A single visitor’s entrance with locked doors and a vigilant staff guard the entrance to Huntington High School. But first you have to get past the security booth that stands between the street and parking lot.
It all sounds formidable. But in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school where 20 children and six adults were killed, schools around the region re-evaluated their security and emergency measures.
“This is the type of tragic and senseless event that easily upsets children and adults alike,” said Huntington Superintendent James Polansky, who also sent an automated message to district parents. “As such, all staff members were provided with information on strategies to help children cope and on how to reassure them in response.”
Polansky said emergency plans are reviewed annually district-wide to ensure that they are complete and that they reflect current staff and building situations. Plans are shared with the Suffolk County Police's Second Precinct and local fire department.
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"Drills are held in the buildings, followed by a reflective process, to ensure that students and staff have an understanding of their responsibilities should an emergency occur," Polansky added.
Huntington famously shut down Jack Abrams Intermediate School in July 2010, citing safety safety concerns after gang-related violence erupted nearby.
The South Huntington School District coincidentally addressed security at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting when board member Nick Ciappetta said that the district had decided against erecting a security booth near the high school parking lot.
Whitman High School was locked down Thursday after a senior was critically injured in a fall from a third-story window. It was not believed to be a criminal incident.
At nearby St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, Principal Bro. Gary Cregan met with administrators and security staff Friday and will continue to meet daily next week concerning school security and the impact the tragedy will have.
“It’s hard to even fathom why evil can reside in the human heart to such a degree,” Cregan said. “It brings one to one's knees to plumb the depths as to why someone would do this.”
Pam Robinson contributed to this report.