More than 800 students at Franklin High School experiencing gunfire in their school during an active shooting trainingthat involved two Franklin police officers firing a shotgun and a rifle loaded with blanks at timed intervals on Tuesday.
Students were given the opportunity to hear what gunfire might sound like inside the building and were able to decide whether to evacuate from the building or barricade themselves inside their classrooms.
Even though the students knew a drill was coming days ago that would involve the firing of weapons, some still were jarred at the situation when they heard the shots and smelled the gunpowder residue in the hallways.
School officials said they were pleased when they heard students and staff in some rooms moving furniture around for a barricade. A mobile app kept teachers and staff in the loop of each room’s situation after the shots were fired.
Teachers also encouraged students to practice using the door stop device that is attached to the floor of their classrooms.
The safety drill was about two years in the making, said Rodney Roberts, Franklin City Schools business manager. Some students became panicked or anxious and asked to see counselors, he said.
The day started with a briefing with all students, who went back to their homerooms. Shortly after, two Franklin officers went to different places in the building and fired their weapons multiple times so that students and teachers could determine their next steps.
In the seventh round, police fired their weapons from separate locations. At that time, the students had to determine if they should evacuate or barricade themselves.
An hour-long debriefing followed so students could hear comments from police and school administrators and ask questions. One asked if studentswould be arrested if they took action against the intruder. Police Lt. Gerry Massey said he would not be arrested, even though the preferred option is getting out of the building.
Students were sent to their classes, where they reviewed classroom safety protocols. They also did Social Emotional activities on their experiences during the drill and discussed inclusiveness among students.
“We can’t plan for every scenario,” said Principal Kelli Fromm. “We want to make you are aware of your situation. This is why we’ve been cracking down on earbuds and hoodies. We’re not trying to be mean, we want to keep you safe.”
Fromm said officials felt certain students could handle the stresses of the drill.
“We want them to feel empowered,” she said.
Senior Samantha Earnhart said students knew the first gunshots were on the first floor and didn’t hear them well from their second-floor classroom.
“When we heard the gunfire up by our room, I knew it was happening but I still jumped,” she said. “I became very emotional and I started to cry. I just don’t know… it’s a really horrible situation if that actually happened here.”
Earnhart said her classmates opted to barricade themselves in a storeroom after securing the classroom door.
“I actually feel a little more confident but I’m sure an actual situation would be more overwhelming and difficult,” she said. “I definitely feel I know what to do and feel more prepared.”
Sophomore Isaiah Bales said the experience was “shocking” as he and his classmates were barricading their door.
While they were anticipating the gunfire, Bales said he could still feel the shock of hearing it. He also thought the teachers going through the same exercise a few weeks ago was a big help and more able to help students.
“Being able to feel safe with teachers is a good thing to have when you come to school each day,” he said.
Another student, senior Austin Begley, was on the first floor , and her class opted to evacuate from the building.
“It’s helpful to know what to do in this situation in today’s day because it could happen anywhere,” Begley said. “It’s good to know the exit routes and where to go and know where you’re going to help first responders resolve the situation.”