PESHTIGO — Peshtigo residents need not be alarmed today if they see the entire middle/high school population walking away from the school.

Peshtigo Middle/High Principal Chad Sodini told the school board Wednesday night everyone within the building will be taking part in an evacuation drill today beginning at 1 p.m. Students and staff members will be falling out to Zion Lutheran for this drill and in case of an emergency.

“It is a drill; it’s a controlled drill,” he said. “We do not want to scare people, but we want the public, parents and students to know where to go in the event of an emergency.”

Sodini said district administrators thought it was necessary to plan and practice an evacuation.

“It’s one of those things that has transitioned with society,” he said. “Students are very accustomed to doing fire drills — they know what to do and where to go. We practice our tornado drills every other month.

“We had a lock down drill today (Wednesday) using the door locks and jams. We do that because we want to get batter at it in the event of an emergency.”

Sodini said one thing administration talked about was the need to practice an evacuation drill — “a full-scale evacuation of our building.”

“When we met with the kids on the first day of school, I talked with them — not jokingly, but seriously — I asked them, ‘does anyone know where we fall out to in case  of an emergency?’ We had all of the kids in the gym and they didn’t know. There were a few that raised their hands, but I said, ‘if you’re thinking it’s the elementary, put your hands down.’”

Out of 600 students, we were probably left with five. I didn’t call on them because I didn’t think they knew.”

Sodini told the students, that in an emergency, they would go to Zion Lutheran Church.

“That’s where we’re supposed to go,” he said.

Vice principal Bill Wickman, Superintendent Patrick Rau, along with Sodini went to both Zion and St. Mary’s to look at their facilities.

“We needed to see if either of the places could house our students,” Sodini said.

The principal told the board Wickman had contacted the Peshtigo and City of Marinette police departments, Peshtigo Fire Department, Marinette County Sheriff’s Department and 911 dispatch in order to ensure everything moves smoothly.

“Another piece of the puzzle was that Mr. Rau contacted our staff,” Sodini said. “We’re trying to cover as many bases as possible. We want people to know that we are practicing a drill.”

The intent of the evacuation drill is for Sodini to make an announcement to students at 1 p.m. stating the building is to be evacuated. 

“The students and staff will work over to Zion,” he said. “We don’t know if this is going to take an hour or three. We think it will be a two-hour time frame to evacuate our building. We will have staff walk through to make sure the building is clear.”

Teachers will bring rosters of students and emergency plans in order to make this as seamless as possible.

“We need to figure out something something,” Sodini said. “We need to see if we fit. We think we will, but it will be very tight. We need to look at the procedures of entering the building. We know that will be difficult in the event of an emergency. We wanted our kids to be comfortable with that. 

 “The top priority is the safety of everyone involved. We want to really stress that with this drill and in a controlled setting.”