The exercise was performed with the precision of a drill team.
About 800 elementary and middle school students at Ecole John Stubbs exited the school Wednesday afternoon in an orderly fashion within a matter of minutes while a large group of parents waited patiently behind a security line to register to pick up children in their care.
All schools in the Sooke School District practice reunification drills throughout the year, and that’s especially important at a larger school such as Ecole John Stubbs, explained Ravi Parmar, chair of the Sooke School Board. “It helps students and staff and parents get thinking about how to be prepared in the event of a disaster,” he noted. “Releasing more than 700 kids isn’t easy, but everyone involved, parents, teachers, and students, really benefit from the drill and learn about the procedure. It gets parents thinking about how to prepare in the event of a disaster. The goal is to keep calm and connect students with their parent or guardian in the most efficient manner possible.”
Ecole John Stubbs principal Sandra Szalipszki said the drill underlines the importance of teaching the children to be prepared for any kind of emergency. “We really appreciate the parents who could help today,” she added. “It’s also a really good reminder for parents to work on their own evacuation plan at home and how that may connect with the school.”
Naim Zandieh, a 14-year-old Grade 7 student, said doing the drill once a year enables the school to test security systems and be aware of how everyone’s getting home. “It’s good practice in the event of a real emergency,” he added.
Liliana Fisher, an 11-year-old Grade 5 student, said the drill is a great way to see how fast the students are in case there’s an actual emergency. “Having the parents behind a security cable is a good idea to make sure no one winds up with a stranger and everyone gets home with who they’re supposed to.”
John Corkill, who was picking up his grandchildren, agreed the drill is a great idea, but said he hopes organizers can find a way to speed up the registration process.