Code red leaves students unnerved

Despite repeated drills, students still shaken by October code red.


Macey Merino

Students in social studies teacher Peter Viola’s room reenact the code red drill that took place on October 17.

You hear an announcement over the intercom and your heart starts pounding. Your hands begin to shake. It seems so silent that you can feel the blood rushing through your veins and your vision goes blurry. You’re crunched in a corner with 20 other students who are all thinking the same thing as you are: It’s finally happened to my school.

Students have heard stories about this moment and seen stories on TV. Despite multiple drills, students still felt caught off guard and defenseless. Some teachers are prepared for this moment; some are not. Some students begin to joke, trying to make light of the situation; others start stacking chairs on top of desks in front of the door with no hesitation.

On October 17, a real code red was implemented. Since that scare, students and teachers have been on edge.

“As soon as I heard the announcement, I went into action immediately. We enacted our plan precisely, but once we were in our positions, it became real to me. I told the kids to say a silent prayer,” film teacher Catherine Espinosa said.

The drills conducted in previous months have prepared students with information of what to do during a code red, but nothing can prepare a student for when it is actually happening.

This time, however, there was no shooting or tragedy. Thankfully, it was just a misunderstanding.

Security specialist Jermaine Hollis said, “During the code red at the end of the day, a teacher saw two unnamed students jump the back gate and notified security. As soon as I heard this, I rushed into action mode along with security team members John Bradshaw and Demetrius Brown and SRO Brittany Assam. We found out they were students and immediately I felt relief. That experience prepared us for the real deal.”

Senior Silvana Garcia was locked in the nurse’s office with eight other people and experienced panic.

“I was terrified…we were in the nurse’s office stuffed and stacked on top of each other, not aware of what might have caused this drill,” Garcia said.

In room 425, the sudden intercom also sent students into panic mode. Senior Andrea Ochoa knew exactly what to do.

“I felt confused and in disbelief because the bell was [going to] ring soon, but with my fight or flight instincts, I immediately went into fight mode,” Ochoa said.

Fueled by adrenaline, she got the students to do as much as they could to barricade the doors. She ordered them to huddle in the corner, armed with books, water bottles and various other classroom items as makeshift weapons. Knowing the grave situation they were in, she told her classmates to send final messages to their loved ones. For five agonizing minutes, no one spoke. They were petrified with fear, until finally assistant principal Mary DeArmas came on the intercom to call off the drill, causing the whole class to resume normal activity. People shakily got up from where they were hiding in 425, hugging each other tightly, comforting those who were on the brink of breaking down.  

Even with the numerous drills in the beginning of the year, no one could have been emotionally prepared for this event. Thankfully, most teachers and students knew what to do, and will be better prepared for future code reds.

On November 29, a monthly code red drill took place–the first one to occur since the real code red happened on October 17. The aim of the drills is to show students and teachers how to handle any potential situation.