Onalaska Kids & Staff Plan for Worst, Hope for Best in Emergency - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Onalaska Kids & Staff Plan for Worst, Hope for Best in Emergency Drill


ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) – It's an ordinary school day interrupted by a brief but important announcement by Principal Curt Rees.

"This is an emergency lock down,"Rees says over the P.A. system at Northern Hills Elementary, before adding, "it's only a drill."

"This is typically the time of year when we do a lock down drill," Rees says.

"But because of what happened last month in Connecticut, we decided to let parents know ahead of time, as well as let students and staff know, just to think about the emotional security of the kids," Rees adds, referring to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in which a gunman entered the building and shot 20 first graders and six adults with no explanation.

Tuesday's drill at Northern Hills required students and staff to drop what they were doing.

They all made their way into rooms with lock-able doors, and were instructed to hide inside and keep quiet.

The lights were turned off.

Police then swept the building to check everything was secure.

"During drills like this, we just make a sweep through the building to make sure the doors are locked, the lights are off and the children are quiet," says Officer Matt Jahr, of the Onalaska Police Department.

"We want to be able to look in and not see anybody," he adds, "so it looks like the building is vacant."  

"Everything went well. I thought the kids did an exceptional job and stayed calm," Jahr says.

"We plan for the worst cases, but we hope and pray we don't have to use them for a real event," Rees says. 

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