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No ‘gunfire’ in next high school drills

CRYSTAL LAKE – Two Crystal Lake high schools are scheduled to conduct “code red” lockdown drills Tuesday, but they will not include simulated gunfire that caused so much controversy in a similar drill last month at Cary-Grove High School.

Objections from some parents about the use of starter pistols in the Cary-Grove drill made headlines locally and led to media coverage in Chicago and the nation.

Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge are the final two District 155 high schools to participate in the drill, which was planned in the fall.

In letters to parents, both schools specifically mentioned that “simulated gunfire” will not be a part of the lockdown.

The emphasis is to inform students of the “bare essential elements of the code red lockdown,” District 155 spokesman Jeff Puma said. Puma said Cary-Grove’s choice to use simulated gunfire did not factor into the decision by Central and Prairie Ridge officials.

Crystal Lake police officers will be at both schools Tuesday for the drills. Teachers will secure classrooms, draw curtains and there will be a sweep of the buildings to ensure all students are in a secure location. The drills will last 15 to 20 minutes.

On Jan. 30, Cary-Grove High School participated in the lockdown drill. Two starter pistols were fired in hallways – each one time – to familiarize students with the sound of gunfire.

Cary-Grove was the only District 155 high school to use simulated gunfire in its drill.

“I think ultimately it’s our responsibility to make sure that all of our students are safe and can respond under pressure,” District 155 Superintendent Johnnie Thomas said after the Cary-Grove drill. “We need to make sure they have the ability to respond in an appropriate manner. I think this goes a long way in doing that.”

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