Cherokee Elementary back to normal after shooting near school forces lockdown

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It was back to normal for students at Cherokee Elementary Wednesday. The school went on a precautionary lockdown following a shooting few miles away Tuesday. The principal is pleased everyone followed the proper safety procedures and that nobody was hurt yesterday.

Cherokee's 257 students got a special visit Wednesday morning from Principal Tina. She's making sure everyone is okay.

"If you ask my students, 'What is Mrs. Bankston's number one job?' I know they are going to tell you without a doubt her number one job is to make everyone safe," Bankston said.

That safety was put to test Tuesday.

"Our coach was out in the back with students and he noticed someone that had no business on school property. He quickly got his students in, and we went into lockdown immediately. The Pascagoula Police showed up in a matter of minutes," said the principal.

The principal said the students and staff didn't panic because they practice lockdown drills at least twice a school year.

"They are behind locked doors. The lights are off. We go around and check the doors to make sure all the doors were locked. It is very, very quiet. We don't hear any noises, and we don't hear people moving around," Bankston said, describing the lockdown.

The principal pointed out that security is always tight at Cherokee Elementary. Even WLOX had to buzz in before entering the school.

"There are no doors that are unlocked. When visitors come to the school, there is only one door they come to. To gain access to the school you have to mash the button and you hear someone at the front desk ask, 'May I help you?' When people come in they have to go straight to the office, they get a visitor pass like you did, and you sign a visitors' log," said Bankston.

Bankston said safety should never be taken lightly, and she's proud of the way her students handled Tuesday's tense moments.

"And they [the students] are proud of themselves that they did a good job, that people recognized that and that they knew everyone was safe."

The school district provides a policy and procedure training to faculty and staff members yearly. All 19 schools follow the same safety rules.

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