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Newtown shootings, rapid growth in enrollment, prompt Beaumont school to beef up security
BEAUMONT- By Megan Dillard - Safety in schools is top of mind for parents, educators, and students across the country.
The shootings in Newtown, Connecticut are prompting one Beaumont school to make sure student protection remains the highest priority. Friendship Christian Academy is a small school off FM 105, next to Friendship Baptist Church.
The school opened its doors just about two years ago.
Enrollment started with less than two dozen students.
Now there are nearly one hundred students.
The pastor of the church explains rapid growth in student enrollment and recent crime in schools has his staff taking a closer look at student safety. School is just about to let out at Friendship Christian Academy in Beaumont Tuesday afternoon.
Lockers, books, folders.
Age-old items we've seen at schools for decades.
But this school also has some new features. Security bars on all windows, a camera system, a door with a magnetic lock.
Measures pastor Casey Zimmerman says are all about protecting students. "After the school shooting in Connecticut, was when we realized, you know what? You pray and hope that nothing like that ever happens anywhere, but parents have trusted us with their most prized posession: their children."
Zimmerman says nothing has happened at Friendship Christian Academy to cause him to worry about security but he believes no school is immune to the threat.
You don't want the kinds of things that happened in connecticut or columbine, or any number of places; you don't want those things to happen to anybody.
Students here are among the youngest--pre schoolers all the way up to the oldest--seniors in high school.
Faces, lives Zimmerman says are worth every penny the school spends on security upgrades.
"We could've put that into a whole lot of other things, but it was a worthwhile investment. If nothing else, just for the peace of mind that a parent has when they bring their child here."
And it's that peace of mind school officials hope to offer to parents.
It's the reason the school put in place this camera entry system.
A visitor must push this button, wait for an answer from a staff member inside, then wait to get in through this door.
The door has a magnetic lock and locks from both sides.
If you're in here, you have to push this button to get out.
Unless there's a fire, then the system unlocks.
The next step the school plans to put in place is using identification lanyards.
Teachers and staff will wear the picture IDs around their necks.
The pastor says it's all part of protecting students here at Friendship Christian Academy.