Milford High training anticipates a possible attack by a gunman

Students and teachers in the Milford High cafeteria scattered during a safety drill Friday.
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Students and teachers in the Milford High cafeteria scattered during a safety drill Friday.

MILFORD — Milford High School teacher Amy Allegrezza is used to doing school safety drills, but this one was different.

For one thing, she heard the sounds of real gunshots coming from a police officer running down the hallways firing blanks from a .38-caliber handgun.

Instead of simply practicing the school’s traditional, stay-in-place lockdown, Allegrezza and more than 500 other teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, and school custodians were told Friday to consider new options, including breaking windows to escape, running zigzag through the school parking lot, and, as a last resort, fighting back if the intruder makes it ­into their classroom.


‘‘That was something to get us thinking. It got my heart racing, definitely,’’ said Allegrezza, who led about two dozen other teachers and school employees during one practice scenario in her classroom, as the sounds of gunshots rang out in the hallway. She ordered them to barricade the doors with filing cabinets, pull down the blinds, and keep quiet.

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In another scenario acted out in the school cafeteria, the 500 participants ran in different directions when the sounds of gunshots thundered just outside the room. Most ran outside through the cafeteria’s four doors, while about two dozen people fled through a side door into an adjoining teachers’ lounge, then barricaded the doors with long tables and chairs. One woman rolled her body over a lunch table in a mad scramble to get out of the cafeteria.

School Superintendent ­Robert Tremblay said he decided to expand the school staff’s safety training after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

‘‘Staying in place and hiding under a desk may not be the best solution at all,’’ Tremblay said. “The best solution may be to get out.”

The training, given to the school employees during professional development time, was conducted by Synergy ­Solutions Inc., a Franklin-based company that offers active shooter and incident management workshops to law enforce­ment and other groups.


Jay Brennan, company cofounder and a police sergeant in Medway, said the program advocates fighting back as a last resort. ‘‘If you are confronted with an aggressor — he’s coming into your room — you may have to take action,’’ he told the group. ‘‘Study your surroundings for a possible weapon.’’