Posted at: 10/29/2013 11:42 AM
Updated at: 10/30/2013 9:42 AM
By: Kumi Tucker
EAST GREENBUSH -- Getting 1,500 students in and out of a school is no easy task, but the evacuation drill at Columbia High School in East Greenbush was orderly and quick.
Students came out in groups and got onto buses that took them to Goff Middle School.
Teachers had to check attendance and make sure everyone was accounted for.
The school has done many evacuations and safety drills before. Today's was different in that they all came out one door and were bused to a different location.
Principal John Sawchuk spoke with the students about why they're having this drill.
"When the Sandy Hook shooting happened, it was well covered. Our kids saw that on TV and I said, what did you see? We saw parents who were crying and what do you think they were wanting? They wanted to know where their kids were and if they were safe. That's the purpose of this," Sawchuk said.
Sawchuk was assistant principal in February 2004 when a teenager armed with a shotgun went into this high school and opened fire. The gunman shot a teacher, who survived. Sawchuk tackled the shooter and helped wrestle away the gun.
"I'm definitely hoping to prepare for a real emergency situation," said Columbia High School Senior Mackenzie Nichols. "I know we had the shooting in the past. My brother was actually here when that happened. So he told me what that was like and it was kind of chaotic. So I'm hoping through this that we can learn a safe way to evacuate the school."
"I think any time you're prepared and you're proactive, you're going to be more familiar with your situation and your surroundings," said Brian Marsh, a social studies teacher at the school. "And I think they're feeling more prepared, and our staff as well, is feeling more prepared."
"Everyone always says oh, it can't be me," said Nichols. "But what if it was my school? What if it was my peers going through this?"
Nichols says they'll feel safer, knowing they have a plan if the worst should happen.