By Selwyn Harris
Pahrump Valley High School is taking steps to make the campus safer by enacting a “one way in” policy for students, faculty members, and visitors during regular school hours.
Though the policy is taking place not long after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the school already had plans in the works to make the campus more secure.
At present, some students are taking classes at Great Basin College, which forces them to leave the main building and walk a short distance to the college campus, said Principal Max Buffi.
“It’s not really a new policy but over the Christmas holidays we are going to move our people out of the college. We have two teachers and we are going to move them back into the new building and the classes they teach. From that point on, our students won’t have to leave our campus to go to the college. With that in mind, the philosophy behind the building that was built for us was more security, so we will be locking all of the doors coming from the outside into the buildings and into the courtyard once the tardy bell rings in the morning. The only door that will be open for the public to come in will be the main door here in the main office in the building out front,” he said.
Visitors, students, and families were able to see the new design of the school during a grand reopening last month.
Prior to the renovation and remodel, students, and even visitors, were able to gain access to the facility by using several entrances aside from the main entrance.
With the new design, visitors and students will enter the building where access to classrooms will be monitored by office staff.
Locked doors will greet any visitor who enters the main entrance with office staff separated by a glass partition in the foyer.
Buffi noted that the action would not be a terrible inconvenience for students and visitors once the change takes place.
“Kids won’t have to go outside anymore. We will still have our PE classes outside and the teachers have keys to let them back into the building but anybody wanting to get into our building will need to use the front entrance and check-in at the office. It’s all about security and just so we’ll know who is on the campus and where they are going. This was not prompted by the tragedy in Connecticut. This was four years ago when we started planning the new design of the school. We were talking about security and safety. Will it be an inconvenience for some people? Not really because people should understand why we are doing this,” he said.
Students and faculty can also feel safer due to the presence of a uniformed Nye County Sheriff’s Deputy on campus.
Buffi said the deputy is a regular fixture at the school.
“He is on campus most of the time but with budget cutbacks that have happened not only in the school district but within the Nye County Sheriff’s Office as well. The have had to cutback the amount of deputies we have. We now have two in the district. They are great people to work with and they are here as much as they can possibly be. Deputy Boulden and Deputy Dugan really care about the kids and you can see it in they way they work. One thing that I have seen is Sergeant Carlos Rivera from the NHP does stop by. They want to become more active with our students and campus and we are welcoming that. The sheriff’s department has also been sending some of their deputies through at times just to do walk-throughs and become more familiar with the site. I love having law enforcement on campus,” he said.
Regarding the Connecticut tragedy, Buffi said his thoughts are with the families of the six adults and 20 students who were systematically gunned down last Friday.
“Everybody here knows how tragic that was. Everybody was saddened to see something like that happen in our great nation. My staff have been troopers. They’ve carried with their jobs and they have been here for the students and themselves available to answer any questions the students have. We have kept an eye on our students because we care about them, I have much gratitude for our staff. I couldn’t work with a better staff. From what I’ve heard all across Nye County, all of our staffs did the same thing. I have four very professional counselors on campus that are always available to students. If a student needed counseling, the teachers know they can send them to the counselor. The teachers and the counselors are there for the kids and they do their jobs,” he said.