LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Dozens of central Arkansas schools are holding their graduations in the coming days and weeks, and after the deadly shooting Thursday night outside of the Hot Springs ceremony, security is on the minds of many parents.
Even though no students were hurt from the shooting in the adjacent parking lot, one person was killed. Four others were injured.
Ron Self, Safety and Security Director for the Little Rock School District (LRSD), oversees making sure the graduation memory in his district are not tainted by tragedy.
“I just want them to be focused on their graduate and not anything else,” Self-stated.
LRSD is using War Memorial stadium for four large graduations this month and expects 13,000 to 14,000 people at some of them.
In Self’s words, “It is comparable to a larger sporting event.”
Just like large concerts or ball games, before getting to a seat, everyone will go through a metal detector and a bag search. District security is partnered with city and county law enforcement to cover the inside and outside of the venue to ensure a safe entrance and exit for families.
“Let us handle the backside of it. You just enjoy your time watching that loved one walk across the stage,” Self encouraged.
These procession protectors only ask one thing from you to enhance your safety and make sure your teen brings home a diploma safely.
“The biggest thing that we’re going to ask, and I think everybody tries to do is if you see anything let us know,” Self said. “If there may be some kind of an issue going on, that is how we find out about it.”
Since graduations are annual, officers are very familiar with them, but Self said his team still holds several meetings to plan and, in most cases, rehearse with graduates before the big day.
“We’ve done this before, so it is kind of like an old habit,” Self concluded. “It’s been perfected so to speak without using the word perfect.”