WNYT.com

Conn. Shooting brings up memories for Columbia High

Posted at: 12/14/2012 4:55 PM
Updated at: 12/14/2012 5:35 PM
By: Jessica Layton

EAST GREENBUSH - Watching the incident unfold in Connecticut dredges up memories for administrators at Columbia High School in East Greenbush.

In 2004 there was a shooting incident at the school. A teacher was shot and later recovered.

Jessica Layton spoke with the principal this afternoon who was credited at the time for his heroics that day.

John Sawchuk says he was more saddened than shocked by the news of the mass shooting at sandy hook elementary school.

The tragedy in Connecticut triggers thoughts of the local school shooting almost nine years ago.

Sawchuk says they've improved security and safety in schools by leaps and bounds since that day and since the columbine shooting.

Sawchuk also talked about the safety drills they do regularly - with scenarios of a dangerous person inside the school or a report of a bomb at the school.

And they do these practice drills at inconvenient times so it's realistic.

There are multiple cameras and television monitors set up throughout the building, and only a single point of entry at the High School. Everything else is locked.

For Sawchuk - who helped wrestle the gun away from John Romano in Feb. 2004 - student safety is always number one.

“You might think we think about this every time something like this happens but really something we think about every day and you have to because most important part of our job is keeping kids safe,” he said.

Sawchuk says they still battle budget issues when it comes to safety: for example - the proposal for a new vestibule in the High School lobby and buzzer system to let people in has gotten voted down twice.

He say they do the very best they can with what they have.