The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

For the second time in two years, metal detectors appear in THHS lobby for “random scanning”

Katherine Lian
Townsend Harris High School students face an unexpected metal detector and “hold” during class on September 26.
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On September 26, students arrived at school to find metal detectors in the front lobby. This was the second time in the past two years that students at Townsend Harris High School have been surprised to find metal detectors waiting for them at the beginning of the school day.

Principal Brian Condon told The Classic that the NYPD selected the school for a “random scanning.” According to Mr. Condon, random scanning “means they select schools based on location level” considering “student population, size…[and] what’s going on in the neighborhood.” In May 2022, random scanning also occurred, the second time in Mr. Condon’s seven years at THHS. That scanning occurred following an “imitation gun incident” at the school.

Mr. Condon said that the NYPD only returns for scanning if there are over ten items of contraband. To avoid this in the future, he said, “Please do not bring [pepper spray] in.”

The same day of the screening, a loudspeaker announcement during third band asked students to remain in classes and not to proceed to fourth band. According to Mr. Condon, the administration might call for such a “hold” in events where “adults or children may need to be escorted from our school building by first responders.” In those cases, he said, the school does their best to “give them as much privacy as possible.”

Although the two events happened on the same day, Principal Condon said that “the metal detectors and the hold were not related.”

The Classic spoke to various THHS students regarding their experience with these safety precautions. In particular, numerous students said that the hold made them anxious, given the presence of the metal detectors in the morning. Students also reported seeing ambulances outside of the school, which added to concerns. According to Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee, the ambulances were a coincidence and were not there for THHS but for others in the neighborhood.

Mr. Condon said that the hold was not a “lockdown,” which is what students and staff practice for in the event of a dangerous intrusion. Mr. Condon said, “If the student, staff-member, or visitor presented danger, we would go into a lockdown. If they don’t, then we would do a hold.”

In conversations with students, however, it is clear that teachers responded to the “hold” announcement in different ways, with teachers from multiple departments treating it as if it was a lockdown.

According to three students from a senior social studies class, their teacher responded to the announcement as if it was a lockdown, locking the room and covering the windows on the door.

Senior Ashvini Panday, who was in the classroom, said, “We were all confused and thought it was part of the lockdown, including [the teacher].” Senior Samia Rimjim, who was also in the class, said, “We were a little worried that something bad may have happened.”

Sophomore Sophia Lee said, “I wish that the school told me why there was a hold because if there wasn’t a serious safety issue it would be relieving, especially for my parents, to know that we are in a safe environment.”

Freshman Rio Ishiyama said, “The announcement that we needed to spend an additional 15 minutes in class startled me, as it was very random. I would appreciate it if they explained why this occurred so students wouldn’t be concerned when it happens again.”

Similarly, senior Tasnim Hossain said, “I was confused [about the 15 minute hold] and I thought there was a danger in the school. I feel the school needs some more transparency with what is happening.”

However, some were less affected by the hold. Freshman Elena Molina said, “It would be nice to know why there was a hold, but to me it doesn’t matter that much.”

English teacher Katherine Lipinski, who was teaching her ninth grade class at the time, said, “My students were a little confused, but not concerned.”

When asked if any communication was given about the hold, Mr. Condon said, “I would not send out a communication to parents every time I decide to do a hold in classes. It wouldn’t make sense.”

Despite this, Assistant Principal Veronica York said she understands that “it’s a frustrating thing on a student’s side to be unaware and left in the dark.” However, she said that due to DOE protocols and regulations, “There’s not much else that a school can do for transparency.”

Mr. Condon said that measures such as the scanning prove effective only when they happen randomly and that there needs to be a balance between what is communicated and what is random to ensure a safe environment.

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About the Contributors
Carina Fucich, Editor-in-Chief
Carina Fucich is a senior at Townsend Harris High School. She loves to play sports and solve puzzles in her free time. Her favorite memory of The Classic is going to Albany to talk to legislators.
Isabel Jagsaran, Editor-in-Chief
Isabel is a senior at Townsend Harris High School. She enjoys exploring new recipes, listening to a plethora of music genres, and kindly asking her friends to take pictures of her. Her favorite memories with The Classic involve bonding with her fellow editors in places like Boston and Albany.
Katherine Lian, Multimedia Chief
Katherine Lian is a senior at Townsend High School who enjoys taking pictures, dancing, and trying new things. Her favorite memory with The Classic was her trip to Albany with her peers.
Sadeea Morshed, Editor-in-Chief
Sadeea Morshed is a senior at Townsend Harris High School. She loves to dance and watch cheesy romcoms in her free time. When she's not editing Classic articles, you might find her with a book in hand or turning the volume up on an old Bollywood song. She's beyond excited to work on another amazing year of The Classic with everyone!
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