Education

New school locks help elementary school students feel safe

Locks prevent outside access during attacks

MANCHESTER, Tenn. - Bentley Adcock may be six years old, but he can easily recite the steps to a new safety protocol at his elementary school in Manchester, Tennessee.

Much like his peers in his first-grade class at New Union Elementary School, Adcock is forced to learn more ways to keep his school safe unlike the generations who came before him.

For the first time this school year, the small school installed nearly 50 safety locks on all doors to better secure them in case of a threat, particularly an armed intruder.

Per the request of his teacher, Adcock showed how a red metal hook could attach to the bottom of the door and bolt it into the ground. He proceeded to enact where his classmates would huddle in the room to hide.

"Anybody who tries to get in, you put this in nobody and could get in. So, we don't really have to worry," Adcock said.

The decision to purchase the new locks came from Mrs. Nikki Alonso's first-grade last year. She and her students wanted to help ensure school safety as part of the school's annual community service project. Not only is Alonso's father a former sheriff, but her husband was a school resource officer.

"It does make me feel sad that we have to do this, but I feel like this has become a positive thing," Alonso said. "I never wanted to leave my students where I felt like they couldn't be as safe as they wanted to be."

In two weeks, 48 first-grade students raised more than $3,000 to purchase the lock screws, supplied by the company Nightlock, with the help of donations from businesses in the community.

Second grade student Audrey Keele, who was in the class that helped fundraise, was excited to see the locks installed. Although she may not completely understand what an intruder incident can entail, she's aware of the importance.

"I never thought it would come to life, but school will be safer now. Someone could come in, but now, no one could come in," Keele gleefully said.

The added feature required teachers to undergo training, and school officials to change security plans.

The locks are the latest venture in the school's ongoing to improve safety which included hiring a school resource officer and his K-9 and buzzing visitors in the front door.


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