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Administration locks doors, educates students as security is bumped up

Security staffer Donna Sifferman welcomes students into the building before school.  Students now can only enter the building through the new and old main entrances due to new security measures.

Lauren Grimaldi

Security staffer Donna Sifferman welcomes students into the building before school. Students now can only enter the building through the new and old main entrances due to new security measures.

Lauren Grimaldi, Staff Reporter

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With the recent shootings in Newtown and the more local story of a registered sex offender entering RB during a sporting event, school security is a hot issue not only around the country but here at home.  RB’s administration and security staff are not taking the issue lightly.

“We meet with security daily; most people think the horrific actions in our country make us look at it more so, and in some cases we learn from those and learn how to tweak what we’re doing,” said Assistant Principal John Passerella.

The first step the administration is taking is to lock all of the doors during the school day and at times when school is not in session; students and community members are now asked to enter the building only through the new or old main entrances.

“We’re always evaluating what we’re doing,” Passerella said.

“The most recent [security change] is shutting down all of the doors.  For example, the door closest to the East Gym has been causing traffic accidents for a long time. The police don’t want that open,” said Passerella.

Another step the administration plans on taking is making sure that every student feels safe in the building and like they fit in among their peers.

“It’s comforting to know that we have a good relationship with our students; it’s not about locking doors because you’re locking them in,” said Passerella. “It’s about our students; each one of you are security guards.”

Passarella knows security also depends on working with students and developing a positive building climate.

“You’re getting a feel on how your classmates are feeling; like if they are feeling desperate and sad,” Passerella said. “Those are the kids you want to reach.  Really, for security, the best thing we can do is build good relationships with our students,” said Passarella.

At an assembly held in January, Principal Pam Byslma and Passarella made a point to give direct tips to students of all grade levels on how to address security issues in the building.

If a student sees something strange going on in the building, Byslma and Passarella urged them not to hesitate to dial 911 on their cell phones.  If the issue turns out to be a false alarm, Passarella believes it is better to be safe than sorry and said that students would not face disciplinary consequences for calling.

At the assembly, Byslma and Passarella also urged students to help keep an eye on their classmates and to report any bullying they see.  Passarella noted that bullying is commonly a key cause of violence in schools.

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
Administration locks doors, educates students as security is bumped up