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Kentlake High School Demonstrates Priorities Through Annual Safety Training

Preparation is inherent to the Kentlake High School culture, manifested in their annual safety training on November 29. Utilizing various spaces in the school, the comprehensive training imagined a scenario, and the different response teams had to react as if it were happening in real time. Kentlake Principal Heidi Maurer talked about the importance of the training, "it is empowering for our staff to know how to respond and be confident in responding to a crisis. Over the last six years of doing this type of intentional training, I have found that staff are emotionally better prepared to handle a crisis and, as a result, can better support our students through different types of critical events." This year, the scenario was a devastating earthquake causing catastrophic damage to the school buildings and cutting off the usual means of communication with outside entities.

For this event, Kentlake partnered with Mountainview Fire and Rescue, King County Sheriff's Office, and TAC-30 to cover various topics, including first aid, search and rescue strategies, communication with first responders, and reunification strategies. The different teams split into groups to work through the scenario and discuss best practices. In addition to the benefit of staff confidence and preparedness cultivated through the training, Principal Maurer also mentioned peripheral benefits, including "the relationships that we build with the first responders as we train with them. As a result, I have noticed more effective communication with medics and police when they come to our campus because we know each other, have developed trust, and can communicate effectively in a crisis."

Although this training focuses on the staff response, student preparedness is also a top priority. "At Kentlake, we don't just empower the staff but the students as well," Principal Maurer expressed. "We train our students on "Run, Hide, Fight" so they too know how to respond. In our last lockdown, our students took leadership roles to lock down our campus and to direct their peers with the appropriate protocols." A group of students from the girls' basketball team were also involved in the annual training, assisting in executing the search and rescue drills. "They get a chance to see the training we do firsthand. It is always great to hear their thoughts as they share how they feel more confident knowing that our teachers are getting advanced first aid and search and rescue training," said Principal Maurer.

The safety training especially revealed its utility during Kentlake's recent lockdown. Local law enforcement was impressed with how well the school responded to the crisis: "We received many accolades for our students and staff's response to the situation. Because we train and prepare, our students and staff took charge of the situation and handled it beautifully," Principal Maurer said. The Kent School District believes student safety is critical to receiving their education, and when students are in a safe environment, they can focus on academics. In summation, Principal Maurer said: "Unfortunately, we live in an age where bad things can happen in schools. We choose not to ignore this but to take a multi-faceted approach to keeping our schools safe. In Kent, we say that student safety is our number one priority. At Kentlake, that is a value that we live."


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