Students speak up about classmate with BB gun at Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines High School’s Safe Schools motto of “See something, hear something, say something” was put to effective use by students on Nov. 16 when students alerted administration that a fellow student was in possession of a BB gun on campus.

“Fortunately, the safety of our students and staff was not threatened and the incident was resolved quickly,” said Principal Rob Coppo. “We were able to intervene quickly and keep everybody safe.”

The San Diego Police Department was also notified and due to the quick response, there was no need to put the school into a secure campus or lockdown mode.

Coppo said he could not comment on the disciplinary actions taken on the student.

“I’m very pleased that our students felt confident and supported to come and talk to an administrator so we could immediately resolve it and help the student,” Coppo said. “There are 3,000 people on campus and we all have to work together because we can’t possibly see everything.”

The Torrey Pines’ Peer Assisted Listeners (PALs) had just hosted Safe Schools “Say Something Week” as part of the National School Safety Center program, on Oct. 15-20. Per the national program, school safety includes keeping campuses free of crime and violence, improving discipline and increasing student attendance—“Schools that are safe and free of violence, weapons and drugs are necessary to ensure the well-being of all children and the quality of their education.”

Torrey Pines PALs decorated the campus and hosted activities throughout the week on the theme of “see something, hear something, say something.”

“’Hear something’ is a big issue for us, so we added that because kids hear things all the time,” Coppo said.

Coppo said students are encouraged not only to notify a teacher, a counselor, or other staff member when they hear or see a potentially dangerous situation with a weapon but also to alert someone when they see or hear a student with a mental health issue; to tell someone if a student is suicidal, stressed out or depressed so that a support system can be put in place for them.

“We want to work together to help each other,” Coppo said. “It is important for everyone to play a role in keeping our campus safe and secure.”

In May, a 15-year-old Torrey Pines student armed with a BB gun was fatally shot by San Diego police officers in the campus parking lot on an early weekend morning after he called 911. A suicide note was found in his pocket.

Coppo said that Torrey Pines has been focusing on wellness this year like never before, not just because of the tragedy the campus suffered last year, but because it has become part of the school’s culture over the last several years.

Torrey Pines’ website includes a “Safety and Crisis Information” link with details and resources on emergency preparedness, communication and how students can report something if they prefer to remain anonymous. Those include:

  • We Tip (1-800-47-DRUGS) to report information regarding the sale of drugs on campus.
  • Crime Stoppers (sdcrimestoppers.org) to anonymously report information regarding past and potential crime.
  • Students Speaking Out (studentsspeakingout.org) to make an anonymous phone, text or web tip about dangerous activity or crime at school or in the community and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

The San Dieguito Union High School District has also developed a Suicide Prevention Policy and Protocol and has numerous resources on the district website under student support and wellness: bit.ly/2icc9Fp.

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