Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Local high school well prepared for terrorist attack

by Joseph "J-Lo" (writer), Houston, October 03, 2007

“I’m on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center. We just had an explosion up here…oh, I’m going to die, aren’t I?”

That is a small fraction of the 911 call transcripts placed from trapped victims inside the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 2001, transcripts that were later released to the public.

Although Houston is over a thousand miles away from the Big Apple, many locals were affected by that day’s events and tragedies – events and tragedies that caught many Houstonians, and at the same time many students in CCISD, wondering of the possibility of a similar emergency occurring right here in Harris County.

“My family and friends were really worried that Houston could be a next big hit because we have a lot of really big things here,” senior Ethan Levine said.

Nearly two thousand days after 9/11, schools nationwide have changed the ways they view an “emergency” and many schools have changed their policies on emergency procedures in the event one occurs, whether near-by or on-campus.

Following suit, CCISD is ensuring safety is a top priority on the agenda in planning for the coming school years.

But when exactly did reports begin coming up regarding Houston’s proximity to a possible attack and why does it matter? Is CLHS really prepared in the event of an event similar to Sept. 11?
“It’s crazy, but even after all this time, people still talk about terror attacks here in Houston, I see it all the time on the news,” senior Steven Kaltenbach said.

The articles began popping up around the five-year anniversary of 9/11 – articles informing of reports and other general ‘talk’ that Houston could be the next location of a terrorist attack against America.

Some television news reports claimed that Al-Qaida cells were already alive and well in the greater Houston area. Others stated that an attack on Houston was not simply a question of “if,” but “when.”

The question placed on the minds of Houstonians was, “why?” Why would Al-Qaida consider a Texas city known for a championship soccer team and award-winning chili?

The majority of reports placed emphasis on the Gulf Coast’s ties to oil, gas, and the endless miles of the Port of Houston on the city’s east side. Plus, Houston’s population is growing fast. Houston’s metro area now claims home to five and a half million people and in addition is the fifth fastest growing city in America.

“I remember last year really well. Right at the five-year mark of the attacks on 9/11, everyone was talking about Houston being a next target because of all the oil and gas we have here,” junior Randy Swilley said.

Despite the panic that came attached to the reports, calmness was evident in schools. Schools county-wide and beyond were faced with the new task of putting a plan in their safety books in the event of a terror attack – something that many originally had not had to even think about, let alone have a detailed plan set in stone for.

In the event of a terrorist attack occurring near-by, CLHS is prepared to lockdown the entire school to keep students in a safe location, such as a classroom, and hold on further instruction from district officials. (As a student would a fire drill, do expect a ‘lockdown drill’ to be practiced in the near future)

Additionally, they have created a district-wide guidebook to be prepared in the event that an emergency occurs, whether tornado or terror, and outlines how to handle the procedure properly.

Should the need arise; CCISD has even prepared a full evacuation for CLHS students and staff by means of school buses. In the event that occurs, all persons would be transported to another location within the district.
Communication between the school, students and parents and guardians has been an issue that some students, and most parents worry about in the event an emergency would occur.

“It’s kind of unrealistic to think that in all that chaos, the school can… tell thousands and thousands of parents about what’s going on,” junior Randy Swilley said.

But CLHS has taken a stance to ensure communication is very proactive. In addition to official district website,, which would provide constant updates, CCISD has a district-wide telephone call-out system that allows the district to contact parents, thousands of them, in a short amount of time. CCISD also has the capability to setup an exclusive “1-800” telephone number for up-to-the-minute news on the district’s plans.

However, even with all of these measures in-place, CCISD exerts a large influence on its students. From delivering written letters to parents and guardians or notifying parents, via “student help”, CLHS can even further ensure greater clarity with parents.
After hearing these plans and preparations, students around CLHS claimed that they do feel safe and secure.

“Oh, yeah, knowing all that does make me feel a lot safer,” Swilley said.

“It’s really great that they do actually care about the safety of their students, but I think students need to know what to do in the event something happens, and not just hold all this information with the staff,” Kaltenbach said.
While the district attempts to be prepared for everything possible, unfortunately “we cannot predict an emergency,” said Dr. Moran. But when questioned if he feels that CLHS is doing its best in preparedness for an emergency, he replied “absolutely!”

The preluding article is Joseph Lopez' latest piece for his local high school's (Clear Lake High School) newspaper, Lake Reflections.
Joseph "J-Lo" Lopez is a high school Senior at Clear Lake High School, Lake Reflections Staff Writer and freelance writer, On-Air Personality for 89.7 KACC, and anchor for CLHS's morning news program, Falcon Four

About the Writer

Joseph "J-Lo" is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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