Fence installation receives support, criticism


Catherine Gagulashvili culture editor
Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, schools across the nation have been calling attention to the security, or lack thereof, on campus. Beverly, like many other schools, has implemented stricter security. These new security measures have been met with both positive and negative responses.
The new security measures installed on campus include closing the campus by building a fence around the perimeter of the school, mandating each student and member of staff show his/her ID upon arrival and departure of the campus, and having an increased security and School Resource Officers (SROs) presence. There is a guard at each of the entrance gates, and there are posted signs on each gate with hours of operation and the purpose of the gate.
“This initiative began several years ago with the passing of the facilities bond.  The decision by the Board to move quickly to put a temporary fence now may have been influenced by recent school shootings, but certainly it is not the only reason,” Director of School Safety Chris Hertz said. “A beautiful permanent fence or wall will eventually replace the temporary fence, but only after construction of the school is completed. “Our world is changing. Airports became more secure and so too will schools.”
Reasons for more safety included the Board of Education’s concern for safety, along with administration’s encouragement to up security for a significant period of time, prior to the Parkland shooting. Administration has found the new changes to be a successful addition to our school’s security.
“The old adage, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.  I feel like last week was a complete success. BHHS administration has been working with the district and the board on this project for many months.  I personally was advocating this idea in School Site Council, ASB, and SEC. I also was speaking with leaders from the PTSA and BHEF. It is difficult to make change, and the tragedy in Parkland was the catalyst for the accelerated security improvements,” principal Mark Mead said.  “All I can only say that, when the opportunity arrived, my administrative and facilities team was ready for the transition as we’d been discussing and preparing months before these changes occurred.”
Teachers have been generally supportive of the new measures, stating that the safety and security of students and staff take precedence over the possibility of disruption to an individual’s daily routine.
“Any changes that happen, people don’t like change, but I think it’s important to put these procedures in place to have a safer school. So whatever inconvenience may be there, I think that’s a fair trade off, a good trade off to have if we’re safer,” math teacher Dustin Mathias said.
Sixty-seven percent* of students on campus do not agree with the safety measures that have been installed. Some have found the new security to cause a disturbance to the day.
“There has been even more traffic in the morning because parents can’t drop their kids inside the school. Now we have to wait in line to get in school through the only entrance. There are people holding up the line because they can’t find their ID card or something. All of this has tripled the time it takes me to get to school,” junior Abigail Tesfaia said.
Mead has recognized that some people still want to drop-off students on campus or in front of the science building, but that is no longer possible. The front lawn area is where students should be dropped off in the mornings.
Junior Isaiah Berke preferred the security the school had prior to the current security installations.
“[I preferred the old system.] There was still security, there was still people monitoring us, but I think that the only thing that’s changed is how safe we perceive our school to be, not actually how it is,” Berke said. “I don’t like the fence, I think it’s cumbersome. It just makes life more difficult for everyone. I think it creates the illusion of safety, which is very comforting to parents and the community, but I don’t think it actually makes us safer.”
Other students have found faults in the current system, stating that these security measures won’t protect us from someone who is determined to enter the campus.
The fences and student identification measures are unnecessary. Fences will not prevent school shooters or other criminals from entering campus. As for student identification, which can [also] be done through showing one’s Jupiter Grades. Jupiter accounts can be faked. And also, if a student wants to cause trouble on campus, forcing them to show their school ID will not stop them,” sophomore Matthew Park said. “The ideal security situation for Beverly would be the old system, since our current system does nothing to prevent crime of any kind.”
Overall, the new security measures are viewed as a necessary addition to the campus and a fundamental form of securing everyone’s safety. Regardless of whether or not the extra security is convenient for those on our campus, it is something that will continue to expand to ensure safety.
“There is a lot of pressure for the district to do more to keep us safe, but the fact of the matter is that parents need to have serious conversations with their kids about being responsible students. It is extremely important for parents to guide their kids to be responsible for themselves,” senior Priscilla Hopper said. “The administration is extremely concerned with our lives and safety, so they did their best and most to ensure that. However, we can’t keep begging for our safety then complain when administration helps.”
*107 students were surveyed
**This article was updated on April 4, 2018, to include comments from Mr. Mead.