Male students must report to Hazleton Area High School through the main entrance while the girls access the building through separate doors. All students must pass through metal detectors and allow a security guard to inspect backpacks, purses and similar items. The backlog through security screening meant some students were about a half-hour late for the start of home room which begins at ten minutes before 8 o'clock. Principal Rocco Petrone says it wasn't really a problem. "I build extra time into first period because first period is part of home room so we don't have 2,000 students going from home room to first period class. So, teachers have plenty of time and they won't lose any instructional time as far as home room is concerned."
Mr. Petrone says district transportation will play a critical role in speeding along the security process. "Buses will start running more efficiently as well because you have the bus driver running their runs for the first time which means in turn students will get here earlier, go right into the building."
Hazleton Area's security upgrade comes after an incident last semester when three teens were arrested after dozens of bullets were found in the boy's lavatory. Some students seemed frustrated by the metal detector delay -- but others were understanding."It's taking a little while but I think it's just because it's the first day. I think it's a good idea so it makes everyone stay safe," said Hazleton Area Sophomore Ali Stahr. Superintendent Antonelli added, "We'll trade a few minutes for the students safety at any day of the week."
Superintendent Antonelli says school officials will review the security screening process to see if it can be expedited, but overall he's pleased with the first day results.