The Dispatch

The Lockdown

Akins High School students and staff reach out to tell their stories on what happened the day the campus was threatened

Cianna Chairez, News Editor

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On February 22, W. Charles Akins High School went into lockdown procedure due to a threat to their campus. The lockdown lasted three and a half hours and was caused by a former student getting onto an AISD bus and making threats towards the school.

When the bus arrived at  the campus, the former student continued to make threats and showed many students what appeared to be ammunition. Almost immediately, a student went to report him to the administrative team at Akins High School and the school was put under lockdown.

All of the students and staff at the campus remained safe and uninjured.

These are the perspectives of one student and one teacher that were on campus the day of the incident.

Pictured is Bee Barto of Akins journalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Bee Barto is a student at Akins High School and is the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, The Eagles Eye. She was on campus the day that Akins was threatened and put under lockdown. When it first began, a reverse evacuation was called.

“It wasn’t like a complete lockdown, but nobody was allowed to go into the halls or leave their classroom at all,” Barto said. “Then a bit later they changed it to an actual lockdown and everybody was like ‘whoa is this a real thing?’ And everybody was super scared. For a while we didn’t really know anything and the most information we got was from each other.”

During the hours within the campus  while the staff and students were under lockdown, no one was sure of what was going on.  This lack of knowledge bred many rumors.

“There were so many different things. I mean, first it was like who it was,” Barto said. “There were rumors that there were several people, or two different people. Then what they were doing was like always changing. There was a bag with a bomb and there was like guns and ammo stored around. At that point we didn’t really know what the actual story was. There were even rumors that an actual shooting was already going on.”

Barto was under lockdown in the newspaper classroom for the entirety of the incident.

“For me, it was really scary, but I was in newspaper, which is like the safest room, to me, in here,” Barto said. “I was in a very safe place, but at the same time, I knew that if there was an actual threat, it was pretty freakin scary.”

Barto recognized as a student-journalist that this was an important story and began working on a story for the newspaper website to notify their community.

“It took a couple of hours for us to kick it into gear,” Barto said. “And I started writing a piece that ended up going out a couple of hours later about like just using the information that we could confirm for sure. And that’s still up on our website.”

Hours after the lockdown was initiated, Barto stayed to finish the story. Since the incident, Akins has changed, according to Barto.

“For better or worse, I mean, things are a lot more safe,” Barto said. “But at the same time, it’s just a bit frustrating to deal with. I guess it’s for the best because it’s actually more safe.”

The lockdown happened just a little over a week after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“Of course, everybody thought that it was like coincidence and oddly close together in events,” Barto said. “I was like ‘maybe the dude was inspired.’ And I don’t know entirely what was going on in his head, and luckily we didn’t find out the fullest extent of what he wanted to do. But, of course, we can assume. I can imagine that it was those events that set something of.”

According to the principal of Akins High School, Brandi Hosack, and AISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz, the student who posed the threat was arrested on a third-degree felony and was bonded out of jail.

“Everything’s kind of changed since then,” Barto said. “It can happen anywhere. Not that anything did happen, but it could’ve, and it almost did.”

Pictures is teacher Sarah Simmons
of Akins College &
Career Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Simmons works at the College and Career Center at Akins High School. She was in her room when the lockdown occurred. In the beginning, no one was completely sure of what was going on.

“I think, like most people, I’ve been conditioned that this is a drill,” Simmons said. “This is a normal thing and I think just because it was so close to the incident that had happened in Florida, that everyone’s nerves were already a little raw because it had been in the news so. So we were all just trying to figure out if it was actually a drill or not.”

In AISD, the standard lockdown procedure includes locking the exterior door, covering the door and windows, turning off all of the lights and sitting quietly while waiting for official statements.

“So we turned all the lights out, turned off the radio, silenced everyone’s’ phones,” Simmons said. “And then, you know, lined up against the walls. Of course everyone was on their phones, trying to figure out what was going on. And we would receive updates from our principal via email and it mostly was just a lot of trying to remain calm.”

Simmons had four students and two other advisors in the room with her at the time of the incident.

“We could hear people in the hallways and radios going on and off and at one point I did look out my window, and I know I’m not supposed to do that,” Simmons said. “But I wanted to make sure it was a drill and I did see a SWAT team in the hall. It was at that point that I knew it was not a drill.”

Once it had been confirmed that the students and teachers were safe on campus, everyone was released from the lockdown. The students who stayed on campus followed an altered bell schedule.

“Akins is Akins, which is why I feel like we came through things so very well,” Simmons said. “Because a student trusted us enough to let us know what the situation was so that we could act swiftly and I feel like the environment and the culture that we have here with our students is one where we’ve just come through this and I feel like we’re actually stronger and better and closer for it.”

Teachers are required to know the protocol for reverse evacuation and lockdown procedure. According to Simmons, the lockdown drills were successful in preparing them for the real thing.

“The protocols and the training helped,” Simmons said. “Continuing to just let students know that we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that they’re safe and build that trust with them.”

That same evening, a meeting was held and open to all families of the Akins community. The following day, additional Austin ISD police officers were on campus.

“I actually think it was pretty amazing to see how well everyone did that day,” Simmons said. “Once we were released from full lockdown and we were really seeing students and reuniting them with their families, it was pretty amazing to see just how quickly and how fluidly everyone worked together. But the processes that were in place were extremely, I felt, well managed. That brought me a lot of comfort.”

According to Principal Brandi Hosack, a student at Akins High School who reported the incident immediately was the reason that the campus police were able to react so quickly.

“It’s hard to put into words how much admiration I have for that student,” Simmons said. “I think that, you know, our students are the ones that are going to make things different.  I feel like we can come up with all of these ways to handle stuff, but the students are the ones that are the ones who know first.”

In a letter written to the Akins High School Community, Principal Hosack and the Superintendent of AISD, Dr. Paul Cruz, reinforced the importance of students speaking up if they see suspicious activity on their campus.

“It’s critical that they speak up and that they know that we’re going to listen to them and take them seriously and that we’re going to appreciate when they do talk to us,” Simmons said. “I think that’s what’s important.”

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The student news site of James Bowie High School
The Lockdown