Loud noise sends classroom into lockdown

Combating Intolerance class prepares for the worst amid shooter scare


Photo courtesy of Nate Fimbres

The blue hallway in McLean High School. Students in B186 had just finished a Holocaust film when they heard a noise that sent them into active shooter lock down.

Lia Vincenzo, Reporter

The day began as normal, no different from any other. Students were sitting in their first period Highlander Time class on Friday Oct. 11, with no indication of what was to come.

That morning, in room B186, the Combating Intolerance class had just finished watching Schindler’s List, when a loud bang followed by a blood-curdling scream chilled them to the bone.

 “Our first instinct was that there was an active shooter outside our door and the whole class jumped and ran to the back corner of the room, safest from what we thought was a shooter,” senior Akshitha Kalavakonda said.

Years of preparation and active shooter drills meant that everyone was ready for action. Her teacher, Julia Braxton, rushed to cover the door window with paper and turned off all the lights in her classroom.

“Some people pushed the couch in front of the door as extra protection,” Kalavakonda said.

Then it was quiet. Huddled in the back corner students sobbed silently and frantically messaged their loved ones.

“It was silent, except for a couple of people who were sniffing and crying. You could hear the guy calling the police and you could hear Ms. Braxton’s keys jingling as she locked the door and kids were telling her to stop and be quieter with [them]. It was like we were all holding our breath,” senior Rebecca Blacksten said. “I just remember thinking, ‘What if I died here?’”

The students in B186 didn’t know what was going on in the rest of the school, but were frightened for the students who had been left in the hallways.

“I was thinking about all the [dead] people… I would see once I walked out the door,” Kalavakonda said.

Now it is known that the ‘bang’ the occupants of room B186 heard was a door slamming. No one is sure what caused the scream that followed it. Some speculate that it was horseplay in the hallway or a student’s reaction to banging their head into a vending machine. Whatever the cause, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the instinctual reaction of those involved.

“The scariest thing, for me at least, wasn’t the incident itself, but rather the fact that our first instinct to a door slamming is that it’s a gunshot and not another possibility,” Kalavakonda said.

The reactions of the students highlight a problem occurring the last two decades, where the number of school shootings has been growing.

“We shouldn’t have to freak out about a shooter being in our school… that’s not how we should be spending our highschool careers,” Blacksten said. “We need to make sure that everybody is protected… and that everyone should feel safe to be in their schools.”