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Elmont HS Lockdown: Taking No Chances

Thirty-one days after terror struck Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Elmont Memorial High School was locked down due to a 911 call that brought back unwanted memories of a sunny Dec. 14 that turned dark in an instant. Luckily in Nassau County, it was a toy that brought about the lockdown – not the real thing. 

The high school was locked down early Tuesday morning on Jan. 15 after a suspicious person was seen putting what looked like a gun in a backpack, according to police. A four-hour search ensued, with police finding an air-powered Nerf toy lever-action pistol.

Nassau County Police said a person called 911 at about 7:40 a.m. and reported seeing a male teenager walk into the school with the toy. Authorities confirmed the gun was a lime green.

A SWAT team was also present. Students called their parents from the field behind the school, where many were evacuated, according to police.

Principal John Capozzi said four automated phone calls were dispatched to school parents, updating them on the developments throughout the lockdown.

“Once we secured the inside of the building, we moved the students from the outside of the building to the baseball field where more police responded and [students] were allowed into the cafeteria, where they were placed on lockdown there,” Capozzi stated, noting every student was fed.

Districts across Long Island practice lockdown drills throughout the year. Capozzi said hallways, which he estimated contained 1,500 students between classes, were cleared in less than one minute.

“It worked to perfection,” he said, commenting on student behavior and administrative implementation of lockdown procedures. “Kids knew exactly what to do, teachers knew exactly what to do.”

Sewanhaka Central High School District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie would not provide details about the student or whether he was reprimanded for bringing the toy to the school. About 24 police officers were outside the school as late as 10:40 a.m. police said.

Ferrie was onsite when the 911-call came in. He said he was in the building all day and that the district will continue to analyze current and future safety procedures.

“As a result of this incident, it did demonstrate that through the collaborative approach between the Nassau County Police Department and [the high school], specifically the building administration, staff, teachers and the students, our security and lockdown procedures work and that our students are safe,” Ferrie told the New Hyde Park Illustrated News. 

The incident occurred on the same day state legislators in Albany were hammering out details to pass stricter New York State gun laws. The bill expands the state’s existing ban on assault weapons and makes it illegal for a mentally ill person to own a firearm.

Ferrie stated high school staff addressed the students concerning the incident. “Students practiced [the security procedures] and we’re continuing to self-reflect and look at ways we can always improve,” said Ferrie. “What we saw were the security procedures and the lockdown drills in place and they worked.”

News

The Sewanhaka Central High School District renewed Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie’s contract for the next five years at a recent board meeting. Ferrie will receive no pay increase in 2014-15 at a $238,000 salary. The contract expires on June 30, 2019.

 

“You can’t get [work] done without a unanimous board,” Ferrie said. “This board took a leap of faith with the program plans for the district. We also have an excellent team [of administrators]. That’s an awesome team.”

New Hyde Park resident Tom Madera, of 7th Avenue, doesn’t want another car crashing into his house and hopes a Nassau County plan to install traffic calming features along Covert Avenue will prevent another incident.

 

“Anything would help, even if it makes noise like rubber strips along the road,” he said. “I can assure that it doesn’t make as much noise as a screeching Cadillac which has decided to reorganize the front of your house. That happened two years ago.”

 

The project would run down Covert Avenue from Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park, south to Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont. The project could cost more than $250,000, according to Aryeh Lemberger, unit head for Nassau County traffic engineers. He expects the plan would begin in 2015.


Sports

The Sewanhaka Indians’ very talented lacrosse defenseman, Tyler Regnier, will be playing next season for the Division 1 Rutgers University Scarlet Knights.

 

Regnier started playing lacrosse as a third grader, when he played with the New Hyde Park Police Activity League, a youth lacrosse program.

 

“At first, I wasn’t too serious,” he said recently. “But I just stuck with it, a lot of training, a lot of travel and a lot of practice made it happen.”

Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness in Williston Park received belt promotions after completing a series of extensive exams.

 

Graduates

From New Hyde Park:  Jonah Khorrami to brown belt, Isabella Castelli to purple belt.

 

From Mineola:  Alexandra Santos and Kayla Toal to, Kayla Toal yellow belt, Jason DeJesus to Yellow/White Belt.

 

From Williston Park:  Mario Lombardo to red belt, Daniel Melore to blue belt, Grayson Lee to yellow/white belt.

 

From Garden City:  Alexandra Delgais: to brown belt, Jake Delgais to yellow/white belt.

 

From Roslyn Heights:  Suhani Jain to red belt.  

 

From Uniondale:  Isiah McClean to yellow/white belt.



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