How Thomas A. Edison CTE High School is Keeping Their Students Safe

BBC News reported about a teen stabbing students at his school in Scotland. This begs the question whether or not the school had initiated any safety procedure. Thomas Edison CTE High School, located in Jamaica, New York, has a multitude of measures and protocols to keep their students from harm. Students from the ninth grade up to twelfth grade have endured strict security exercises which come in the form of: scanning, fire drills, and lock-down drills.

Each of the three exercises mentioned are completed from September to June. They do not happen periodically and are therefore done at random. For scanning, students are required to swipe their identification cards through the machine, put all metal items in their backpacks, and step through the body scanners. The process takes about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the time of entry and the amount of students who are there.

Fire drills are different from scanning and lock downs. In any case of a real fire,the entire school population is evacuated from the building and must proceed in two directions. Some may walk towards their neighboring high school (Jamaica High School) and others may walk towards the field which is adjacent to the Grand Central highway..

As for shelter in drills, both teachers and students can carry on with their daily activities. Anyone in the hallway at the time the lock down is administered must go into any class that is near them. School safety then patrols the hallways; the threat is outside of the building and being monitored.

In the event of a hard of soft lock down, students, staff, and teachers must turn off their lights in whatever room they are in, lock their doors, move away from any windows or doors, and have to remain silent. Again school safety monitors the hallways. Even if students are in the lunchroom, they have to move away from the windows and stay as close to the kitchens as possible. 

Although we have all these safety measures, Mr, Adam Boxer, the Asst. Principal Administration of  Health Education and School Safety, agreed to go on the record and discuss other ways that Edison is keeping its people safe.

Mr. Boxer said, “ Having students put their coats away at Check-out is a way. This allows students to look like students. It stops them from cutting class. We also have a new entry system for visitors. All visitors use state ID cards. We run a quick check on the person to make sure they don’t have any outstanding police issues. If we get an alert then  they won’t be allowed to step forth in the building. This helps prevent any intrusions.”

Mr. Boxer also mentioned other critical information.

He said, “Currently there is 64 cameras in the school which are monitored regularly. Throughout the year we perform state required lockdown drills in the case of emergencies.”

Mr. Boxer went to say that the building is constantly monitored and assured me that if you see something then say something. This mantra calls back to what the MTA promotes in their commercials.

Mr. Boxer feels that more actions could be taken to keep Edison safe.

He said, “Mr. Ojeda and myself are very proactive. There is always new things to see what we can and can’t do. As of now I am currently happy with the school.”

Finally, Mr. Boxer discussed special protocols that our school has for specific instances.

He said, “Within every school safety plan in the city of New York there is a GRP which means General Response Protocol. In our new student orientation meetings in September, every student is reminded of them.”

Mr. Dan Engelson, one of the four deans at Thomas Edison also shared some information about the school’s ongoing focus on keeping the environment and the people around it safe. For the entire school safety staff, they’ve participated in various training exercises run by Homeland security.

He said, “We have undergone various training with the AED (automated external defibrillator), and CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation). We’ve also gone to different Homeland security training routines. They consist of Active shooting, bomb threats, gangs, as well as alcohol and drug seminars. To me preparation is safety. Therefore we also practiced lockdown and GRP drills.

Mr. Engelson further commented about vaping and scanning, “Vaping is an issue. Not necessarily a security issue…it’s not Edison’s decision to have full time scanning.”

If anyone is concerned with the school safety, they are encouraged to contact Mr. Boxer, Mr. Engelson, and their colleagues.

Nicholas Suresh

My name is Nicholas Suresh. I write for the Features section of The Edison Light. I think reporting about unexpected things is what makes my section stand out from the others. In my spare time, both my brother and I study karate at the Jaribu System of Martial Arts.