In wake of terror attacks, how safe is Massapequa?


Carolyn Cole // MCT Campus

Solidarity after the attacks on November 13.

“At any one time, there are people plotting against us,” Congressman Peter King said to Advanced Placement Government students in a seminar at Massapequa High School. “New York and Long Island are the most targeted [places] in the world.”

King’s words came just a day before the vicious terrorist attacks on Paris, France, and less than a month prior to the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. These attacks raised questions, internationally as well as domestically, about the power and progress of the radicalized Islamic state, ISIS (also known as ISIL).

Standing for Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, ISIS promotes jihadist actions, wherein radicalized Muslims have a “responsibility” to engage in warfare against non-believers.

Over the last few years, especially in the past few months, ISIS and affiliated radical extremists orchestrated violent attacks on non-believers.  On November 13, 2015, over one hundred and thirty people were killed by jihadists around the city of Paris. Although the attacks happened overseas, the  repercussions of attacks on Paris were felt around the world.

“When I first heard of the attacks, I was not aware of the scale on which they had been carried out,” senior Kristen Moldovan said. “As more information was released and I realized the extensive fatalities, the only question running through my mind was ‘Why does this keep happening?’”

Less than a month later, yet another act of terrorism occurred; in San Bernardino, California, fourteen Americans were killed by radicalized Muslims at the Inland Regional Center on December 2, 2015.

Following the attacks, President Barack Obama gave a rare speech from the Oval Office on December 6, addressing his fellow Americans on terrorism.  The President supported continued air strikes in ISIL’s landholdings, opposed the use of land troops, and called for national unity on fighting against terrorism without discriminating against peaceful Muslims.

“Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving in to fear,” President Obama said.

Obama’s speech was watched by millions nationally, including students and staff at Massapequa High School.

“President Obama was trying to use the bully pulpit [using his position to speak on an important issue] to reassure Americans that his administration is doing something to combat ISIS and other terrorist threats,” Advanced Placement Government teacher Suzanne Borger said.

At large, students at Massapequa High School are concerned with the growing numbers of international and domestic terrorists. In a survey conducted by The Chief in which over eighty Massapequa High School seniors were polled, a definitive 69 percent felt that “dealing with ISIS and terrorism” was one of the most important issues to be addressed in the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

ISIS thrives on fear and paranoia— how can one know that they are safe when it is increasingly possible that attacks can happen at any time, at any place?

In order to prevent such attacks at any scale, MHS takes several safety precautions in order to keep its students and faculty safe each school day.

When asked how the recent attacks on Paris and San Bernardino affected his approach to school safety, Dean of Students Mr. Patrick Howard adamantly stated that they have not.

“[It is possible that] someone could walk in, it’s an open campus,” Mr. Howard said. What does MHS security do to prevent this? “We monitor the flow of students, we check all doors periodically…we have heightened security everyday.”

Teachers at MHS are also prepared in case of emergencies, such as school wide lockdowns.

“The school trains us and prepares us in case something happens,” Spanish teacher Karen Oliveira said. “With everything that has happened, I want to make sure my students are safe.”

Thus, Massapequa High School students need not constantly worry about possible terror attacks. However, it is imperative that students must remain informed and aware of the possible threats to their safety.

Ultimately, the United States needs to do what is necessary to deconstruct ISIL abroad while simultaneously preventing attacks domestically. Although it is unclear how the government will accomplish these objectives, it is clear that if not enough is done, the very values that the United States cherishes—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness— are in danger.

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