Professional training is on display during Oklahoma City school lockdown

February 27, 2017

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The voice on the intercom calmly stated that Kaiser Elementary School was on lockdown, and that this wasn't a drill. Teachers were instructed to follow procedures until further notice.

I was in Mrs. Moore's fifth grade classroom, along with a KFOR reporter and crew, representatives from McDonald's and the OKCPS media relations director, Mark Myers. We were there to do a story about a series of science books that Mrs. Moore had funded through The Foundation for OKCPS's partnership with DonorsChoose.org. The KFOR team was shooting B-roll and interviewing Mrs. Moore and students about their classroom project, which was to design a bed to scale without using a ruler.

When the announcement was made, those of us who were visitors in the room all looked at each other, as if to say, “What do we do now?” Not Mrs. Moore. She immediately sprang into action, locking the door, pulling the blind over the window in the door and turning off the lights. She did this while matter-of-factly saying to the class, “You all know what to do. Please quietly come to the corner of the room and be seated. I need all of you to be very quiet and still. Remember, we've practiced this and it's what we need to do to be sure everyone stays safe.”

There were some whispers and even a few nervous giggles as the students moved to the corner. Then there was silence. Within a few minutes there was the sound of what I assume was a police radio outside in the hall. Someone outside jiggled the door and it was securely locked.

As I got out my phone to text my staff, and to tell the friend I was meeting for lunch that I would most likely be late, Myers was communicating with OKCPS leadership. He learned that there had been a robbery nearby and one suspect was still on the run. The Oklahoma City Police Department recommended the lockdown continue until the area was secure. I shared that information with Mrs. Moore and she decided to read a book to her students. She began reading a science book about scale and scope of measurements. It fit perfectly with the project they had been working on and the entire class listened quietly.

The entire ordeal lasted just over 30 minutes. The announcement was made that all was clear and to resume regular classroom activity, but that lunches would be delayed by 15 minutes. The lights came back on, KFOR finished their filming, McDonald's representative presented Mrs. Moore with a check for $600 and the students went back to designing their beds.

The DonorsChoose.org project Mrs. Moore had funded with The Foundation's help was called Scientists in the Real World. Her description of the project was touching. She shared that budget cuts make materials for science projects difficult and she needed books that included projects requiring minimal supplies that also help her students connect science concepts to real world examples.

My real world expanded during that time in lockdown. The professional training in our schools and the partnership with the police department was evident and very well coordinated. I have never been more proud to be affiliated with Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Read Mary Mélon's original Oklahoman editorial