Teacher Rachel Flachs speaks out after facing lock down and gun threat at Battle Creek-Lakeview High

Insight into the reality of being under lock down with little information in an unfamiliar setting, and the steps that must be taken to go forward


Artwork by Kaoru Murai

Flachs speaks out on safety after experiencing a lock down and shooting threat during the SMAC conference meet at Battle Creek – Lakeview High School.

Courtesy of Rachel Flachs
Teacher Rachel Flachs teaches French, and also coaches the Men’s Swim and Dive team.

Two school-shooting threats were announced during the Men’s Swimming and Diving SMAC conference meet last week. Swimming coach and teacher Madame Flachs was there with the team and had to make quick decisions about what needed to be done. With the help of prior training and good judgement, Flachs was able to keep her team safe and unharmed. Below is a Q and A about her thoughts and experiences after going through a school-shooting lockdown.


Q1: How did you find out or hear about the threats at the school?

A: The Lakeview swim coach announced over the loudspeaker that both the high school and the middle school were being put into an immediate lockdown.

Q2: How did you feel when you heard them? What emotions were going through your mind?

A: I was almost in disbelief that it was actually happening to us, but at the same time I was asking myself, “Is this the new normal in schools?” It was definitely scary.  

Q3: What were some difficulties that you encountered when trying to think of an effective plan to keep your team safe?

A: The main challenge was that we weren’t given any information on where the threat was coming from. Not knowing where the threat was made it difficult to determine the safest place to go or evacuate to.  The other challenge was that there were nine teams on the pool deck, and presumably all the coaches did not have the same training. There was no common plan.

Q4: What was the outcome of the event?

A: It was a very quick lockdown, and it only lasted a few minutes.  The same coach came over the microphone. He said that the suspects were now in police custody and that the lockdown was over.

Q5: Do you think your staff ALICE training helped you deal with a situation like this? If so, how?

A: Yes, being trained in ALICE did help me. I felt like I had options and that I had decision-making power. Although they were saying to lock down, I was keeping an evacuation option open in my mind. I was continually scanning the pool deck for safer places to be, as well as possible exits where we could evacuate.

Q6: How has your opinion on the ALICE training changed after this firsthand event?

A: I like the ALICE training even better than before.  It was quite empowering to know that we had options. I did not feel like sitting and waiting was the only option.  

Q7: What new insight did you discover/realize from being in this situation?

A:   It made me realize that thinking through possible events beforehand is very important.  Brainstorming your choices, along with the pros and cons of each choice, can be done at any time and is a good way to prepare.  It’s like driving a car: it’s good to imagine scenarios ahead of time and think about how you would react to them. It also made me realize how important the Alert step in ALICE is.  It’s critical for everyone to have as much information about the threat as possible (location, how many people, etc.).

Q8: What do you think the PPS community should be doing to prepare people for a situation like this?

A: I think that continuing these types of conversations is a great way to continue moving forward.  By talking about possible situations and the possible steps/reactions, we will be better prepared. As much as none of us want to think about these things happening here, we can be better prepared in case they ever did.