Is Pinewood Prepared?

With mass shootings on the rise, lockdown drills equip students for the unimaginable


Sophia Yao

Safety measures like these help the Pinewood community effectively respond to emergency situations

Annabelle Eaton, News Writer

What started out with fireworks, festivities, and celebrations for the Lunar New Year instead ended with shots fired and 11 dead. This was the scene of the Monterey Park shooting — only one of three mass shootings in the Bay Area since the start of the year. 

In the first month and a half, more than 70 mass shootings have been reported nationwide, eight of which were school shootings. As the threat of gun violence moves closer to home, Pinewood must now consider how the issue affects Pinewood’s campus.

“This is not just a California issue, it’s a national issue,” Head of Upper Campus Gabriel Lemmon said. “I think the leading cause of death for [children] used to be car accidents. Now, it is gun violence.”

Although Pinewood has never experienced a school shooting nor had the threat of a school shooter, the administration must deal with the possibility of gun violence at school as the problem is exacerbated. Lemmon said that Pinewood has scheduled lockdown drills, but does not plan to hold additional drills in light of recent shootings.

“We do a good job of training [administration] to do the right thing,” Lemmon said. “But, with gun violence, there is no simple way to prevent it.”

It was during his time teaching in Mexico when Lemmon began to recognize the international perception of gun violence in the United States. 

Featuring Gabriel Lemmon (Makena Matula)

“My friends in Mexico said, ‘we’re scared for you because you’re going to work at a school in the United States,’” Lemmon said. “They said that, in the United States, schools are where people get killed.”

Although Mexico has higher rates of violence and crime, they do not have the same types of mass shootings that are unique to the United States.

“Compared to most any industrialized country, we’re in a different playing field when it comes to gun violence,” Lemmon said. 

As the threat of a school shooting grows, so does the fear within our own Pinewood community. 

“[Shootings have] happened everywhere else, and it could happen here,” seventh grader Aadya Kumar said. “It’s not a ‘what-if’ game anymore.” 

At the same time, many other Pinewood students feel that school shootings are a possibility, but highly unlikely given Pinewood’s location and clean record. 

“I feel like in this area there aren’t many people who would do it,” seventh grader Amani Lee-Seyon said. “But, it’s possible.”

Head of School Scott Riches said that Pinewood has a clear plan in place in the event of a shooter on campus and that teachers are aware of the procedures. Riches noted that Pinewood has telephones in every classroom as well as an all-alert system that will notify everyone in the event of danger. 

“We’ve received guidance from security experts, even law enforcement, and we’ve shared these best practices with the teachers,” Riches said.