Thousands evacuate Grand Island Senior High for emergency drill

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - A multi-agency emergency drill took place at Grand Island Senior High Thursday. Thousands of students took part in a surprise evacuation to prepare for the worst.

At 12:45 pm the message of an emergency drill went out from Grand Island Public Schools and the police department. Few people were aware this drill would be going on, including almost all of the staff at Senior High.

Administrators said they didn't tell many people because they wanted the drill to feel close to what a real emergency would be like.

The police department closed off several streets surrounding the campus. Most officers also were not clued in to how the drill would go.

Students walked from the Senior High down Custer Avenue to Walnut Middle School. The evacuation of the 2500 students took about 30 minutes, which is a school record.

“It's important for us to conduct these types of drills,” Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover, “It's always a learning opportunity for us. We know that safety is the top priority for Grand Island Public Schools."

Administrators said they had been planning this drill for over a year now with their emergency team that included law enforcement. They will take what they learned and make any improvements to their emergency plans.

“Having gone through this practice, we can have a peace of mind that our students can actually follow through and do it,” Executive Principal Jeff Gilbertson.

One student says others were in a panic and not sure what to do.

“There were a couple kids that were like 'I need to grab this, I need to grab this' and she just said grab your phone and make sure you have your ID on you and go to the corner and the teacher was very calm about it and everybody else felt so much calmer about it,” Sophomore Riley Harder said.

Administrators said the drill went according to plan and also want to thank parents for being understanding and helping the drill be authentic for students.