Second Block Drills in Need of Improvement


Second block begins and groggy students take their seats. Minutes later the last few stragglers from Ben Barber walk in. Finally the class settles and the teacher begins. Just when the lesson is underway and has students’ full attention, alarms blare and immediately everything comes to a halt. Twenty minutes of class taken away, for a drill that only vaguely mimics a real event. The drills should be made more random and more realistic.

Fire drills, tornado drills and shelter-in-place drills are all required throughout the year. They all make sense for a school with so many crowded classes in a region at the edge of tornado alley. And of course  protecting ourselves against crazy people who want to invade the school. Unfortunately the drills rarely inspire true urgency. Students walk orderly out of the school for the fire drill and chat calmly and laugh during shelter-in-place. In a real fire or a real invasion, the situation would be chaotic, nervous and frightening. Instead of announcing the drills beforehand, administrators should make the drills mimic a real disaster as closely as possible and only reveal it’s a drill at its conclusion.

Only holding the drills during second and sixth block, or any predetermined time, also poses a problem. Although it makes scheduling easier, it lessens the effect of the drill even more by making them predictable. Additionally, having all the drills during the same classes maximizes the time taken out of them. It also only prepares students for two evacuation routes, when in reality a disaster could happen at any time, during any class. Double-blocked classes only learn one route all year, and students are never prepared for an evacuation of the cafeteria. Randomizing the placement of the drills and spreading them out over different class periods would make them more effective, less predictable and less intrusive on second block class time.

Administrators already have a slew of mandatory events to schedule throughout the year, and complicating the emergency drill program only makes their job harder. Even though it would be more difficult, student safety is their number one concern. Administrators should make changes to the emergency drills to make them more realistic and more effective.