The AHS security team: better safe than sorry

They say you never know when disaster will strike, but our best defense against any unexpected event is the team of experts in charge who can handle the situation and restore order to a 3,000-person building. This is the sole responsibility of the AHS crisis management team, which handles everything from school safety and security and lock down drills to security steps in case of major situations such as shootings, stabbings, etc.

The person ultimately in charge in case of any security threat to the school or students is the incident commander, Principal John Ponton.

“Since I am held accountable for everything that happens at AHS, it becomes my responsibility to get on the PA system, and assure the students and teachers to maintain order,” Ponton said.

“After my announcements, I am somewhat in the same position as the students–if we are on lock down mode, I cannot leave my room either. Officer Ferraris and Mr. Tippins regularly keep me updated about the situation outside my office,” he said.

The next step in the hierarchy are Chris Tippins and Michael Ferraris, Safety and Security Specialist and Student Resource Officer respectively. Both these officers form the eyes and ears of the incident manager in case of a crisis. While Ponton is the link to the county and educational services, Ferraris is the liaison between the school and the police department.

The AHS crisis management team includes (from left) Principal John Ponton, Safety and Security Specialist Chris Tippins, and Security Assistants Anthony Harper, KW Williams and Kenny Williams (not shown here).

“It is our responsibility to stay tuned to the situation–we wait for more information and keep the administration informed about whatever happens,” said Ferraris. “Since crisis management is an ever-evolving situation, it is important to have everyone on board with what is going on,” he said.

The administration’s primary link with the students themselves are the three AHS Security Assistants – Kenny Williams, KW Williams, and Anthony Harper. While they have different responsibilities in different situations and drills, their primary objective is to ensure that the students are under adult supervision, the hallways are clear and that everyone is generally where they are supposed to be.

Aside from these crisis management roles, the security assistants play an even more important role in the AHS community.

“We work as mediators too, making sure the students have someone to talk to if something is bothering them,” said KW Williams. “We listen to them, counsel them, and try our best to diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand.”

With such an excellent crisis management team, AHS’s safety and security remains assured even in the face of potentially dangerous situation.

“Even though some people in the building may not take our drills and safety procedures seriously now, the [students] know we are acting in their best interest, and they appreciate that,” Ponton said.