File this one under: No, that's not an onion headline you're reading. Superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Pennsylvania has a novel solution to school shootings. Harrisburg legislators have just heard his passioned plea to arm students with riverbed rocks to deter would-be school shooters. Watch out, Sam Hyde, you won't get away with it this time because now we got a bucket full of rocks. But we all know the old adage, "sticks and stones will break your bones, but bullets are a lot harder to dodge in a pinch." Wait, that's not how that saying goes at all, is it?
<blockquote>“Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone. If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full students armed with rocks and they will be stoned,” Dr. David Helsel related to the Harrisburg House Education Committee last week.</blockquote>
“At one time I just had the idea of river stone, they're the right size for hands, you can throw them very hard and they will create or cause pain, which can distract,” Helsel told local news outlet WNEP.
According to Helsel, teachers, staff, and students should first be offered active shooter training via a program called ALICE. ALICE is an acronym standing for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. Now, this part probably isn't such a crazy idea. Now here's where it gets a little weird though after a classroom is locked down, the teacher immediately heads to the classroom closet and grabs the 5-gallon bucket so that the students can lob at will in case the shooter manages to get inside. Don't worry, the rocks are meant as a "last resort" (possibly the last resort ever if that's the best you've got as far as deterrents go).
Helsel says teachers, staff, and students were given active shooter training through a program known as ALICE which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and they routinely hold evacuation drills for active shooter simulations.
But if a teacher decides to lockdown a classroom, there are rocks in a five-gallon bucket kept in every classroom closet that students could throw if shooters get inside.
Still, Helsel says the rocks are seen as a last resort.
<blockquote>“We have devices installed in our doors that help to secure them, to make it very difficult to break through,” said Helsel. “We also have, we train kids and talk about barricading the doors.”</blockquote>
A few students, including one senior at Blue Mountain High, says he and others actually like the plan. And the kid makes a decent point:
“It matters because it will help protect the schools, anything helps, rocks are better than books and pencils.”
There are even some parents who are on board with the "bucket of rocks" method of school shooter deterrent.
“At this point, we have to get creative, we have to protect our kids first and foremost, throwing rocks, it's an option,” Dori Bornstein said.
At least one college student in Schuylkill Haven was willing to go on the record and admit the obvious:
“I think that's rather comical.”
Another parent also felt the idea was, well, a bit silly.
<quote>“It's absurd, arm the teachers,” said a parent.</quote>
According to Helsel the district has no current plans for arming teachers, but at least one maintenance employee is trained and certified to work security at the school and he <i>is</i> armed. In addition, Blue Mountain plans to have more support staff get the same training so they can become armed security and run interference in the event the worst happens. Might be interesting if they kept the identities of the armed security staff secret. Quite a possibility the lunch ladies and janitors might get a bit more respect if the kids didn't know which one just might happen to be packing.