FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gurnee--A strong partnership between Woodland Community Consolidated School District 50 and Gurnee Police Department has led to the production of a professional video to help enhance safety in schools.
Following the December tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, Woodland engaged in discussions with the Gurnee Police Department regarding the district's safety and security measures in place. One area that was addressed as needing improvement involved the timing of when new staff and substitute teachers are trained during the school year. At the beginning of the school year, members of the Gurnee Police Department train all new staff regarding lockdown procedures. However, staff that are hired during the school year receive no training until the following year.
"This is common practice in most school districts," said Associate Superintendent of Education Lori Casey. "The safety of our students and staff remains a priority. We are constantly looking to analyze and improve safety in the district and as such, look to implement new strategies when appropriate."
Gurnee Police Department's Crime Prevention Technician Tom Agos suggested partnering with the school district to develop a DVD that all new staff would be required to watch that would review what to do in the event of a lockdown.
What began as a good idea has evolved into one that now involves a professional actor and producer/director from the Chicago TV and film industry, a crew of cinematographers, lighting, and technical support from Columbia College, deputy sheriffs from the Lake County Sheriff's Office, and makeup/hair stylists from Octagon Spa in Gurnee. The crew and cast will be supplied dinner by the Savanna House Restaurant.
"The Village strives to provide a safe environment for our children," said Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik. "Our police department does a great job in the schools with the D.A.R.E. program and the safety drills. I think this project is fabulous and a way to use technology to broaden the reach and re-enforce the message of this life-saving information."
The first step in this process was the casting call. Held at the Gurnee Police Department last month, police officers were recruited to be part of the project. In addition, Woodland is creating a crew of Middle School students to appear as extras in the film as well as working with the professional crew behind the scenes. All of those involved with the creation are doing so free of charge.
"School safety is a primary concern for all of us and we work closely with the school district to provide the safest possible environment for our kids," said Gurnee Chief of Police Kevin Woodside. "Our partnership includes annual training and frequent drills to be certain all school and police staff are aware of the safety procedures in place. This video project will fill a gap by providing critical information to newly hired faculty and staff who missed that annual training."
The filming will take place from 3 to 10 p.m., February 15 at Woodland Middle School, 7000 Washington Street, Gurnee. Members of the press who wish to cover the event are asked to arrive at the location no earlier than 3:30 p.m.
"While the original purpose of this video was to share it with new Woodland employees, we are also hopeful that other school districts may find the DVD beneficial," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joy A. Swoboda. "We are most appreciative of the collaborative relationship we have with the Gurnee Police Department and thank them for their support to further enhance safety measures so that our district will remain a safe learning environment for our children and staff."
Jennifer Tempest Bova (847) 596-5604
Lori Casey (847) 596-5630
Jay Patrick (847) 599-7061
Tom Agos (847) 599-7080