In 1928, when Hillsborough High School opened its doors, school security was not at the top of everyone’s mind.
Times have changed.
“You go to some of our older, beautiful schools… And they were built to be grand,” explained John Newman, Chief of Security & Emergency Management for the district. “Inside the building it was more about the movement of people going from one place to the next. Now we have to consider active assailants and single points of access. It’s the world we live in today.”
As times change, so do the way we construct schools—and improve them.
That’s why security vestibules are being placed in five of our Hillsborough County Public High Schools—Hillsborough, Leto, Chamberlain, Plant City and Jefferson High.
Last year, when you walked into Hillsborough High School, you had to walk about a minute down the hallway to reach the office.
A hallway filled with teachers and students.
But then, in February 2018, 17 students and teachers were killed during a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. School districts across the country took a good HARD look at their security.
“After Parkland, we were mandated to go to every school and look at vulnerabilities,” said Chief Newman. “when we did, we recognized a vestibule could be a solution for some of our schools.”
Now, instead of walking in a door, up some stairs, and down a hallway to get to an office—a vestibule has been added to the front of the school. When school is in session, every visitor, parent and student coming in after the bell rings, will be buzzed into the vestibule--they will have to present their i.d., sign in and then be buzzed into the main area of the school.
At Hillsborough, it doesn’t take away from the aesthetic at all. From the outside, you’d never know it was there.
But it is—and Hillsborough High Principal Gary Brady says knowing that security is in place is a big weight off his shoulders, “to know that there’s one access point we have to monitor, and we have multiple adults and a security officer, I feel great and I think our parents should feel great too.”