Students in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, heard the sound of rapid gunfire on Thursday, Sept. 13. There was no one out to kill them, their parents even received a letter explaining the event in detail.
This was an Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (A.L.I.C.E.) Drill, which school police and an official A.L.I.C.E. team went through in hopes of preparing the children for an emergency. They only fired blanks.
“The faculty and staff have been apprised of the situation and over the next few days the students will be shown a PowerPoint in homeroom, providing them with the needed information,” the letter to parents said.
According to WXPI, parents’ reactions ranged from welcoming to worried.
“Even though they were told ahead of time, what will happen — I think kids with any kind of issues will intensify,” said grandparent Marlene Vavrek.
Bethel Park is located just outside Pittsburgh. As the Morning Call reports, the Bethel Park district is made up of eight schools, including one high school, two middle schools, and five elementary schools. At least 4,200 students attend Bethel Park Schools. The A.L.I.C.E. Drill was only performed at the high school.
Similar drills have been performed in 50 states, in 4,200 school districts, the A.L.I.C.E. website maintains.
“We want all Americans to have the knowledge and skills to survive when shots are fired,” the organization states in its mission. “We can achieve this by training as many people as possible and implementing training in drill form across all organizations. We have seen the successful results of fire drills. It’s time to start anticipating man-made disasters.”
At least one parent agrees.
Nicki Sink, the mother of a junior at Bethel Park High School, told WPXI.
“Why not give them the tools to be ready for it instead of being worried about a traumatic experience of what could be a traumatic experience?” she said.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.