CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– It was a much different start to the day on Wednesday at Centennial High School in Champaign. Students walked through metal detectors for the first time.
“It was a little bit scary, because, ‘What’s going on?'” sophomore David Carlson shared. “It was scary and confusing.”
Carlson was one of about a dozen students that approached WCIA 3 on the sidewalk after school.
“I think it’s good for safety reasons in terms of how the first month has been,” said Senior Adam Simmons.
Shots were fired in a field next to the high school last week, and Champaign Police said a student brought a gun to school exactly two weeks ago.
We asked the school district if the metal detectors were in response to these incidents. That question was not answered.
“I also feel like the execution today was interesting, just because it took about 30 minutes to get into the school, so I know that a lot of teachers and students were saying, like, they basically missed their whole first hour,” Simmons added.
“I missed my first-period class,” freshman Kamryn Terry chimed in. “…I only had like 20 minutes of my second period. It’s too much to go through.”
The school district later responded to our questions in an email late Wednesday evening, saying, “This morning’s process to enter Centennial took a little extra time, however, no students were marked tardy.”
The email response also clarified that they are not permanently installed in any building, adding, “They are the same metal detectors and wands being used at the stadium prior to football games…Again, the devices are for portable use across the district.”
Read the full statement from Champaign Unit 4 School District below:
“Here are the answers to your questions:
Unit 4 School District Superintendent Shelia Boozer recently announced that the District would begin using portable metal detectors and wands in schools on random days to reinforce safety in our buildings as gun violence in our broader community becomes more of a concern. This morning’s process to enter Centennial took a little extra time, however, no students were marked tardy.
These portable units are not permanently installed in any building. They are the same metal detectors and wands being used at the stadium prior to football games. The devices are funded through the Tort Funds Levy. Again, the devices are for portable use across the District. Unit 4 Schools continue to put the safety of each student and staff member as a top priority.“
We also reached out to the Champaign Police Department for an update on the shots fired investigation. The department released a photo of someone they believe was involved last Thursday. A spokesperson told us it remains under investigation Wednesday evening. There was no further update.
Centennial parents also got an email from the district about a social media threat Wednesday afternoon that they say may be directed at the school.
“We quickly launched an investigation and are working in partnership with the Champaign Police Department…Please be assured the safety of each student and staff member remains a top priority,” the email read.