Working to keep Alisal safe

Teachers and staff from Moffat County School doing A.L.I.C.E protocol defending a classroom from a threat


Starting with the Columbine massacre in 1999, school shootings have changed school safety procedures. The tipping point for this problem was last year with the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Both parents and student demanded school districts to make schools safe.

Alisal is taking the initiative to improve the safety at our school. According to assistant principal Rito Contreras, the faculty has been trained to react in case an intruder comes in on campus. They have been trained to follow the A.L.I.C.E protocol, which stand for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (when safe), to keep students safe in case of an emergency.  

The A.L.I.C.E protocol  has two part to it, the first part is where all teachers are required to attend and watch videos of scenarios for each component of A.L.I.C.E. They are shown different scenarios to act upon a similar situation.

The second part is organizing a live training. Teachers, administrators, and staff create a real life setting where an intruder comes in on campus. This is where all the training they have learned comes to action. Administrators observe faculty’s reactions and reflexes on how to deal with the situation. This live training has been done for the past two years under Contreras’ supervision. Contreras said a large portion of faculty have been involved in this live training, with the goal being 100% of the faculty having gone through the training.

One of the many teachers involved in the live training was math teacher Ramiro Mata. Last year he participated in the live training held at school. He said the live training is intense because you feel like it’s a real life situation. During that moment Mata mentions “I felt all the adrenaline rushing through my system… when we did the training I felt my heart pump much faster.” He decided to do this training because you have be ready for anything. He says “ after going through this training I get an insight where action has to be taken care of and I know what has to be done.” Mata believes we can never really be prepare for this kinds of situations, but we sure can learn from training to have an insight on what to follow.

Another improvement was upgrading their radio communication system. Contreras said that  there are 70 faculty members who have a radio in hand, to be the eyes and ear for all parts of school.

Eduardo Garcia, a custodian at Alisal High School, said that in the past few years, school safety measures have become extremely important. He feels with the help of Principal Garcia and assistant principal Rito Contreras, they keep everything on top and are always aware of situations. He adds that all custodians are ready for any circumstance that leads to a lockdown.

Another way the school is trying to keep students safe after school is by providing a late bus. The school is making sure no student walks late home after tutorials. The last bus leaves at 4:25pm, with drop-offs at Laurel Heights, Sanborn, Garner, and Hebron Heights.

Finally, there is a safety committee at school that involves some faculty members, Contreras and two to three students. The safety committee will meet at least once every quarter, to discuss safety and events coming up that need to be secured. Faculty want to hear students opinions on how they can improve school safety. Contreras said, “Students are in the best learning environment in all of Salinas, thanks to all the teachers and students that take action to not be surrounded by negativity.”