“Lockdown”: How safe are our schools?


This Sunday, January 15, the first rehearsal for a quiet, rather unknown competition happened at DHS. The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) Competition is little known to anyone outside of the theater company, and little known within, but it remains one of the largest competitions in the region for high school theater and is a big deal for the few who participate. Directed by students, they get a little less than two months to memorize the script and build the sets, and what comes out is a competition that can lead on to semi-finals, and then finals. This year at DHS, the two student directors, seniors Lauren Lima and Isabel Lavoie chose Lockdown by Douglas Craven.

Lockdown runs for about 30 minutes with nine characters in the cast, including a teacher, a 9th-grade student, and then seven other students. The story takes place during a school lockdown, in which the students huddle and discuss their fears, as well as random other events within the high school with each other. Each student’s character is portrayed as drastically different, and panic ensues when the fire alarm goes off. The 9th grade girl bolts, and the teacher goes after her, leaving the students to worry among themselves. The show ends inconclusively, with the students cornered in their class as someone they don’t know menacingly knocks on the door. It’s a chilling end, as we don’t know if the students survived or not.

The entire play was written to be disturbing.

The entire play was written to be disturbing. The students speak morbidly of what could happen to them, coping with crying, distraction, and humor all mixed into one show that, when you step back at it and look at it widely, it highlights the real problem that plagues our country today. How children, somewhere as safe as school, could end up like “hunted animals,” as said in the show.

“Kids in our generation are so desensitized to school shootings and a lack of gun control,” said Lima when asked about their choice of Lockdown for the METG Competition this year. “They’re terrorist attacks, but we make jokes about it. I want to show the watchers that it’s not something funny, and it can affect anyone.”

Between 2009 and 2018, there were a total of 180 school shootings, according to CNN. Then in 2019, according to a CNN article again, there were 45 shootings within 46 weeks. The numbers dipped in 2020 due to COVID, with only 10 shootings including victims, but then they reached a historic high in 2021, with 93 school shootings; then in 2022, there were over 300 school shootings. In 2023, there have been 4 so far as of January 19.

It’s an absolutely disturbing fact, seeing how it seems to be on a gradual incline each year, and each time, it’s baffling how it could have possibly happened. In most schools, security has been increased, hiring more and more security personnel, as well as putting in place the ALICE drill. However, without any real way to make sure students aren’t carrying a weapon, these incidents could happen anywhere. Just last year in DHS a student who had been removed from the school entered it again with no issue and spent the entire day wandering the school without being found out, just to test if he could. He didn’t pose a threat, but he did uncover the fact that it’s just so easy to enter these high schools when you’re not a student.

So what do we do? Do we get rid of guns entirely and abolish the second amendment? Do we tighten the restrictions on gun licenses even more? How do we stop kids from taking their parents’ guns and doing unthinkable things with them?

The answer isn’t so certain, and it’s unclear if the question will ever have a clear answer as the people in government fight over this issue. They want their guns, but they want their kids safe. Can that reality even co-exist? It leads students to wonder how much authority really cares for these issues and their lives. 

“They’re choosing guns over kids,” said Lavoie. “These are children. There shouldn’t be a debate.”

Lockdown will be performed at Attleboro High School on March 4, 2023. Tickets will be 15 dollars for whoever wants to go see it.