Rise of School Violence

Woodgrove’s School Security Officer, Mr. Ward Sigler, standing out front of the building greeting students. (Virginia Walker)

     Recently there has been a national and local rise in school violence including students, staff, and parents. With the news of a Virginia teacher being shot by a six-year-old student, it’s time for realistic solutions to end school violence. 

     Lots of students at Woodgrove feel safe in the atmosphere created by the people in this school. Junior Noah Brown believes, “The staff members here do a good job catching violence before it turns into something bigger.” With similar thoughts, Senior Grace Fontaine states, “Woodgrove values maintaining a positive and safe environment. I have not seen aggression or felt unsafe in all my four years until the recent threat on January 12th.” On January 12th, Woodgrove went into Secure the School mode after a parent threatened a staff member. While students and staff have a general feeling of safety at Woodgrove, the obvious rise of violence, consisting of threats, fights, and hate speech, can’t be ignored.

     Woodgrove High School Principal Dr. William Shipp says, “Since we’ve come back from being out of school with the pandemic, we have noticed behaviors where students are making some choices that aren’t in their best interests.” Shipp also explains how student safety is the top priority at Woodgrove. “The majority of our students understand, want, and desire a school where all students can come in and feel safe.” To increase safety around the school, Woodgrove recently brought on another Safety and Security Officer, Mr. Lee Goolsby.                                          

      Woodgrove’s School Security Officer, Mr. Ward Sigler states, “Any instance of the concern to the safety and security of students and staff is taken very seriously.” Students are often scared and unsure of what to do when they see violence. Sigler explains, “There are many protocols in place throughout all of LCPS for student and staff safety. The most important one being ‘See Something, Say Something.’ The Safe2Talk app is provided by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office as an anonymous way to report concerns.”     

     Senior Scarlett Seneca explains her perspective on school violence: “The new norm is that we’re supposed to just prepare and be used to shootings happening; we have to have lockdown drills in every class.” 

     As for the many students who do have feelings of anxiety, Woodgrove provides various methods to reinforce feelings of safety and community. English teacher Mr. Thomas Scott explains how everyday Facetime lessons “are meant to help students adjust and develop necessary soft skills needed to work through any challenge presented to them.” For purposes of empowerment, student success, and support, this school “encourages a sense of community, belonging, and respect.” 

       Students having access and being provided with necessary mental health resources is a step towards ensuring the safety of the entire student body. Counseling Director Mrs. Geri Fiore states, “If we’re seeing red flags or warning signs that someone is at risk of being hurt, hurting themselves, or hurting other people, we make sure to intervene and get them linked to support.” Fiore goes on to explain how important it is to build individual relationships with students to make sure everyone is aware that there is always a safe space to talk. 

      Students completed an administrative poll in November of 2022; 82% of students reported feeling secure at Woodgrove. Woodgrove is taking steps to improve upon safety and security for everyone. The conversation of school violence can only end with one thing: stopping it.

Student polls regarding Woodgrove’s expectations and student safety. (Jeff Schutte)