Hot Takes: Accidental Lockdown


Shruti Patankar and Siya Aparanji

Our Forum editors are back with Hot Takes on life here at Fremd!


Where were you on Aug 26, 2022, when Fremd went into a false lockdown? Were you sitting in class, staring at the clock? Were you walking back from getting Tre Amici’s to celebrate it being Friday? Were you in the bathroom, trying to find your hall pass so a monitor wouldn’t assume you were a threat to school safety? 

Fremd is notorious for our weekly check of the Palatine Fire Department’s response time. Each time the beeping starts, the student body strolls leisurely out of the building, groaning, “Not again!”

We typically plan and notify students ahead of time for a lockdown drill, but the initial, unsaid assumption in every student’s mind that day was that a gunman had entered the school. 

The fear that gnawed at us for the entire lockdown is familiar in parts. It’s a sibling of the pain that we felt after hearing of the Highland Park shooting, or a distant aunt of the shock we felt as we found out about Parkland. 

After years of watching news reporters stand outside hollowed-out concert arenas, high schools, and public places, capitalizing on the pain of others, what are we doing? 

How close does it need to get? For us to vote? For us to report our peers that say unforgettable things? For us to start putting a child’s life above the gun lobby?

We don’t need to be proud that we can quickly fall in place after hearing the lockdown alarm ring. This generation has been practicing that for years while watching the news and identifying the exits out of school auditoriums. This accidental lockdown alarm should be our final sign – it’s time to progress from response to prevention. 



As I sat huddled in a corner, I heard different responses from classmates. 

“Must be another student starting something.” 

“I just texted my mom.”

Sitting in the middle, I was having trouble with what to believe. The entirety of less than five minutes felt like an eternity while I tried to find the perfect thought to have at the moment. I didn’t want to be too relaxed in fear that an actual intruder entered Fremd, but I also didn’t want to be scared only to face the embarrassment of “falling for it.” 

Drills and accidents prepare us alike. While the accidental alarm on Aug 26 was nothing short of traumatic for some students, it may have been the most effective way to test our response to worse situations. 

When drills are planned, and teachers are alerted, they prepare with an escape route. Aug 26 tested teachers’ true ability to get their students to safety while panicking. On the other hand, students had no previous exposure to information about the alarm so their reaction was genuine as well.

While accidental alarms are terrifying and should never occur again in the best interests of students and faculty, drills are essential. When implemented correctly, drills help us prepare for a day when it wasn’t set off by accident.