The students of Franklin High School in Ohio began their school day on Wednesday, October 2, with a briefing about what was to come. But when the shooting started, panic and tears still came.
The active shooter drill, run by the school and Franklin city police, had been planned for two years before the event. It was an all-day affair, including the briefing, the actual drill, a debrief afterwards, and community exercises among the students. There was also a presentation about it several weeks before, when parents were encouraged to come and make themselves familiar with what would happen.
In further preparation, the teachers went through the same exercise in early September to prepare them so they could better guide their students.
During the drill, two Franklin police officers fired their weapons, loaded with blanks, multiple times in several locations around the school. Students and teachers were tasked to improvise responses, determining if they should evacuate, barricade themselves in their homerooms, or move to a second location.
“When we heard the gunfire up by our room, I knew it was happening but I still jumped,” said Samantha Earnhart, a senior. “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 and her classmates opted to barricade the door of their second-floor classroom.
Ohio has had four school shootings in the last decade, with a total of 10 injured and three dead. The last one was in 2017, right around the time Franklin High began to plan this drill.
After the active shooter drill, students were allowed to ask the police any questions that came up. One student asked if they were allowed to try to take down the shooter themselves. It was heavily discouraged, but Police Lt. Gerry Massey did tell the student that he wouldn’t be punished if he tried.
“We can’t plan for every scenario,” said Principal Kelli Fromm in the debriefing. “We want to make [sure] you are aware of your situation. That’s why we’re cracking down on earbuds and hoodies. We’re not trying to be mean, we want to keep you safe.”
The active shooter drill left officials feeling that students could handle the stress of the scenario, Fromm said. Given the students’ reactions, that statement sounds pretty blasé.