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School Safety, Students Find Solutions

FFA Leaders Manufacture Door Lock

The semester ended far differently than it began. No one will forget the first day of the 2018-19 Luther School Year when it began last August. The incident that drew a national audience to little Luther would not let go for days and days, while an investigation proceeded and the media pounced. But LPS moved forward. The classes. The football games. The band contests. The FFA activities. The awards and state championship appearances. And eventually, another assembly in the same space where the stabbing happened.

Something else transpired over the course of the semester. Students took action. Quietly. Effectively.

Anyone who has a young person in their life, whether at LPS or elsewhere, knows they have had a different experience than the generation above them. Violence, at a school, a concert or a movie theatre, is something they’ve been exposed to all of their days. While the Luther incident only involved two students, and was dispelled quickly, the violence was no less horrifying, and brought home the fact that something could happen anywhere, any time.

Would this generation lean in to being victims and let the adults try to work out the solutions and policies? Or could the students do something?

Luther FFA Smith and Mohr
Smith and Mohr

Seniors Wayne Smith and Luke Mohr took hold of an idea put forth by their Ag Teacher and Advisor Holly Drake. Looking around online, she had found a door lock device in another state. The find served as a springboard for her students to work om their own design.

Mohr, the current FFA president, and Smith are among her leaders, and adept at metal fabrication. They had experience in welding fences at their farms, and making fire pits or gates in class. Some of those projects will be for up for auction at the annual FFA fund-raising event on January 21, 2019.

They are also older siblings to brothers and sisters coming up behind them. They agreed to take on this project.

With the equipment, the software and the patience to not only come up with their own prototype, but refine it, Mohr and Smith went through a few rounds of trial and error, but finally came up with a satisfactory door lock in design and function. With support from the administration, they bought the steel, the red paint and made 26 locks to fit on every door in the middle school. The other schools are next.

The device slips over the elbow of a door mechanism to prevent it from being opened. In theory, the “lockdown door lock” could stall an intruder from bursting through a door. It would buy precious seconds if the unthinkable came to pass.

While LPS has implemented other actions to improve student safety, including hiring a School Resource Officer, and other measures, this action from the students augments students safety, and makes the students part of the process to address an ongoing societal problem.

The devices are for sale – priced to cover costs plus lend some support to the growing LHS program. When new SRO Chris Tate saw the lockdowns, he said other districts with SROs might be interested as well as any business in Luther and beyond. Officer Tate put Mohr and Smith through a round of questions and answers that was as intense as the show Shark Tank that gives entrepreneurs a chance. Tate approved.

Mohr and Smith plan to work on the project for the elementary and high school buildings during their last semester of high school. They have gained practical experience in manufacturing, entrepreneurship and finding solutions while serving others. It’s education that ended the semester on a high note.

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