Column: ALICE Training, a grim reality, but a necessary first step


Last Wednesday, students and staff alike gathered in Naperville North’s NPAC for a briefing on ALICE, District 203’s newly-adopted response protocol for active shooter events.

Although the presentation was a short briefing of the protocol’s underlying rules (along with a recorded demonstration), the auditorium’s air felt heavy and stiff, a marked departure from the flippant aura surrounding typical school assemblies. Though certain moments elicited muffled snickers, the room was largely silent. It wasn’t the phones-out, AirPods-in, couldn’t-care-less type of silence, either. Students’ eyes seemed locked on the videos in front of them, a sign of recognition that what they were viewing was literally a matter of life and death.

Two days after the assemblies, students were informed each period about the protocol if an intruder were to enter that specific classroom or the building. Some teachers explained the training they had completed earlier in the year, which included videos, conversations with police and live training simulations. The ALICE Training is not quite complete, as students can expect follow-up practice in the future. However, students need not worry about a future simulation-type training, according to Naperville North Principal Stephanie Posey.

“At this time, there is no plan for North to include a live simulation of an intruder, only drill-type training and discussion,” Posey said.

Live simulation or not, what does ALICE Training mean for North? From our perspective, it’s a step in the right direction. According to an article from BBC News, 94 gun-related incidents occurred in U.S. school settings throughout 2018, the highest number recorded in figures going back to 1970. ALICE Training is a clear sign that Naperville North administration views its students as capable young adults deserving of straight talk and clear language. And if the ALICE briefing is any indication, students are willing to sit up and pay attention when it matters most.

Of course, it seems ludicrous that we, a group of adolescents who largely can’t vote, are being actively trained to stop an armed intruder. The topic of ALICE briefings raises other questions, too; namely, why is ALICE Training only beginning this year? The response protocol is not perfect, but it is an improvement from the past. It seems our school is taking steps to avoid simply becoming a statistic.