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The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

ALICE Drills: Are They Necessary?

ALICE Drills: Are They Necessary?

After skipping last year’s typically annual ALICE drill, it was decided that this year there would be one and it took place on Friday November 3, 2023. Several morning announcements were made and there was an email sent out to all students and their families by Mrs. Nemeth prior to it taking place. But what does ALICE stand for and does it actually work?

What Does ALICE Stand For? 

ALICE is an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, and is a drill meant to prepare students and staff for a hypothetical active shooter situation. According to Everytown.org, these drills are carried out in approximately 95% of school districts across the nation, in varying degrees of intensity. Most of these districts like Ludlow have a police officer usually roaming the halls, maybe with a horn, as someone announces over the intercom to inform everyone where the shooter is. So that teachers and students can make the most informed possible decisions based on their current location. However, there are some schools that take it to the extreme, performing unannounced drills, using actors to play dead, or using blank rounds to simulate the noise of gunfire. Yet there is much debate as to whether active shooter situation drills are an effective preparation method or not.  

What Does It Actually Prepare You For? 

There is no research to show that active shooter drills have any value to help protect the school communities in the event of a shooting. However there is plenty of research to show that these drills have negative impacts on mental health of both students and teachers. According to a study conducted by Moore et al, 60.2% of 815 youth polled reported feeling “unsafe, scared, helpless, or sad as a result of experiencing the drills”. In another study by George Tech, stress and anxiety levels are highest in high school communities 90 days following these types of drills. 

Many parents, teachers, and especially advocates say these drills are a necessary evil, but what do they actually prepare you for? After all if a shooting were to occur it would most likely be done by someone familiar to the layout of the building, which has been the case for many of the most notable and most deadly school shootings such as Columbine, Parkland, and the fairly recent Oxford High School shooting. These drills also do not address many possible scenarios that have played out before, like what if there were multiple shooters, or what if they had explosives on them? 

An argument can be made that these drills bring some awareness and force you to pay more attention to your surroundings, which I agree with. But with endless scenarios, what can it actually prepare you for besides running or hiding? It’s not like fire that could only really happen in the kitchen or a lab. There also never seems to be a comforting message given afterward, which likely contributes to the anxiety and stress of it. These drills can also give the false sense of reality that the odds of a shooting occuring is very high, when in reality they are exceptionally low.

What Happened For Me During The ALICE Drill

Prior to the day students were only told the drill would be happening periods 1, 2, or 3. Leading up to and especially the morning of Friday, November 3rd, there was general consensus, among everyone that I talked to, that it would happen during period 2. This is because if you attempted to make a library pass on the school’s website that day, you would notice it said the library was closed during period 2. After Period 1 had passed as normal, I left my AP government class in the B-wing to go take my test in AP Statistics located at the end of the E-wing. 

I sat down, the bell rang, and Mr. Pires had told us to clear off our desks. However before anyone could really get started, the sound of Mrs. Nemeth’s voice boomed over the intercom informing us that this was just a drill, and that a “shooter” had entered the B-wing. Mr Pires walked over to turn off the lights, everyone got up, and he told us to hide in the corner of the room furthest from the door. 

After what felt like a few minutes of waiting, Mrs. Nemeth announced that the “shooter” was now on the second floor, and since the room we were in was on the first, it was the ideal time to make an exit. Mr. Pires, leading the way, exited the room followed by everyone else and finally me. We ran down to the end of the E-wing, and turned left down the F-wing running past the cafeteria, and left through the side door just behind the kitchen of the cafeteria leading into the senior parking lot. We then continued until we reached the entrance to the baseball field. Then after a few minutes of waiting we returned back into the school and classes continued as normal. 

What Is The Take Away 

I can see why the district feels the need to do these drills at least once a year, given the many recent school shootings, yet there is no real way to prepare for this scenario, as you will most likely not know where they could be coming from, and there will be no one over the intercom to announce where the shooter is, in the extremely unlikely event if it were to occur. These drills ultimately add more stress for students and staff and do not seem to benefit school communities to the degree that would make them worth performing in the first place. 

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About the Contributor
Jacob Moquin, Opinion Editor
Jacob Moquin is a part of the Class of 2024 at Ludlow High School. This is his first year as a writer for the Cub. He is also a part of Leading Lions and LHS cares, and was the former Vice President of the French Club. Outside of school and sleeping he enjoys partaking in painting and looking through his telescope on a clear night. After graduating, Jacob plans on pursuing a doctorate in veterinary medicine and aspires to have a practice of his own. However for the time being he plans on sharing his many opinions for readers to enjoy.

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