Principal Wunderlich Discusses Future Lockdowns


Photo by: Sophia Henning

Mr. Wunderlich works hard to improve overall communications.

Lily Heidorn and Sophia Henning

Principal Brian Wunderlich reviewed the day NHS endured a lockdown threat, Oct. 25, and recognized improvements need to be made.

On the day of the lockdown, Mr. Wunderlich was not on-site at the high school because of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a test result.

“I got a phone call eight minutes into the lockdown from an associate. I found my position difficult in the situation because there were several factors out of my control and I was advised against coming in.”

According to a WBAY article, the school resource officer advised the Associate Principal of NHS to put the school into a lockdown while also advising Tullar Elementary School to do the same after becoming aware of the threat. Soon after, multiple officers were called in to secure the high school.

 The Post-Crescent reported that police arrested a 17-year-old boy in Appleton who was responsible for the threats that caused the lockdown. Despite the fact no shots were fired, the event carried consequential weight.  In reflection, members of staff and the student body felt it could have been handled better. 

Wunderlich especially emphasized that poor communication played into an increased amount of stress during and after. Not all teachers received the announcement because of flaws in the public address system (PA), and those who did were unsure whether the activity was internal or external. This confusion extended into the student body, where rumors quickly spread over social media and encouraged the propagation of false information. Students returning from release were also unaware of the lockdown and gathered outside the front office en masse. Overall, improvements regarding communication from law enforcement to administration, administration to teacher, and teacher to student need to be addressed.

“We want our kids to trust us and be involved in the process,” Wunderlich said.

He has made an effort to solve the problems that came to light and encourage the communication that was lacking before. Through class discussions with students, he has been collecting varied viewpoints from all members of the school. One such suggestion that arose was to create and implement a school-wide Remind: an app that allows teachers and administrators to send texts to students who are signed up. The system would be opt-in, but has the potential to keep more kids in the loop when emergency news needs to be shared. Wunderlich also shared that someone in the future could be designated to post accurate information online during an event.

Maintenance for the PA and telephone systems are also planned, and an automated announcement — one that would repeat instructions during a lockdown — is also in the works.

Drills to practice procedures and to ease anxieties about lockdowns are also upcoming. Recently, a presentation was held during AACP to notify students of an upcoming partial drill in December and in order to go over logistics and unanswered questions.

In regards to the new high school, it will spotlight creating lockdown areas and having the training to make safe decisions. Because the new high school is being made more open, drills there will have a greater emphasis on getting out of the building as opposed to locking down in a classroom.

Most importantly, Wunderlich expressed his gratitude to staff and students for how they responded under the incredibly stressful circumstances.

“I want to thank all staff and students for how you handled the events on Oct. 25. Your response emphasized what it meant to be a Rocket and showed how we can take any situation and turn it into a learning opportunity.”