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Kaneland School District hosts school safety forum

Goal is to empower students' response to an active shooter situation

MAPLE PARK – Sarah Conley, school resource officer at Kaneland High School, is beloved by so many students, parents and faculty members that it wasn’t difficult for her to capture the audience’s attention during the Kaneland School Safety Community Forum on April 3.

The subject of safety at school, on the other hand, can be difficult to discuss, but it’s something that needed to be addressed and Conley was one of several presenters to discuss what’s currently being done at the district schools as well as what’s forthcoming, including ALICE.

Conley explained ALICE, which is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. It’s an active shooter civilian response training program for schools and other organizations which is being instituted throughout the Kaneland district. During Conley’s training for ALICE, its importance hit home with her when her instructor talked about two potential phone calls you may someday have to make.

“She said I will always make the phone call to tell you, 'Yep, I know that your son Johnny is OK,'” Conley said. “'I’m not exactly sure where he’s at out in those cornfields, but he’s OK. I know that for a fact.' She said I will always want to make that phone call then make the one that says, ‘I know where Johnny is, but he’s not with us anymore.’ I’m not OK with making that phone call and I refuse to make it.

“What we’re doing is teaching our kids options to think and to get out there and be safe.”

ALICE will empower Kaneland students' response to an active shooter situation.

“If the worst does happen we’re going to fight and we’re going to get out of it and we’re going to win,” Conley said. “It’s going to take that mentality. We’re not rolling over and giving up. Lockdown is not enough. It’s proven. Now these kids are going to have the tools to make their own decisions, to make the choice of the options that lie before them with the information they have and to get out of there and get home safe.”

Josh West, dean at Kaneland High School; Kris Weiss, assistant principal at Kaneland Harter Middle School; and Jake Countryman, assistant principal at John Shields Elementary School and McDole Elementary School discussed where each respective school is at with its ALICE training and what lies ahead. For instance, initial staff training began this spring at the high school and student/staff partnered scenarios and implementation are taking place in 2018-19, while at the elementary level, the book “I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared” is one of several tools currently being used.

The administrators also noted the proactive measures to prevent bullying that are in place at the respective schools.

Superintendent Dr. Todd Leden led the forum and Associate Superintendent Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs provided an overview of the safety practices currently in place.

Attendees were asked to participate in breakout question-and-answer sessions for those with early childhood through fifth grade, middle school and high school students.

The questions that were frequently asked during that time were collected and as soon as they are answered, they will be included in a list online at along with the slides that were shown and the actual video of the presentation, giving attendees a chance to revisit as well as those who missed attending an opportunity to learn more about school safety at Kaneland.

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