After Newtown: Lockdown drill Wednesday, vigil Thursday

Berkeley High School. Photo: Lance Knobel

Berkeley High School will have an emergency drill Wednesday afternoon. Thursday, a vigil and discussion about the Connecticut school shooting has been planned for a North Berkeley church. Photo: Lance Knobel

As the community continues to try to come to terms with Friday’s school tragedy in Newtown, CT, at least two Berkeley events this week respond to the deadly shooting.

A vigil to remember the victims took place over the weekend in Berkeley, and messages from school leaders and staff members have been going out daily to members of many Berkeley schools.

Wednesday afternoon, Berkeley High School will hold a brief safety drill to simulate lockdown procedures during an emergency. In an email to Berkeley High families, school Principal Pasquale Scuderi said the drill had already been planned, but that “the recent tragedy in Connecticut has obviously reaffirmed our need to maintain this type of capability.”

Scuderi said the drill would include “a brief acknowledgement of the victims in Connecticut and for the many around the world who are victimized by gun violence.”

He said staff would work to ensure that the drill is “respectful of current events” and that, if emotions arise, “we will take care of each other”: “The gravity of the realities that necessitate these aspects of our work will likely stir some emotions, but I much prefer some discomfort over indifference and inaction where our ability to protect kids is concerned.”

See his full email, sent Tuesday night, below in italics.

Thursday, Dec. 20, a candlelight vigil and meditation at Epworth United Methodist Church will be followed by a discussion for parents and adults “on how these events affect us and our families and offer resources on ways to comfort children in troubling times.”

The vigil, at 1953 Hopkins St., lasts from 6-7 p.m. The discussion, from 7-8 p.m. will follow. Free childcare and refreshments will be provided. We invite readers who know of other related events to share them in the comments below.

Adults, children attend candlelight vigil for Newtown [12.17.12]
Candlelight vigil today to remember Newtown families [12.15.12]
‘Today seems like a day to hug our kids a little harder’ [12.14.12]

Principal Scuderi’s email

Dear BHS Families:

As previously mentioned BHS will conduct a school-wide lockdown drill tomorrow, Wednesday, December 19, at 1:30 p.m.

This exercise, like the one we ran last year, will serve to continuously improve our collective ability to secure the entire perimeter of our campus and shelter students and staff should there be an emergency or threat to our campus.

While this exercise was discussed and proposed some time ago, the recent tragedy in Connecticut has obviously reaffirmed our need to maintain this type of capability.

One simple rule we want families and students to be clear on in the event of an actual lockdown or shelter in place:

Students proceed to the nearest safe space, office, or classroom even it is not THEIR classroom, and then stay there with staff until law enforcement or school administrators call the incident clear.

We will make every effort to ensure that the process is effective and respectful of current events. The exercise should take 5-7 minutes.

There will also be a brief acknowledgement of the victims in Connecticut and for the many around the world who are victimized by gun violence at the conclusion of the exercise.

The gravity of the realities that necessitate these aspects of our work will likely stir some emotions, but I much prefer some discomfort over indifference and inaction where our ability to protect kids is concerned.

Should emotions arise we will take care of each other. The challenges of these scenarios — even in simulation — require us to manage and respect our emotions and those of our students, while maintaining our ability to meet our primary responsibility of keeping them safe amidst the unthinkable.

Pasquale Scuderi
Berkeley High School

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  • PragmaticProgressive

    The Newton shooting was a terrible event, without question.

    But why this response at BHS? There’s a shooting right next door in Oakland almost every day, but we don’t ever do “brief acknowledgments” of those AFAIK.

    By all means, have a safety drill, review procedures, and look for age-appropriate ways to counsel kids who’ve been upset by the murder of children their own age on the other side of the country.

    I just wonder why we’re treating Newton like an “unthinkable” outlier when we have plenty of equally senseless violence right here in the East Bay.

  • berkeleyparent

    Because this was a massacre in. a. school.
    Maybe you don’t have kids, and maybe you have a hard time imagining it, but many kids are feeling scared and apprehensive about going to school based on what happened.
    Also, thanks to our media, we all have this tragedy in our faces 24/7, and try as we might, it is very difficult to keep little ones from hearing about it.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Yup, I get that, but this story is about actions at the high school. Still kids, but not “little ones.” Old enough to read newspaper headlines in the area where they live — headlines that daily describe horrific death and injury.

    It has me wondering if we’ve collectively given up on Oakland, if we’ve resigned ourselves to a certain level of violence so that it ceases to shock in the way that Newton has. To me, that’s both understandable and terribly sad.

    I certainly agree that the incessant news coverage does no one (except advertisers) any favors. It’s ghoulish.

  • As the wife of a BHS teacher and a concerned citizen, I’m glad that they’re doing this drill today. I agree that there’s so much more that needs to be done to reduce violence in and around Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other surrounding areas. But that doesn’t preclude the need to revisit our safety plans on a regular basis. The tragedy at Newtown was a horrible reminder of how vulnerable we all are and it should be an impetus to keep ALL of our children safe- no matter the age or the city.

