Students from a Pottstown high school create school safety device

POTTSTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- The Advanced Engineering Design class at Owen J. Roberts High School in Pottstown built devices to secure their classroom doors during an emergency.

Their design includes accessible tools and relatively cost-effective materials, according to junior Camryn Cooper.

"This is something that is affecting people our age around the country, so to have our input just really meant a lot to all of us," she said.

Principal Ken Napaver thought the concept was a good opportunity to get students involved and use the skills they have learned.

"We're constantly having meetings around how to make ourselves and our school safer for everyone, and this was an opportunity to make a positive spin on it as well," said Napaver.

The idea for a lockdown device was first conceived last year. Then this year, over the course of nine weeks, eight students led by technology teacher Bill Crowl, developed a design that would secure doors from the inside. That involved overcoming certain challenges.

"One of the standard policies is to barricade the door, but in a public space, the doors open out, so that becomes an issue for us in a classroom setting," Crowl explained.

Senior Mackenzie Batyko added, "Each of the doors are different sizes, so we knew we had to go through and individually measure each door."

The students produced roughly 115 lockdown devices, tailored to specific doors. They are now being implemented in lockdown drills.

The Director of Security and Safety for Owen J Roberts School District, Brandon Daniels, appreciated the students tackling this challenge head-on.

"They developed the idea. They were involved, and really that's a huge part of security. We're always telling people, 'see something, say something'. 'Be involved in your own security and your own protection', and that's exactly what this is," he said.

The school is fine-tuning plans that would give others the ability to modify the devices for their own environments. They hope to eventually release the designs for free to other interested schools.
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