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Commentary: Safe at San Marcos High

The unfortunate lockdown reaffirms the safety and care our children receive at school

Now that we have had time to reflect on the recent lockdown at San Marcos High School, we would like to take this opportunity to thank law enforcement, the Santa Barbara School District, as well as the San Marcos High administration, faculty and staff for the immediate and effective job they did in assuring the safety of our school community.

Incidents can happen at any school or public place, and it turned out that the item which triggered the safety response, was not an instrument of harm, but rather, a harmless water bottle — an unfortunate mistake. While some might view this as a six-hour exercise in futility, we view it as confirmation of what we know to be true — our children are safe and well taken care of at San Marcos High School, just as they are at the other high schools in our community.

We are so gratified by the response of the San Marcos students, teachers and administration. They have carried out drills to prepare them in the event of any emergency, and this time, when it was real, that training paid off. Everyone adhered to protocol, stayed calm, and followed the directions from law enforcement. Our children learned more than just the drill. They practiced patience, empathy and camaraderie as they spent many hours in various settings on campus. If you speak to students, they will tell you that they felt safe, as they always do at San Marcos. And as parents, we had confidence that our children were secure and protected as well.

While it was frustrating as a parent to not know exactly what was going on, we all agree that the law-enforcement decision to lock down the school and err on the side of safety and caution is a choice that we would make again in a heartbeat. Would we have preferred that all of our children had access to restroom facilities? Certainly. Would we have chosen to have more communication while the procedure was under way? Absolutely. But we know that law enforcement made the right call in this situation and we salute them for their discipline and prudence.

What we believe to be more representative of our strong school community is what occurred after the Oct. 1 lockdown. Our students returned to school, ready to learn under the guidance of our top-notch faculty and staff. Norm Clevenger, our principal, addressed the student body and praised everyone’s cooperation and positive attitude. We had a rousing Homecoming rally and football game, followed by a very well-attended Homecoming dance, all of which occurred without incident. We are so proud of our school. San Marcos will continue our long history of providing each and every student with an academically challenging and meaningful education in a safe and supportive environment that understands and respects diversity and balances individual and civic responsibilities. We all want our children to have the opportunity to be the very best they can be. San Marcos High School puts them firmly and safely on that path!

— Jamie Lisea, Judi Koper and Katina Etsell are members of the San Marcos High School Parent Advisory Group. Liz Mozingo is president of the San Marcos High School PTSA.

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