School Violence: The Series

Alice Training


Infographic by Samantha Woodford

Do you know what it’s like to be shot at? It’s panicking and freezing. It’s running. It’s stepping over people you’ve gone to school with your entire life, not knowing if they’re dead,” said Hailey Case, a freshman during the shooting at Marshall County High School in Kentucky. On January 23, 2018 Gabe Parker killed two and injured 18 others.

The first emotion felt by students in situations like this is panic. But don’t freeze; it’s one of the worst things to do in this situation. A program called ALICE was put into action in the Pottsville Area School District in the fall of 2018 to help students and faculty know what to do instead.

ALICE is a research based program that uses information from previous critical incidents. This system encourages students and faculty to put time and distance between themselves and the violent intruder.

The acronym A.L.I.C.E means: Alert, Lock Down, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

Senior Noah Fredericks said, “This training made me feel more prepared if something like this were to happen. I believe that this was a very helpful safety procedure for the school to go over. I think that knowing what to do in any emergency makes me feel safer in the school in general.”

According to a criminal investigator with the Pennsylvania State Police who specializes in violent crime and school violence, “Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.”

For students, the goal is to protect themselves. In this moment each has to make a decision.

Senior Isabella Myers said, “My advice is to follow the ALICE system that has been put into place. It might sound stupid at first, but when you are in a dangerous situation it can save your as well as other’s lives.”

The first step of this procedure is Alert. An alert can come from a witness, PA announcement, phone alert or even gunfire.

When the alert is made, locking down or finding a way out of the building is next. If there is no way to get out of the building, barricading the door with classroom objects such as desks, chairs and cabinets is one way to stay safe. After barricading the door look for alternate exits such as doors and windows.

While being locked down there should be information being dispersed as to what is happening, who is doing it, where it is happening, when it is happening and how.

The next step is Counter. If there is absolutely no way to get out and there is an encounter with the perpetrator, what do you do? This is when you counter them. This is when everyday classroom objects become distractions. By distracting the perpetrator, you could waste enough time for people to get out of the building and or stop the perpetrator entirely.

The last step is to Evacuate. When you know you can escape, escape. When you leave the establishment, find a safe place to stay until the authorities have assured you that everything is alright.

The ALICE program doesn’t mandate a set of actions that must be followed but simply suggests  options that give the best chance of safety. In the event of an incident, use these options instead of panicking to figure out what is best at the time.

To learn more about media coverage on school violence, come back next week for story number five, “How Media Portrays School Shootings.”