Miami pupil helps start fundraiser for school door locks | Local News |

2022-05-28 01:55:04 By : Mr. Jerry Yin

Clear skies. Low 59F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph..

Clear skies. Low 59F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

MIAMI, Okla. — Noble and tragic. That’s how Miami Public Schools Superintendent Nick Highsmith describes the efforts of a fourth grader to bring about a districtwide initiative to install Nightlock Security Door Stoppers.

Noble because the pupil, Hollynn Lawson, saw not only a problem — the need for security in classrooms — but also a way to be part of the solution. Tragic, Highsmith said, because she had to think about it in the first place.

“Growing up in pre-Columbine era, I don’t remember practicing for intruders,” Highsmith said, referring to the 1999 attack on a Colorado high school in which two teens shot and killed 12 students and one teacher before turning the guns on themselves. “But this is something educators worry about every day, thinking about what they will do in the situation. Because it’s not a matter of 'if,' but 'when' and 'where.' It’s a burden students pick up on.”

The project has taken on a new sense of urgency after an 18-year-old gunned down 19 students and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this week. The gunman apparently walked through an unlocked door at the school, authorities said.

Lawson launched the Miami initiative after her own experiences with drills for active-shooter scenarios.

On the day of a recent lockdown drill, she unpacked the experience with her aunt, Sarah Moore. As the pair talked, Moore said they began to look online for solutions to Lawson’s biggest fear — having the doors be unsecured.

The pair found Nightlock Security Door Stoppers, a metal lock that fits into the door at the base as well as in the floor. Once the lock is in place, the door cannot be pushed or pulled open until it is removed.

They discussed the idea with Highsmith, the district’s parent advisory council and ultimately with the school board. On May 13, the Adopt A Door campaign launched with the help of the Miami Public Schools Enrichment Foundation.

Initially, school officials planned to purchase locks for 258 doors across the district. That would have covered offices, classrooms, conference rooms and libraries. The cost, $120 per door, includes installation by Nightlock officials.

But community response deepened after this week's shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Moore said the initial goal — to secure every door in the district — has been met.

Now, officials are less than $10,000 from reaching their second-phase goal, which involves adding sensors to the locks. The sensors would send emergency signals throughout the school’s texting system, indicating a door’s lock was activated and emergency procedures would need to be implemented.

“We care about kids and want them to be safe,” Highsmith said. “This is not part of a magic solution. But when a student comes to you with an idea, you look at how you can develop it and get community action.”

Highsmith said he is grateful for the community support, which includes help from individuals, businesses and tribal partners. He hopes the locks can be installed before the start of the 2022-23 school year.

Moore said the community response to the campaign has been encouraging.

“It’s sad that it takes something like this to remind you that these things still exist,” she said. “(But) in one of the darkest times, it’s been such a breath of fresh air to see that people still care.”

Lawson said she’s glad she stepped up and found a solution to her concerns. She hopes other students learn from her experience.

“You have a voice, you can raise it and try to find a solution to a problem,” she said. “Don’t be afraid and (don't) stay quiet because voices matter.”

Anyone wishing to help purchase Nightlocks for the Miami Public Schools system may visit for details or to make a tax-deductible donation.

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