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San Marcos High School ~ Santa Barbara, CA

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Why Are Students Left Uninformed Amidst Crisis?

An Opinion Piece
SM King’s Page
San Marcos went into lockout on February 27 after reports of a stabbing in the Turnpike Shopping Center.

A lockout order was placed on San Marcos yesterday afternoon after a reported stabbing near the Hollister and Turnpike intersection. Thankfully, no students or staff were hurt or under threat. However, the way in which the lockout was handled did bring a pressing concern to light: in lockout and lockdown situations, students are the last community members to receive important information. 

Approximately halfway through the lockout, Principal Holdren issued a ParentSquare to inform parents and teachers that the lockout was in place due to a nearby incident and that students and staff were safe. This message may have been reassuring to teachers and parents, but it did nothing to calm the nerves of students, as they were noticeably not recipients of the ParentSquare. 

Students should not be left to anxiously refresh local news websites for any small piece of information or to hear second hand news from parents and teachers. As the people who are actually on campus (or in more extreme situations, the ones under threat) we students should have the right to hear directly from our administration about what is happening on or near our own campus. 

In some ways, the feeling of not knowing can be even scarier than facing the reality of the situation. Being kept in the dark only further contributes to the feelings of fear many students may experience and can even result in the spread of harmful misinformation. 

We are high school students after all, and some of us are even adults. High school is supposed to prepare us to navigate college and the world beyond as adults. How can we be well equipped to handle the realities of the world if we are not kept in the loop when it comes to issues concerning our own safety?

Later in the day, Principal Holdren sent another ParentSquare out to parents to provide more information about the incident and to assure them of their students’ safety. This message was not sent to students either, meaning students did not get any sense of closure following the incident. If students’ teachers or parents did not share these messages with them, we would not have heard anything from our Principal directly besides announcements made on the loudspeaker during the lockout. 

The recent lockout is not the first time this communication issue has become clear. Last spring, San Marcos was put into lockdown after false reports of an active shooter were made to the Sheriff’s Department. When information became available to parents and teachers, students were once again left uninformed. In a situation as serious as a potential school shooter, students deserve to be informed, rather than be left to wonder what horrible event would cause such a large number of police cars to be so near campus. 

At the end of the day, our school’s administration’s quick order to put the school in lockout eliminated any potential threats to staff and students, and I recognize that these situations can be very stressful to our administration. While I am appreciative of all the work they do each day to ensure that San Marcos is a safe place for learning, I implore our administration to keep their students better informed moving forward. 

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About the Contributor
Noelle Cabrera, Editor in Chief
Noelle is an 12th grader at San Marcos High School. This is her fourth year on The King’s Page and she is now the Editor in Chief. Journalism is currently her favorite class and she is also a member of the San Marcos Ethnic Studies Club. Outside of school she volunteers with animals, is a member of the Youth Making Change Board and is in the Santa Barbara Chapter of GenUp.
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