Bronx Lighthouse Charter School (BLCS) educates approximately 468 K-8 scholars in a four story facility in the South Bronx. Opened in August 2004, the artsy and culturally enriched school has made many excellent changes to its safety procedures by employing two Safety Officers for the first time. Two volunteers from Safe Halls Project, Inc. arrived at BLCS on Friday, October 24th 2014. They received a warm greeting by Stacy Winitt, principal; Reginald Samuel, senior school safety officer and the school therapy dog “Griffin.” Prior to this year, BLCS applied an open door policy; where visitors had the liberty to enter, remain and move throughout facility without showing ID. The new and safer policy was implemented by Stacy Winitt in August of 2014. Letters were sent to parents over the summer outlining changes in policies and parents were provided with a handbook.
Volunteers were escorted through well-lit hallways that gave favor to the many displays of artwork. It was important to remember not to allow the stairwell doors to close on its own; it made the only sound disturbing the soft voices of scholars at work. There were see-through front lockers in the halls (top over bottom) used by middle school scholars. The lockers have built in combination locks with a master key security access. Elevators are unlocked and governed by school policy for student use.
Morning drop off and staggered dismissals take place in rear of building on Rogers Place; which can be time consuming. There is a 15 mph traffic sign posted, yet speedy drivers, on occasion, make the one way street a safety hazard that deserves attention. A crossing guard is needed for the front of the building at the intersection of Westchester Avenue and Intervale Street; to assist walking scholars. Inside, teachers are positioned at the rear exits and within stairwells to observe scholars as they enter and proceed to lunchroom/gym areas. Scholars needing special attention are well known by teachers and safety officers. Teachers stay with scholars and make eye contact with parents or older siblings during dismissal. When a scholar is not picked up during the allotted time he or she is brought to the front lobby to wait with staff for parental pick up. The staff has a good rapport with Bronx Lighthouse College Prep. Academy High School, located immediately next door and all other surrounding schools. The following items listed were observed by SafeHalls’ volunteers.