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School, district administrators take steps to ensure campus safety

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This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (September 29th, 2017).

As each school year begins, new changes and policies are implemented to make each year better than before. This becomes especially apparent when new leadership comes into play.

“When I [first] came here, I did a needs assessment around the school and I felt like one of the things I wanted to improve on [was] safety and security,” said principal Joe Trybus. “I like to think of OHS as a leader; I wanted to lead with having a safe school.”

Now, with four years as principal under his belt, Trybus is getting the opportunity to put some of his vision for safety into motion, due to the cooperation of the Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) district.

“A lot of these [initiatives] were already in the works, but with there [being] a shooting at Seminole High School last year and [having] a person retire from the district office, who was in charge of safety and security, it’s testimony to the fact that we have to be conscious of safety,” Trybus said.

In reaction to events like the school shooting, and the bomb threat that occurred at OHS two years ago, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department partnered with SCPS to make plans.

“I have working in my office a captain and a lieutenant from the sheriff’s department, [and] I’m in constant daily contact with them; [they] keep me posted on things that are happening globally, nationally, statewide and county-wide,” said SCPS superintendent
Walt Griffin.

Since partnering, the two organizations have created a symbiotic relationship based on the same initiative: making school campuses safer.

A couple of years ago, the sheriff’s department conducted a study on safety and came up with precautionary measures to better combat and ward against compromising situations.

The study discovered a couple ways to make school campuses safer, which Trybus has supported.

“The first [discovery] was that every employee has to wear a name badge with their picture on it, and it has to be above their waist,” Trybus said. “The second thing they said [was] you can make year campus a whole lot safer if teachers lock their doors, [which is ] easy to do on an elementary campus, but it’s hard to do on a high school campus because there

are hundreds of doors; but if your door’s locked, the likelihood is that you’re probably going to stay safe. If it’s open, then bad things can happen.”

Since many of these changes affect teachers, there are mixed feelings about these decisions, but Trybus finds little negativity.

“I generally have not have any negative feedback, I’ve had inquiries,” Trybus said.

Yearbook teacher Alicia Pope, who has worked at OHS for many years, feels that all these changes are a different shift compared for the OHS she used to know.

“I’ve been on campus a long time, but things have changed,” Pope said. “For decades, there wasn’t even a fence around the school; people walked freely on and off campus.”

Pope attributes this shift in protective measures to the growth and expansion of Oviedo.

“Oviedo is bigger now, and less rural; there are more opportunities for people who want to do harm,” Pope said.

Both the district and school administration understand concerns regarding safety measures but believe that their implementations will help guard against threats; therefore they will continue to adapt to changes when they see fit to do so.

“It’s like your house: you don’t go to bed at night and leave your doors wide open or your garage wide open, you lock everything down,” Trybus said. “I think it speaks to society and where we are. There’re a lot of people out there who are just not nice people, and we just have to do what we can do to protect ourselves.”

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School, district administrators take steps to ensure campus safety