PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - This weekend, the nation remembers one of the worst high school shooting in U.S. history.
Sunday, April 20th will mark 20 years since Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Colorado. They killed 13 people and wounding more than 20 others during the rampage.The massacre prompted a national debate on gun control and school safety.
Northview Schools, in Plainfield Township, is among many local districts that's have made safety a top priority post-Columbine. They include security enhancements that are designed not to be noticed, yet remain effective. Visibility has been improved with the addition of shorter lockers, longer sight lines, and security cameras that certain staff can access with an iPad.
Former superintendent, Mike Paskewicz, helped spearhead the security and design changes.
"Buildings are designed or renovated to minimize safety risks created by active shooters. The low lockers, wings that can be locked from a remote site, instant connection to law enforcement officials, security cameras. All of these designs are based upon what we learned from the Columbine shooting 20 years ago and what we learned from all of the school shootings that have happened since then," he says.
Paskewicz was the superintendent of Adams 12 Five Star Schools, about 30 miles away from Columbine High, in the years following the school shooting spree. He says school design is an important component with safe and secure schools. But, says so is focusing on mental health
"Northview has built a very strong partnership with mental health providers in the community to provide professional help for students and their families," says Paskewicz. "Schools should have staff that build relationships with students and their families. Teachers, support staff, principals, counselors, social workers should know their students and family members well. This intimacy builds competence regarding issues that our kids face on a daily basis. Family members are encouraged to know their children and report troubling issues."
He says Columbine taught him the ultimate goal is to prevent tragedy before it strikes.
"Violent acts can and do occur anywhere. Building relationships between staff, students and their families does not insure that a violent act will not happen," says Paskewicz. "We must all take responsibility for building strong relationships.
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