How Safe is FSSA?
With more than 800 students and approximately 80 staff members, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), in Astoria, New York, takes safety very seriously. At least two safety agents always sit in front of the school’s main entrance at all times. And throughout the day, numerous safety agents walk around the school hallways to ensure the safety of the students and faculty. Annually, the school runs eight fire drills and four lockdown drills to prepare students for real life emergencies that can take place in school.
The faculty at FSSA believes the school is very protected, and trusts its safety agents.
“This school is safe, it’s a wonderful environment to learn. Our school safety agents are amazing, and know all the students well,” said Mr. Frankel, FSSA principal. “They’re great at deescalating situations, and we’re very lucky to have a great team and safe school.”
Some staff members at FSSA agreed with Mr. Frankel and spoke about how the school fosters strong relationships between students and staff.
“I do think this is a pretty open community where if something does happen, or if a student sees something, they’d approach a teacher,” English teacher, Mr. Scheiner said.
According to the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE), from 2015-2016, FSSA had zero criminal incidents. The average for crimes in similar size schools, ranged from 0.38 to 2.38. This data proves how safe FSSA really is, and how well the safety agents do their jobs.
Although the faculty feels very secure under the school safety agents, some students enrolled at FSSA seem to disagree.
“They only protect us from coffee getting in,” senior art major, Austin Canas stated.
In response to Austin’s statement, Agent Andrews, a safety agent at FSSA said that she’s only following the school rules that outside beverages are not allowed in the building.
Some students don’t take the roles of the safety agents seriously. They call the agents “security guards,” but all school safety agents must go through NYPD training.
“They call me ‘security guard’ and I don’t want to be called a security guard because I’m not. I went to school for a couple of months, to have this name, to be a part of the police department, I sometimes get offended,” Agent Andrew said.
Aside from the presence of safety agents, some students said they don’t feel prepared enough for an emergency because they think the school safety drills are useless.
“I am unprepared, like crazy unprepared for an emergency at school. I still can’t remember what to during situations like fires, what do we do? Do we wait for a teacher to come get us, or do we just run out,” Amy Nyguen, a senior at FSSA asked. “They don’t prepare for certain situations.”
Some students think the school doesn’t teach enough about safety drills, but they also don’t think the school should have more drills because they consider them a waste of time.
“Our drills are unrealistic in an event of a fire, not everyone’s going to stay single filed and stay quiet,” Nicole Ortiz, senior art major, said.
Meanwhile, other students view the level of safety in the school is good and bad.
“I think our school safety agents are too ruthless to let anything happen to us,” Rachel Bautz, 12th grader said. “I feel like the mandatory number to safety drills are enough. I kind of feel like the drills are unnecessary because we’re high schoolers, we’re obviously going to run out of the building if there’s a fire. I just don’t like the fire drills where we have to walk all the way downstairs, then back up to the fifth floor.”
Many students don’t like the fire drills only because they have to walk up the stairs again.
“There are eight fire drills, and four lockdown drills per year, and I think that’s good amount to make sure that the community is prepared. It’s really important that students take all of the drills seriously so that if there is an emergency, that we’re all prepared for it, and we’d know exactly what to do,” Mr. Frankel said.
– by Shelly Kwong ’18