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Linn-Mar parents take part in active shooter drill

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On the heels of the 11th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting that took the lives of 32 people and also the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre coming up this week, The Linn-Mar Community School District offered an active shooter drill and presentation to parents.

While their children go through these drills regularly and almost instantly know what to do, parents often only have a vague idea of how the district operates in case of an emergency. Linn-Mar follows a new system called ALICE. The acronym spells, alert, lock down, inform, counter and evacuate. Where in the past, a school would wait for police to arrive and just lock everyone in the building, ALICE encourages a more active approach including fighting back, barricading and running from the shooter.

"We want to train as many people as we can if you are in that really bad situation," Tom Daubs of the Marion Police Department said. " I am doing 20 to 30 of these a year teaching people what you can do to promote the ability to survive and to make yourself a harder target rather than a softer target in a situation we hope never happens."

For the school district, this is an opportunity to help parents understand what they are doing to protect kids if an active shooter situation should happen. Linn-Mar has four trained teachers that specifically instruct based on the ALICE method and they conduct active shooter training twice a year. Parent University, the event tonight's session is part of, is offered two to three times a school year. Because it is topic based discussion, today's event was an opportunity to really show how important this issue is.

"This is such an important topic to parents, student safety and the well-being of our staff is our utmost priority," Matthew May, communications director with the school district said. "The principals of ALICE can be applied in any kind of situation related to an active shooter. It teaches us, assess the situation and react appropriately. Unfortunately we learned too many lessons since Columbine but now we are doing things differently.

For parents, this truly is an opportunity to see first hand what their kids would do if a life threatening situation would occur at Linn-Mar. Felicity Wolfe has a child in kindergarten and often wonders about safety and security at school.

"I really came here because I know that my son has been through the training, I don't know exactly what it is and I really want to get better information on what the school has developed," Wolfe said.

Sarah Hoke a parent and a teacher in Marion, says while she doesn't teach at Linn-Mar she herself has gone through ALICE training and actively practiced in it at her school. She believes this is the best possible method to deter a possible threat, while protecting students in her care.

"I just want to make sure I have a good understanding about what their plan is.," Hoke said. " It works because it's not just one method we follow, there is a ton of situations and this gives you a lot of different ideas of what you can do in each situation."

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