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York High Student to School Board: 'New Security Policies Aren't Preventing Anything'

Anna Hovorka says the real concern is the mental well-being of students.

After District 205 Superintendent David Pruneau opened Tuesday's School Board meeting with a rundown of new security procedures districtwide and a moment of silence for those killed in Newtown, Conn., York High School senior Anna Hovorka got up to deliver a sobering message.

"Security isn't the matter at hand," she said, during public comment. "The shooter had a mental illness. I think the School District needs to consider the fact that there are many students in our School District who have mental illnesses who are not seen or considered. The matter at hand is that that is who is a danger if anything were to happen."

She added she knows of "many people" in her grade, alone, who seem lonesome, shy or depressed and could potentially be at risk for committing violence.

She also said that not only are the security measures not helpful, some of them could even be harmful.

"We are not allowed to to be in hallways or leave through exits," she said. "And we are pushed into the commons into one large group of people, which in my opinion ... is dangerous."

She said if an intruder were to come into the school, such a large group in one place would be an easy target.

"I don't think these new policies are helping the school or preventing anything," she said. "They are making students more stressed out, and students are more eager to rebel than they were before."

School Board President Jim Collins went outside of typical protocol and addressed Hovorka directly.

"While it is not our policy to comment on public comment, I can assure you, we are listening carefully. Thank you very much," he said.

Security districtwide will continue to be studied, Pruneau said, in his opening comments.

"We're going to talk more about precautions than we have in the past," he said.

He also thanked the Elmhurst police for stepping up their security in and around all Elmhurst schools.

"It's a great manpower issue for them, but we appreciate the security and safety it provides students and our staff," he said.

Extra police presence will continue through the end of this week until the students are released for winter break, Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth said Monday.

Also in his opening statement, Pruneau did acknowledge the difficulty in planning for a random act of violence. But he made a promise to parents.

"Being a parent, I know how scary and upsetting this can be when you have a child in school. You watch them leave every day and come into our schools and hope we are doing everything we can to keep your child safe," he said. "Let me assure you, we are."

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Anna Hovorka December 19, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I am not suggesting at all that those people should be refused entry into the school. All I am asking for is that teachers and the administration pay more attention to students and what may be going on in their lives Students need to know that there is someone there for them. And in my 4 years at York, I have a very few amount of teachers reach out to students yet who may need it. And no I don't believe that if a student in more shy or is depressed it should be used as a pretext to institutionalize that student. And pushing all of us into the commons is more dangerous. If a situation like Columbine happened at York, a student would know that during lunch periods, there are a mass amount of people in the commons and cafeteria leading to a potentially bigger threat.
Big Tuna December 20, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Way to go Anna. It took alot of courage to do what you did. I hope it not only opens up awareness for your school. But for all schools. I'm sure your parents are proud of you.
Stewart Levine December 20, 2012 at 07:27 AM
psychopathy among teens and young adults is endemic of western civilization and western culture based on what we have come to accept as the 'norm' which fragments the mind and create schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline personality disorders among many others. if you would like to see a more serene peaceful society, all you have to do is put on some tv programs from the 1950's and compare them with what is being fed to the public at large today. the agenda is monumentally poisonous. I agree if you want to help kids, you need to help them help themselves. punishing society as a whole because of one psychopath, is wrong. if this guy wanted guns and wasn't allowed to purchase them he would have found them one way or another. its the people that are close to him and only him who you can blame. when you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns, and you will not be able to protect yourself from psychos like this for example
Jim Court December 21, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Stewart, You are correct. I am currently reading a book with a misleading name called " The Wisdom of Psychopaths" by Kevin Dutton. He speaks of how society has a vastly increasing number of psychopaths among us, in particular our younger generation. This is a very disturbing trend that I have often spoke about. I had thought about forming a book discussion group based on this book but other attempts to do something like this have met with indifference and lack of response. The idea of gathering with intelligent people who seek growth and understand seems appealing but I guess not in Elmhurst.
Jim Court December 21, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I believe that mental illness is a pervasive problem that society chooses to deny and ignore. Drug laws focus on punitive actions instead of the realization that much of the consumption is based on an attempt at self medication. I have often reached out to help the mentality ill and when they do anything, however minor, the police department often treats me with contempt should they have to deal with any petty issues. Serve and protect is often less priority than "do not bother us". There are some extremely good officers but there are those who have more hostility and contempt than is healthy for a police officer. It is interesting to note that studies have shown the as a whole, police officers score high on the sociopathy scale. The same is true for military special forces. I am a strong believer in the need for laws and appropriate enforcement. Without this our society would descend into anarchy. I think that enforcement of petty issues should never take priority over those things that matter. It is a form of busy work that justifies budgets and potentially increases the bureaucracy. No one is willing to address methods for improved methods for efficiency and delivery of services and I mean NO ONE !

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