The Monday morning discovery on campus of a rusted and dirt-encrusted clip of .22-caliber rifle shells gave Columbia High School administrators a chance to exercise CHS's emergency response policy and procedures.
According to CHS Principal Tim McGlothlin, a student found the clip lying in grass about five feet away from a walkway that connects the library and `C' Court, the building which houses CHS's arts, music and physical education departments.
The student turned the clip into the office, giving McGlothlin and dean of students Elmer Kinder a chance to assess the risk the finding posed to campus safety.
After consulting with members of the CHS faculty and the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office, the doors to buildings on campus remained open as usual.
That's because McGlothlin concluded the risk wasn't great enough to warrant going to a higher level of campus security, such as a partial lockdown of exterior doors.
"We don't know where it came from or how it got there, but it appeared the clip had been laying in the grass for a long period of time. It was rusted and filled with water and dirt," McGlothlin noted. "The condition of the clip led us to conclude there was no impending danger to students."
However, at least three students left campus with parental approval following an announcement of the clip's discovery.
For those students who stayed in school, administrators and teachers used the discovery as an opportunity to involve students in classroom discussions about CHS's emergency response policy and procedures.
"We met with the faculty and they were going to go back into the classrooms to discuss this incident with their students," McGlothlin said. "We believe students have to be a part of the process if our policy and procedures are going to work."
Most significant, though, he added, was that school officials were ready to respond when the situation presented itself.
"The important thing was that we were prepared and took appropriate steps after the (clip's) discovery," McGlothlin explained. "We want the community to know we have plans in place to deal with these kinds of situations and maintain the safety of our schools."