New Fruitport HS designed with shooting in mind

Muskegon County

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s a sad state of affairs: Students must be prepared at all times for an active shooter in school. Now, one West Michigan school is designing its new building specifically to help kids stay alive.

The new Fruitport High School is still a hard hat zone, but administrators and designers are making sure that when the students get there, they’ll be as safe as possible.

“I think it’s necessary in this day and age when you build a $50 million high school to really go back and think about safety and security of the students,” said Matt Slagle, director of K-12 architecture at Tower Pinkster.

“We’re doing everything we told the community we’d do and then some,” Fruitport Community Schools Superintendent Bob Szymoniak said.

new fruitport high school door
A sign informs people approaching the new Fruitport High School that the door will be locked during the school day. (Aug. 26, 2019)

The new building has a security vestibule at the entrance. All of the doors can be locked via smartphone. There are also “wing walls,” which stretch a couple of feet out into the hall.

“What they do is they help cut down on furthering the line of sight of an active shooter,” Szymoniak explained during a Monday tour. “You see that the hall is curved. That reduces the line of sight and then these (wing walls) come out to reduce the line of sight further.”

Wing walls also give students a place to hide if they need to.

Each classroom has large windows looking out onto the hallway, allowing teachers to keep an eye on the hall.

“All of that glass will have impact-resistant film applied to it,” Szymoniak said. “If, God forbid, we had someone wanting to do harm in the hallway, it would take them a while to get through that glass.”

new fruitport high school exterior
The new Fruitport High School. (Aug. 26, 2019)

He said the security improvements are meant to blend in so students and visitors won’t notice that the school is different.

“I want our parents to know we are doing everything we can, not just in this building but in all our buildings, to keep all of our kids and all of our staff as safe as we possibly can,” he said.

Though the school will not be complete until 2021, students will begin moving in early next year.

—News 8’s Donovan Long contributed to this report.

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