OKLAHOMA CITY – Ever since the deadly Columbine High School Shooting in 1999, architect Socrates Lazaridis has been designing schools in Oklahoma to be safer. That’s especially the case since Wednesday’s deadly shooing in Florida.
“After the school opens, these doors close except one,” said Lazaridis, the president of Renaissance Architects, as he pointed to one school’s floor plan. “This gives total control, who comes in and who does not.”
His floor plans work like security valves, keeping out intruders and even isolating them in one portion of the building away from students.
All of his schools feature advanced security features, including tornado safe rooms, which double as active-shooter shelters, and automatic locking systems. In the future, he hopes districts will include bullet-proof glass and steel doors.
Mike Hyatt, a former school administrator, is now a school designer with Renaissance Architects. He said the school shooting in Florida is the worst thing he can imagine.
“That’s the worst nightmare that you can experience, you know? You just pray and hope that that never happens to your school district,” Hyatt said.
He said the new and improved schools are great, but it takes more than just better walls and tougher doors.
“It all goes back to the people that are implementing the plan when it happens and how controlled they can stay, how calm they can stay,” Hyatt said.
He said parents also need to be in the loop by encouraging their children to report suspicious behavior, especially on social media.