  • EBGuy

    This year, 10 percent of 11th-graders [at Berkeley High School], or about 84 students in that grade, said they brought a weapon, defined as a gun, knife or club, to school. That is down from 15 percent in 2010 and 15 percent in 2008.

  • berkeleyparent

    I do understand your point, but whether it’s right or wrong, or fair or not: kids (and 13 & 14 year olds may seem big and tough, but they’re still just kids) are really shook up about this, and it is our job as parents and teachers to help them feel safe.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Sure, no one’s arguing that. I am wondering about the “brief acknowledgment” that was included in the exercise when so many nearby deaths go unacknowledged.

    I don’t want to over-parse Scuderi’s statement — the fact that we have safety plans for such incidents is evidence enough that, sadly, they aren’t really “unthinkable.” And there’s tremendous pedagogical value in helping kids properly process the emotional toll of a massacre like this — learning how to handle grief is a necessary, if unwelcome, lesson in life.

    But, as I wrote earlier, I wonder about our complacency concerning violence in our area. I hate the thought that it just comes with the territory or that things would have to escalate even further to shock us out of our stupor.

  • berkeleyparent

    The thing is that gang violence, or violence between people that know each other (I forget the term) is a completely different animal from mass murder of unknowns. The first at least has a (no matter how twisted) explanation. The second shocks and scares us more because it seems irrational and unexpected and causes us to feel more vulnerable.

  • bgal4

    Agree, and while Scuderi claims he prefers to face difficult problems rather than indifference and inaction, that was not his attitude when he was the VP of Academic Choice program and I went to him personally about inaction and indifference regarding threats to harm my son written on school computers. But oh yeah, Slemp was in charge then, so are we to understand that whoever is the current “leader” matters more than legal compliance and best practices in school safety.

    This is a high profile incident, all schools across the country are putting out information about their safety procedures, and increases patrols due to the possibility of copy cat incidents. But just under the surface, it is easy to find serious examples of indifference and inaction regarding youth violence in this community.

  • guest


  • bgal4

    Put your name to that comment, how dare you attack my character when you have no idea what we actually went through. I have done more than any single person to improve safety practices in this district, bitter people do not bother to improve their community by challenging people to face facts.
    Now answer the question, whotf are you.Likely a righteous staff member, ignorant, clueless, but definitely righteous.

  • The Sharkey

    What a sad state when the students have more reason to fear getting shot by their classmates than by a madman.

  • guest

    No, just a lurker who has noticed that, just as sharkey shoehorns Worthington’s name in everywhere he can, you attack BUSD every chance you get.
    You had a bad experience. I’m sorry. But at some point you’ve got to move on.

  • guest

    Well, less of them do this year!

  • The Sharkey

    The new Disqus system makes it easier for trolls like this specific “guest” to post with complete anonymity, since there is no way to check to see if other comments have been posted using that e-mail address in the past.

    Sort of makes posting with a Disqus account seem pointless. Perhaps we should all ditch our accounts and just turn into completely anonymous trolls?

  • bgal4

    go away, you are clueless and just a trouble maker. Your idea of moving on is some psychobabble crap, I am committed to meaningful civic engagement to improve community outcomes.

  • bgal4

    Yeah, I noticed that. Lurkers interfere with the potential for productive discussions.It might be TL, the tone is similar.

  • The Sharkey

    Fewer. Not less.

    1 in 10 children bringing a weapon to school is nothing to cheer about.

  • The Sharkey

    Yes, why try to hold anyone accountable for anything? Why work on trying to change a broken system? Everything should stay the same forever. Anyone who wants to make things better is just “obsessed!”


  • guest

    Oh god. Here we go.

  • guest

    Shut up.

  • guest

    Disagreeing with you is not trolling.

  • guest

    no you shut up

  • guest

    Disagreeing with you is not trolling.

  • guest

    No you shut up instead.

  • The Sharkey

    I don’t think it’s him at all. The tone is too flippant and churlish.
    And he was at least usually more verbose in his disagreements.

  • The Sharkey

    Acquaintance violence?

    As shocking and scary as random violence might be, it’s waaaaaay less common than the media likes to pretend it is. You’re significantly more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed by a spree killer.

  • guest

    “moving on” is psychobabble?
    Oh, I’m sorry. By all means, wallow. Wallow and moan and groan… drag it out as long as you can. Everyone around you loves it, and you yourself will benefit on many levels. (is that better?)

  • guest

    Weird how this comment, referring to an old poster, and trying to unmask a “guest” is not deleted, but my response of exasperation was…

  • guest

    Shut up Beth.

  • Beth Sager

    Boo hoo!

  • Security Theatre. I have more issues with our news culture than our gun culture. But they are two great tastes that go great together!

  • guest

    Well, you may not care, but I find it odd. Also, it’s back now, so I guess I should just say O disqus!

  • PragmaticProgressive

    This happened yesterday: a woman shot by a stray bullet. There won’t be a moment of acknowledgment for that.

  • I’ve posted about BHS’ school safety procedure here- and I encourage parents of all school-age students to become familiar with their schools’ safety procedures: