School’s safety plan requires students to arm themselves with canned goods to throw at shooter

A northern Alabama middle school is asking parents to send children to school with canned foods – so they can throw the cans at a school shooter if one ever shows up.

The suspiciously inefficient self-defense plan was announced in a letter sent home by W.F. Burns Middle School Principal Priscilla Holley, according to WHNT 19, a Huntsville station.

In the letter, Holley praised the virtues of culinary combat.

“We realize this sounds odd, however it is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard,” Holley wrote.


Well, it does sound odd, on any number of levels. The main one, though, is how exactly a parent is supposed to hand a can of corn to a kid and explain what he’s supposed to do if a guy with a gun starts shooting in the classroom. (Middle school-aged students are generally at the beginning of the “parents can’t be trusted” stage. At this point, utter insanity on the parents’ part is probably not much of a help.)

Another question that isn’t addressed in the letter — in in any over the news coverage about it — is where exactly the canned food is suppose to be stored once these Davids-in-waiting actually get it to school.

Keeping all the cans in one spot would centralize the ammo, making it vulnerable to a gunman who knew what to look for. Letting kids keep it handy at all times seems sensible, but could prove distracting over the entire second half of the school year. (And what if, as is inevitable, some middle school spat turns ugly and the cans come out?)

Not to worry, Chambers County Schools Superintendent Kelli Hodge told WHNT, it’s part of a carefully thought-out plan developed by a former teacher and SWAT officer called ALICE, for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

The idea behind the program, is to give students some way to fight back and flee school shooters rather than hiding and waiting to be slaughtered by some homicidal maniac.

Well, maybe, but a 13-year-old with a can of food — even a classroom full of them — isn’t going to be in much of a position to stop a determined gunman.

And if, in the blessed event the school year comes to a close before any such gunman appears?

“We hope the canned food items will never be used or needed, but it’s best to be prepared,” Holley wrote. “At the end of the school year, the cans will be donated to The Food Closet.”

Once they’re empty, someone can use them for target practice.


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