Colby School District loops parents, community in on active shooter drill planning process

COLBY, Wis. (WSAW) -- Tuesday morning, staff in the Colby School District had a meeting about ALICE, not a person, but an acronym. It stands for Alert, Lock down, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. It's an active shooter drill.

Staff in the Colby School District have a planning meeting for ALICE training (WSAW photo)

Dr. Steven Kolden, the superintendent for Colby, said the planning is important and not unique to just his district.

"I don't think parents and community members really understand all of the thought that goes into it," he said.

The drill planning involved school principals, counselors and the school resource officer, Patrick Leichnam.

"It's important that the staff are trained universally, the students are trained universally, and they know what to do and they also know what to do when law enforcement shows up to something like that," Leichnam explained.

A big part of their discussions is planning for different scenarios.

"We talked about classrooms, lunches, when kids are passing in the halls," said Kolden.

Marcia Diedrich, the principal at Colby High School, said she is proud of the district for creating the scenarios that unfortunately exist across the country.

"We've prepared out students in many different ways," she said.

The drills are tailored for different ages. For high schoolers, using a blank gun that mimics the sound of gunshots, and for the younger ones, Kolden said they're conversations that cater to their mental development, like stories they recognize.

"Conversations about, sometimes bad wolves will try to get the sheep. The sheep, which are the students, will follow the shepherd which will lead them to safety."

Even unannounced drills are a big component.

"If we get too lax, then we're not going to practice the way we should,' Leichnam explained.

"You don't want to scare kids, but it's also a reality of something that we deal with," added Kolden.

The conversation continues, even after the drill is over. Staff and students are all debriefed.

"We always run student surveys and staff surveys afterwards. What did you learn? What can we do better?" Kolden said.

Staff say these are skills that last a lifetime.

"Providing an overall education that's going to take them out of our building into their future," Diedrich said.

Dr. Kolden said before drills, the district will send mass notifications via email or text message so parents know a drill is happening.