St. C. schools beefing up security

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – As evidenced by Monday’s deadly shooting at a Nevada middle school, the effort to protect our nation’s children while in the classroom is a never-ending one.

So when the St. Clairsville-Richland City School District had an opportunity to participate in the nationally-renowned ALICE program, it was one the district couldn’t turn down.

ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) is quickly becoming the new standard of care across the nation.

Recommended by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, ALICE has already been introduced to all staff members at St. Clairsville.

”It’s a sad state of affairs that you have to prepare for this, but it’s sad if you don’t prepare for this,” St. Clairsville Superintendent Walt Skaggs said.

As part of the district’s efforts to stay proactive, St. Clairsville schools has teamed up with Lowe’s and Wheeling Hospital to provide some tools to help students stay safe.

”We can’t say enough about them stepping up to the plate,” Skaggs said. ”We’re glad for them to do what they did.”

Lowe’s is providing 130 large buckets with lids for every classroom in the district. In addition, they will help fill the buckets with tools such as a hammer, 4-feet of rope, duct tape and flashlight.

Jen Rogers, manager of the St. Clairsville Lowe’s location, said Lowe’s is always looking to aid worthy community endeavors.

”We felt this was a very pertinent and important matter we wanted to be involved in and help support,” she said.

”We want to support the local community. And when anyone in the school reaches out we definitely want to there to help with that.”

Wheeling Hospital is helping fill the bucket with medical supplies such as Band-Aids, gauze, medical gloves and peroxide.

”We understand what the school district is attempting to accomplish,” noted Gregg Warren, Wheeling Hospital’s vice president of marketing.

Warren pointed out the recent opening of the hospital’s Tower 5, which contains a state-of the-art emergency trauma center on its first floor that can tend to mass-casualty situations.

”We hope we never have to use it,” he said. ”Likewise, the school district is preparing for a situation they hope they never have to deal with.

”As we prepare, they have to be prepared.”

Skaggs explained that just as the district has its staff and students prepared for any other type of incident like a fire or weather event, being proactive in the case of a school intruder is just as, if not, more important.

”(ALICE) takes things to a whole new level,” he said.

That’s welcome news for the schools’ resource officer, Jeff Gazdik.

”I’m sure when we do the training with the students it will go well, also,” he said.

Skaggs students will learn about ALICE in early November. An open house for parents detailing what the students are learning will take place soon, as well. An exact date and time will be relayed to parents through the district’s call system.

”It will give parents a chance to ask questions about the program and allow them a chance to see a presentation on what we’re going to be doing with the kids.

”We’re going to be proactive.”

Thorp can be reached at