of the plans and processes we have in place should, God forbid, we ever face a similar threat. Little did I realize that a threat would come to our campus the very next day!
At 9:48 am this morning the office received a call from law enforcement that an armed suspect was in the area and that we needed to secure our campus. A few moments later, several marked and unmarked law enforcement personnel began to take up positions on campus to establish a perimeter around the woods between our campus and the Pepsi plant next door. Other officers positioned themselves around our buildings to guard entrances and to network with school administration.
Immediately upon receiving these instructions, we implemented our “lockdown” procedure, which involves quickly moving all students indoors, accounting for each student, and securing all internal doors (external doors are already locked and secure). Shortly after making this call, a liaison from the sheriff’s office provided more detail on the suspect and his location, and we made the call to move to what we call “hold and secure.” In a hold and secure, we barricade the already-locked classroom doors, hide the students, turn off lights, block windows, and keep completely silent–the entire campus becomes a ghost town. We took this step because, even though the suspect had not targeted the school (he had attempted to rob a bank in the area), he was armed and might resist arrest. The hold and secure order came around two minutes after the call for lockdown and before we could get a text out to our parents. We were further delayed in getting a text to you because all personnel immediately hid in designated secure locations and were keeping silent. Once I received the OK from our sheriff’s liaison to go to the office and send an alert, we promptly did so at 10:06 am and continued to send alerts as we had further information. We were also able at that time to begin fielding phone calls that were coming in to the office.
Shortly before 11:30 am the suspect was apprehended near our warehouse on campus without incident, and once we received the all clear from law enforcement, we lifted the hold and secure and sent a final Parent Alert to that affect. With the exception of a delayed lunch and 4th hour class, we resumed our normal schedule at that time.
I want to particularly say thank you to our kindergarten parents, who were directed to our 2nd staging area–Herdklotz Park (our first staging area–the Church at Cherrydale–was too close to where the suspect was hiding)–while the campus was closed. I know it was particularly stressful for you not to be able to pick up your children at the normal time.
Law enforcement personnel were immensely helpful throughout the morning, keeping us apprised of efforts to apprehend the suspect and helping us in facilitating updates and bathroom breaks for the students and faculty–they made us feel very secure. And our security personnel, students, faculty, and staff responded very quickly and orderly, by the way–they did an incredible job! In fact, several officers commented that this was the best they’d ever seen a school handle a situation like this–so we’re very grateful for how our frequent training paid off in this situation.
Finally, I’d like to thank you parents for your patience and prayers today. Townville reminded us again to be thankful for God’s grace to our school through the years and of the need to do our part to be vigilant in protecting the most precious asset He’s given us–our children. Today further reinforced those lessons.
Please take some time this evening to just enjoy your children and to reassure them of God’s love and protection. May this frightening event today serve to grow parents and children closer to one another and to our heavenly Father as well.
On a practical note, I want to remind you of the new ParentAlert system we put in place earlier this year. We’ve sent instructions to you at various times about how to enroll in that system, but several parents have still not done so. Today reminded us in no uncertain terms of the benefits of such a system. If you did not receive the texts we sent this morning from “Parent_Alert,” then let me implore you to go right now to RenWeb at https://www.renweb.com/ and log in to ParentsWeb (contact the office if you need help setting up a RenWeb account), click “Web Forms” on the left, select “Information Update 2016,” and at the bottom of the page select “Parent Alert Information” for EACH parent. On that form please provide the information requested, choose which communication methods you prefer, and finally BE SURE TO SELECT “NO” at the very bottom. This seems counterintuitive, I know, but you need to select “No” if you want to be signed up for alerts. And finally be sure to click “Save” to complete the form. Thanks so much for following up on this!
Again, thank you for your prayers and patience today and for entrusting your children to our care! God is good,