What Lakeside’s Lockdown Taught Us

For many, the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 8 was nothing out of the ordinary. And then it was. 

When Mr. Boccuzzi’s voice came out over the intercom at 10:27 a.m. to announce a school-wide lockdown, Aanika T. ’25 was finishing up a Spanish quiz on the bottom floor of Moore. Students who had finished their quiz early were hanging around outside; faculty rushed out to get them back indoors. Katherine S. ’23 was just two floors up, finishing up a moot court simulation for history; she continued to do so during the lockdown. Connor C. ’25 was standing in the locker room, getting ready for P.E.; alongside the rest of his classmates, they huddled in the center of the room. Faculty stuck on the fourth floor of Bliss quickly realized they had no bathroom.

The Seattle Times Education Lab says that this year marks a record high of school shootings in Washington: the one at Ingraham High School marks the 41st school shooting this year that resulted in injuries or death. What happened on the morning of Nov. 8 raised important questions about the state of gun policy and education in the U.S., but it also raised important questions about the state of Lakeside’s lockdown policy. 

According to Mr. Boccuzzi, a lockdown is usually initiated by a team of administrators, including Dr. Bynum and Mr. Boccuzzi himself. However, when the threat is much more imminent, such as an on-campus threat, then any member of staff in Bliss can initiate lockdown. On Nov. 8th, the police contacted Lakeside, prompting the lockdown.  

When it comes to actually extending that information to students, the communications office, where I happened to be during the lockdown, sends emails and text messages, and a lockdown can also be communicated using the P.A. system and outdoor speakers. For areas of campus that are harder to reach that don’t have a P.A system in place, there are people designated to sweep those areas.

However, spreading word of lockdown through text messages isn’t always feasible, which Mr. Boccuzzi said is in part due to the fact that students aren’t on their phones during class. He also acknowledged feedback he got from students who didn’t receive messages despite being signed up for them. 

It quickly became clear that Lakeside’s lockdown policy varies quite a bit from what one would consider traditional lockdown policy in part due to the school’s layout.“We are much more like a college campus than a traditional one-building high school, so that presents totally different challenges,” Mr. Boccuzzi noted. Buildings on campus vary, and therefore the lockdown policies vary for each building as well. “Different schools have very different needs…What is pretty uniform is being able to quickly and comprehensively communicate with everyone and that everyone knows what they should be doing.” 

‘We are much more like a college campus than a traditional one-building high school, so that presents totally different challenges,’ Mr. Bocuzzi noted. ”

But it also became clear that perhaps not everyone “knows what they should be doing” when it comes to lockdowns, considering Lakeside had not had a lockdown drill this year. In fact, just later this month, Lakeside was planning on hosting its first lockdown drill of the year, after hosting its earthquake and fire drills in the previous months. 

Mr. Boccuzzi touched upon the issue of timing regarding drills: “Do we need to think about if it needs to be even earlier than that? That’s a good question, and that’s something for us to talk about as an administrative team.”  

Another important safety consideration the school has to make when considering lockdown policy is the lack of fences. While Mr. Boccuzzi explained having a closed fence (like the one at Lakeside’s Middle School) definitely helps with security, it would be tricky to place in the Upper School, especially considering having one on campus would detract from the “college” feel he mentioned earlier.

However, no matter the precautions we take, there is always unpredictability. As Mr. Boccuzzi put it, “There’s the reality that you can’t be 100% percent prepared for everything… we can just be prepared to be able to adapt and that comes with practice.”