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      Lockdown 101

      This is something students and faculty never want to have to do for real, but frequent rehearsals for fire drills and lockdowns are unfortunately a much-needed safety requirement these days.

      Students are used to doing the eight fire drills per school year required by law. Recently, lawmakers have added two required lockdown drills to the mix. Colleges and universities get a pass on this requirement.

      But in February 2011, Northern Michigan University did experience a real lockdown, due to an Internet threat.

      The university tests its emergency alarms every month, exceeding the mandatory semi-annual check, and that's not all.

      "We are implementing a new alarm system in about a dozen of our buildings this upcoming summer. It'll take about a year to install the full system over the 12 buildings, and that system will have a dual lighting system," said Cindy Paavola, Director of Communications at NMU.

      Most faculty have gone or plan to go through active shooter training as well.

      At NICE Community Schools, faculty and students have been paying close attention to the recent school shootings.

      "We've ramped up the lockdown procedures. As a matter of fact, this coming Friday, our middle school and elementary school teachers are going through an active shooter training over at the Aspen Ridge building, and our high school staff actually completed that training this summer, so it's something that's been on our minds a lot," said Bryan DeAugustine, Superintendent of NICE Community Schools.

      DeAugustine said that there are actually plenty of great hiding places in any school. Hiding inside closets or cubicles, behind large pieces of furniture, or under a recycling or trash can, are a few places that may save a life. Hiding underneath a desk or getting into a cupboard and closing the door are a couple of ways that students can learn to keep themselves safe.

      If you have a school-age child or are a teacher, one important thing to remember when discussing lockdown drills with them is to get your point across, without frightening them.

      "We do try to stress that if something happens where there is an emergency at school that they need to follow their teacher's directions, and that students need to make sure that they go somewhere where they can be safe, where they can be quiet, and they can be out of sight. We try to do it without scaring them, but at the same time making sure that they go to a secure location," DeAugustine said.

      Some students have even made suggestions to school officials regarding some different ways to keep classrooms looking empty, should a lockdown occur.