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Bogue Chitto school parents join security efforts

Bogue Chitto parents and supporters are hoping the attendance center will soon have Barracuda security systems for all doors in the school. First, they must raise the funds to purchase the devices.

A parent-led initiative has established an account at State Bank where supporters can donate. Donations are also being accepted via PayPal. Similar efforts at Loyd Star and West Lincoln took place last year.

Facebook posts and other social media efforts have gotten the word out among the parents of Bogue Chitto students.

“As school safety is brought to our attention more and more… parents of Bogue Chitto Attendance Center desire the best protection for our children,” parent volunteer Becca Guynes wrote about the fundraising effort. “The goal is to install Barracuda Locking Systems on each classroom door on campus.  You can send donations directly via PayPal or give donations to Sally Simpson into the BC Fundraising account set up at State Bank.” 

Barracuda systems for other local schools have cost approximately $5,700. Bogue Chitto Principal Scott Merrell expects the system to run about $6,000 uninstalled for his campus. The system will be installed on about 50 doors.

“When you’re in a hurry and you’re panicked, it’s a very simple device to use,” he said.

In May of 2018 the Lincoln County School Board voted to accept the donation of the first Barracuda Locking System, which had been offered to West Lincoln by concerned parents and community members following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The board voted to accept a similar donation from Loyd Star parents. 

Bogue Chitto now stands ready to follow suit.

“We live in this kind of world nowadays, and it’s incumbent on the school to do everything we can to try to  protect our teachers and our students as much as we possibly can,” Merrell said.

The Barracuda System is a steel, locking device designed to protect classroom doors against unwanted openings. With flat, steel bars that slide underneath doors and expand outward to grasp door frames the doors are locked into place with a pin, preventing it from swinging open.

West Lincoln Principal John Shows said previously that he’s been satisfied with the 52 Barracudas currently in place at his school. Most of the security systems are mounted on the walls behind classroom doors for easy access for both teachers and students when needed.

“I had a couple of my coaches, bigger guys, try to open the doors, and they couldn’t get in,” he said. 

He said school officials tested the devices during summer lockdown drills last year and found they take around 10 seconds to deploy and stood up to pressure. 

“We used them once and they worked well. Even if it gives you two or three more minutes, that’s extra protection for your students,” said Shows.

Merrell said the Bogue Chitto campus is open with no “real barriers” to keep visitors from going to various buildings without checking in at the office.

“We have been very fortunate not to have any kind of issue with people coming on to our campus who aren’t supposed to be there but that doesn’t mean that it won’t ever happen,” he said. “And in the event that some strange thing happens where anyone intends harm to any child or teacher at my campus, it gives me peace of mind to know that they can very simply, within seconds, secure their door and at least impede the process of someone trying to cause issues.”

Story by Micah Rutland