The flag at Cassopolis Ross Beatty High School was at half staff in memory of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

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Area Schools review safety plans

Published 1:41pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

Area schools are reviewing their security plans in the wake of the tragic shooting of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday.

For Cassopolis, the review took a lot less time as the district already has a security plan in place, including a buzzer system and cameras for entry into the buildings.

Cassopolis Supt. Tracy Hertsel said he feels his district is ahead of the curve when it comes to securing its builds.

“We are ahead of a lot of schools and it has certainly paid dividends right now,” he said. “Thank goodness, I have not had to deal with phone calls like I have heard other districts have received. We have tried to stay on top of this and it is paying off.”

At each of the school buildings, visitors can only enter through the main entrance. Each entrance has a buzzer in place as well as a camera so that school officials can see who is trying to enter their facility.

Hertsel says Cassopolis works with Thomas Mynsberge of Saginaw, who is an emergency management person.

Edwardsburg was like so many other schools which reacted to the news quickly to make sure it was ready for any emergencies and that its students were safe.

“We have a security plan in place,” Edwardsburg Supt. Sherman Ostrander said. “Those are reviewed annually. Immediately upon the news of Newtown we gathered as an administration to review the plan and to make sure each building was secure.

“We also asked each building administrator if there were any additional measures we needed to take. We will meet again right after the break with our emergency preparation person with the county.”

Ostrander said that Edwardsburg is not unlike Newtown in that it is a small community that feels like it’s a safe place to go to school each day.

But to make sure everyone felt safe there was a very visable presence at each school building.

“We went through the process of making sure all doors were secured and that the administation was visiable when school let out Friday,” Ostrander said. “We also have had a police presence that is very visible. They have been super cooperative.”

Although he has received a number of emails asking questions about the security of the facilities, Ostrander is not aware of anyone who kept their children home Monday.

“They felt safe before this and I hope they will feel safe that their teachers will do whatever it takes to protect them,” Ostander said.

Six adults and 20 boys and girls ages 6 and 7 were slaughtered in Connecticut.

“Surely, we can do better than this,” President Barack Obama said Sunday night. “We have an obligation to try.”

Obama read the names of the adults early in his remarks. He finished by reading the first names of the kids, haltingly, making for a wrenching moment.

Adam Lanza, 20, carried out the rampage before taking his own life. He also shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, to death in the nearby home they shared before storming the school.

Speaking at the fourth such memorial service in as many years of his administration, Obama declared he will use “whatever power” his office has to prevent shootings such as the Connecticut school massacre.

“What choice do we have?” Obama said at the vigil in the shattered community. “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

He didn’t say how he would take on the explosive gun control issue, but made clear the deaths compelled a nation failing to keep its children safe to act.

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