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October 08, 2006

At North Hagerstown High School...



Reporter: Jennifer Fitch

Time spent in school: 20 minutes

North Hagerstown High School was serving pasta with cheese on Thursday.

I know this because I walked around the cafeteria four times in the 20 minutes I spent inside the school.

I arrived at the school at 10:59 a.m. and parked in a visitor parking space. While still in my vehicle, I saw a student pressing a button to be permitted inside the doors closest to me.

Because of this, I went around the back of the building. The first set of back doors I checked was locked.

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I continued around the building, passing a physical education class with about 25 students and a teacher who made eye contact with me. I noted, as I passed, that two sets of gym doors were propped slightly open.

I ducked around the corner and paused, waiting for the class to clear the lot behind me. Then I doubled back, passed one door and let myself in the other one at 11:04 a.m.

I found myself at the far end of the gym. A boys' class was gathered in a corner nearby, so I cut diagonally across the gym floor and pushed open a set of doors that led to the cafeteria.

From the cafeteria, I cut down a hallway and went past several classrooms. At 11:08 a.m., I used a student restroom, drawing a strange look from a girl but no comment.

I continued to walk around the first floor and had a faculty member ask, "How are you?" I responded, "Fine, thank you," and returned the question.

When I first reached the second floor, the double doors were locked, preventing me from accessing the hallway. I later found another set of stairs and walked around the second floor for several minutes, stopping to read posters with illustrations of vocabulary words such as "accost."

I returned to the first floor, wandered around a bit longer and traveled through the cafeteria at least three more times. I stopped at a ladies' restroom, asked the students if there was a line, paused in a stall for a minute and then went to the main office.

At the office, I asked a student behind the desk if the principal was available. She sent me back to the principal's office, which was open with no one inside.

I left my business card and departed from the office. I considered wandering around a bit more, but instead walked out the nearest doors and returned to my vehicle.




At E. Russell Hicks Middle School...



Reporter: Andrew Schotz

Time spent inside: 20 minutes

At E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Hagerstown, there are eight sets of double doors at the front entrance - four to the right, four to the left.

On the left side, I found the only open door and went in. I held the door open for a man who appeared to be a contractor doing work at the school.

From the main office, you can't directly see who enters the building through any of the double-doors. Instead, a camera is trained on the bank of doors to the left and another is trained on the doors to the right.

The cameras are linked to a monitor on the desk of a secretary, who is supposed to look at the monitor and watch who comes in. However, at the end of my visit, I was told that one of the cameras was broken.

I also was told that the door I entered is used as an exit at the end of the day, but is supposed to be locked so that no one can open it from the outside.

A sign in the front window directs visitors to stop at the main office to check in. I didn't. I walked the halls for 20 minutes.

I went everywhere I wanted to. I spent a minute or two in an empty gymnasium. I stopped briefly in a cafeteria teeming with active youngsters. I followed a staircase to an out-of-the-way music room.

Many classrooms were in session with the doors open. Dozens of students filed past me, with chaperones, when their lunch period was over.

I passed the main office a few times. Each time, the secretary was either busy at her desk or away from her desk.

It wasn't until the 20th minute or so that an adult talked to me. That happened after I went down a set of steps into an alcove and hit a dead-end at an office. No one was there.

A man noticed me and asked if I was looking for the person who uses that office. I said no, I was looking for the principal. He gave me directions and walked away.

During those 20 minutes, I passed maybe 15 to 20 adults, some several times. Some visibly wore identification badges; some didn't. A few looked me in the eye in the halls; most didn't.

I stopped in the main office at the end of my visit and met Assistant Principal Kelly Buckwalter.




At Fairview Elementary School...



Reporter: Dave McMillion

Time spent inside: 0

I arrived at Fairview Elementary School in Waynesboro, Pa., at about 1:12 p.m. on Thursday and parked my car a short distance from the school along Fairview Avenue.

As I approached the school, I saw a door on the same side of the building as the main entrance.

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