School safety a high priority

THOMAS – Because of the shootings at Newtown, Conn., this month, school safety is on everyone’s mind.
In the Snake River School District, high school assistant principal Ray Carter is in charge of school security.
“Our first priority is student and staff safety as well as safety for family, patrons and community members,” said Carter. “Students won’t be able to achieve academically without the assurance of their safety.
“I think stability with the administration and staff members really helps,” he said.
Dean Bonney has been principal at Snake River High School (SRHS) for 15 years. Carter has been the assistant principal at SRHS for 11 years.
“[Administrators and staff members] play an active role in [each student’s] education,” Carter said. “Their education is personalized.
“We have 520 students in the high school and we know them and their circumstances,” he said.
SRHS also has two full-time counselors—Karen Crook and Brian Goff--who have each worked in the district 15 plus years.
“Stability goes a long ways,” Carter said. “We try to influence students with activities, personal involvement with them so we may give them the best educational opportunities.
“Our kids are safe here at SRHS,” said Carter.
Bingham County Deputy Drew Lusk has been the resource officer in the district for 10 years.
The district has practiced for emergency situations. Five years ago, there was an active shooter drill; two years ago an evacuation was conducted.
“The sheriff’s office is integrated within the school district,” said Lusk.
Science teacher Todd Thorne said the administration and teachers are constantly monitoring the halls as well as the cafeteria.
“Having their presence here helps us avoid any type of conflict between students,” he said. “Problems are taken care of quickly by pre-empting potential problems.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Thorne said. “Everyone likes each other and they look out for each other pretty good.”
“I feel safe at work,” said teacher Gaydena Smith, who has worked in the district for 22 years.
“There could be a concern if [the school district] wants to tightened things up,” said science teacher Elaine Asmus. “The community is comfortable with the staff, both formally and informally.”
The example she cited was people being able to just walk into her classroom.
SRHS student Araceli Rodriguez said, “I’ve always felt safe here.”
High School student Brandee Duchscher said, “The environment is good here. The majority of us get along. We have good teachers and have people we can talk to.”