False lockdown alarm causes fear


Graphic courtesy of Brianna Wang

Hannah O'Keefe and Brianna Wang

On Friday, Aug. 26 during the sixth hour, a hard lockdown was triggered by an alarm, causing the students and staff of William Fremd High School to follow the lockdown procedures. All over the building, students were rushing into corners, while teachers were turning off lights and locking classroom doors.

“We were in the middle of singing a song,” said a Fremd choir student, Nayana, who described sitting with her friends in a small music library, whispering and sharing their fears. “We were nervous,” she said, describing her discussions with people from various classrooms, and how they even listened for gunshots in the now silent school.

Principal Mark Langer mentions that the fear of the situation was increased by the memory of the shooting incidents in Uvalde and Highland Park during the past year.

“I think those two events, not only in closeness in time but the Highland Park event and its closeness to our community just brought it to kind of another level,” Langer said. 

A few minutes after the alarm had sounded, Principal Langer announced that the police officers confirmed it was a false alarm. Classes continued as scheduled once administrators notified each classroom. 

Science teacher Matthew Hopkins recalls the relief of hearing that the lockdown was an accident.

“It was serious, but it wasn’t actually caused by something malicious or something like an actual school intruder,” he said. “I think the students felt a similar way.” 

While many Vikings shared the relief of knowing that there was no real threat, they still struggled to grasp the idea of what could have happened. 

“I didn’t really process it until I got home,” said one student, who claimed that the events of the sixth period made it more difficult for her to take a test the next period and that the rest of her day was ruined.

While Principal Langer offered support in both his follow-up announcement and the email he sent to the students and their families, many teens continued discussing the alarm and the panic it caused, reliving their fears and doubts, and often finding that others felt the same. 

But despite all of the negative events of this experience, Hopkins believes the lockdown improved the Vikings’ ability to follow lockdown protocols under stress. 

“It kind of put our drills to the test that we did the previous week,” Hopkins said. “So I guess it’s a good refresher if anything.” 

Throughout the school, students were following directions and teachers were ready to do anything to protect their students.

“I needed to put myself between the door and them,” English teacher Patricia Weidig said

Principal Langer recalls walking through the hall and seeing the lockdown procedures put into action. 

“Students were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing,” he said. “Teachers were sweeping the hallway, yelling lockdown, getting anybody who they could into their rooms and then closing their doors, shutting all the lights, and going into a lockdown.”