Recognizing Safety and Security at Alvirne High School

January 18, 2019

 

by Len Lathrop

While residents of Hudson love the town and know this community, bad things can happen even here, making school safety one of the most important issues that the school board addressed as plans for renovation and additions at Alvirne are developed.

Recognizing that importance, the state has studied and provides support for safety issues. The State of New Hampshire, under the School Safety Preparedness Task Force established by Governor Christopher T. Sununu in March of 2018, offered a comprehensive report about school safety in June of 2018 making recommendations in seven different areas of student safety and overall well being. One of the major sections of their review focused on the facilities. Hudson was visited by the review team led by Task Force Chair Perry Plummer, director of New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Following the report, Hudson received in two grants in excess of $500,000 for new glass in all school entrances and improved security measures.

As design work is under way for renovations of the 200 Derry Road facility, the direction of the school committee pointed to improvement in security and safety at Alvirne. The architects, working with the administration of the school and with faculty and staff, are pleased to show the readers a ”hats off” look at the floor plan and what it addresses.

Following the numbers in the rendering, number 1 signifies the main entrance everyone where enters the school’s locked doors with digital communication and good sight lines into a secure vestibule allowing for verification and communication with administrative staff and a security officer. The number 2 indicates security cameras covering all entrances and building approaches. These units also cover the inside of the campus from lobbies and corridors.

Another issue of the homeland report was the need for vehicular impediments, while the current Alvirne main entrance at the Steckevicz has granite posts in the new design. The main entrance for the high school and the restaurant entrance and the CTE entrance in the Palmer CTE Center will have large granite blocks that will impede cars from driving into the building. They also will serve as student and visitor seating. When looking at the door, athletic and other events in the new building will have a separate entrance on the field side of the building. Additionally, there will be a concession stand for fan needs and a bathroom just inside the door; the hallway of the school will be closed from this entrance.

If you have driven to Alvirne currently you understand the parking lot confusion. The proposed changes would include separate pathways for both the buses and a driveway line for parents to drop off students on a sidewalk leading directly to the main entrance. This busy area would have a covering and also a concealed security block as seen by number 3 in the diagram.

While the consolidated entrance is a single point of entrance for everyone once inside the school meeting area, numbers 7 and 8 allow staff to meet with visitors and minimize visitor-student interactions. Key staff offices are located in direct connection to the initial reception area, and note that all door hardware offers modern security standards, allowing lock downs and a security mode.

As Hudson prepares for the most important project in this community since the high school was rebuilt after the fire in 1974, the administrator and the committee responsible for the plans are looking at everything that might be needed to bring Alvirne High School into a 21st century facility.