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Schools must make safety a priority

On Friday night, our newsroom learned that a weapon was brought to a Mars basketball game.

One of our reporters — a sports reporter covering the triple-overtime game — was there when staff came through a downstairs hallway and urged people to take shelter. They were warned there was a potential "active shooter" upstairs, our reporter said.

He and some others stepped into a nearby room and barricaded the door with a filing cabinet.

The players, meanwhile, were in their respective locker rooms, where they stayed during the scare.

Mars Area superintendent Mark Gross explained in a statement, which was posted quickly to the district website, that Adams Township Police and Mars Area School District’s School police officers responded and apprehended the individual with the weapon following an incident in the parking lot.

The scene was secured, and no one was harmed, police told us.

Our team worked quickly to figure out what was going on and cover the incident in a way to let people know in turn what was happening, but not spread any misinformation.

Our photographer from that game already was home for the evening, but he quickly hopped back into his car to go back. Likewise, one of our news reporters immediately headed in that direction. Our sports reporter, too, stayed calm under pressure and was able to report from the scene.

We were nothing short of terrified, though, as we prepared for that coverage.

We were relieved to learn that no one was harmed. But at the same time, we were also sick to our stomachs knowing that this happened right here in Butler County — particularly when a few days earlier, police reported that a student had brought a knife to school.

Superintendent Gross followed up his Friday statement with another on Monday, explaining that the district would be having some conversations about safety.

We would urge school districts across Butler County to take a good look at their security plans.

The Eagle has reported stories about threats at Moniteau and Knoch recently. We covered the news that a student allegedly brought a knife to Karns City Jr./Sr. High School earlier this month.

In November, we reported that Butler Senior High School had seen an increase in the number of student behavior issues, some of which have risen to the level of criminal behavior.

The threat of violence in schools isn’t a threat that exists across the country, someplace else that is not relevant to us. That danger is here, and we have to ensure our students are safe.

— TL

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