Gurnee police and Woodland Elementary District 50 are combining forces to produce a professional video to help enhance school safety.
Following the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Woodland engaged in discussions with the Gurnee police regarding the district's safety and security measures in place.
One area that was addressed as needing improvement involved the timing of when new staff and substitute teachers are trained during the school year at Gurnee-based Woodland. At the beginning of the school year, members of the Gurnee Police Department train all new staff regarding lockdown procedures.
However, staff hired during the school year receive no training until the following year.
Police suggested joining the school district to develop a DVD that all new staff would be required to watch that would review what to do in the event of a lockdown.
"Our partnership includes annual training and frequent drills to be certain all school and police staff are aware of the safety procedures in place. This video project will fill a gap by providing critical information to newly hired faculty and staff who missed that annual training," Gurnee Police Chief Kevin Woodside said
Moreover, what began as a good idea has evolved into one that now involves a professional actor and producer/director from the Chicago TV and film industry, a crew of cinematographers, lighting, technical support from Columbia College, deputy sheriffs from the Lake County Sheriff's office, and makeup/hair stylists from a Gurnee spa. A Wadsworth restaurant will provide food to the cast and crew.
Taping is set for 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee.
Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik was pleased to learn about the effort.
"The village strives to provide a safe environment for our children," Kovarik said. "Our police department does a great job in the schools with the DARE program and the safety drills. I think this project is fabulous, and a way to use technology to broaden the reach and reinforce the message of this lifesaving information."
First in the process was the casting call. Held at the Gurnee Police Department last month, officers were recruited to be part of the project. Woodland also is creating a crew of middle school students to appear as extras in the film and work with the professional crew behind the scenes. All of those involved with the creation are doing so for free.
"While the original purpose of this video was to share it with new Woodland employees, we are also hopeful that other school districts may find the DVD beneficial," said District 50 Superintendent Joy Swoboda.
"We are most appreciative of the collaborative relationship we have with the Gurnee Police Department, and thank them for their support to further enhance safety measures so that our district will remain a safe learning environment for our children and staff."