In national surveys, parents often refer to a small handful of reasons why they choose to invest in Catholic education over that of public education. Small classes, rigorous academics, co-curricular programs and the presence of faith are typically shared. However, one reason seems often rises above the rest. Parents often share: “I want to know my child is safe”. In today’s society, concern over the safety of our child is paramount to all of the rest we do in schools. As parents, we could think of no more terrifying thought than harm to our children. So with this concern in mind, it should come as no surprise that parents rate campus safety as vital to their decision in selecting a private school for their child. And as the principal of St. Agnes, I see the safety of the students and staff as the most important duty I hold.
While we made some great strides last year with regard to improving our emergency preparedness plan, this year we have offered ever more attention to upgrading our campus security measures. This upgrade began in July as we added on to the four additional exterior cameras we installed last January and then added 6 interior cameras this summer which now outfit our school building with a total of 11 security cameras that serve to monitor the movements of those who enter and depart from our campus. In addition, this summer we completed a construction project which moved our school office from the center of the building to the end of the main hallway. This move placed the office immediately adjacent with a direct view of anyone who arrives to our school entrance facing Old Frederick Road. Also, we have installed a visitor management system which requires all who enter the building to provide their driver’s license/ID which is then scanned and a background check of that visitor is checked through a law enforcement database. As well, all school and parish staff who move about the building now wear a St. Agnes lanyard which includes the team member’s photo upon the identification card. I would like to thank John Davis for all of his tireless dedication from the planning and oversight of the office relocation project. John serves as the Archdiocesan Regional Facilities Manager in support of St. Agnes. We are grateful for the professional care and expertise he provides in support of our school community.
Although security upgrades are important safeguards, the more essential component to student safety is that of rehearsed and practiced emergency preparedness drills. To this point, each month throughout the year we conduct a range of drills aimed at training our children and our staff how to respond quickly and effectively during a critical incident. With this thought in mind, on October 10 we conducted our annual lockdown, evacuation and parent reunification drill. This training activity provides our entire community the opportunity to prepare our community members on how to respond to the presence of an unwanted intruder on campus, and thus, how we protect ourselves within the building. We then complete our drill with our families picking up their student at our off-campus safe staging site located at Mount de Sales Academy.
At St. Agnes, we are committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment where our students live, love and learn within the Light of Christ.