QUITMAN, Ark. — Quitman Schools are the first in the state to install ballistic steel safe room in every classroom.
The project cost the district nearly $1-million dollars to install 53 safe rooms across campus, including larger ones in the cafeteria and gymnasium.
Parents like Susan Johnson struggle with fear sending their children to school.
"That's the world we live in today,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s kids are Quitman High School students, where that same sense of fear is starting to dissolve.
"There's somewhere they can get and be safe whether it's a tornado or a shooter,” said Johnson.
Students seeing the steel structures across campus say it’s a change, and one they’ll get used to.
"I don't have to worry about what I'd do or where I'd go I know I have a place safe from harm,” said Nicki Hooten, a senior.
Once inside, the bolted doors quickly lock, students and staff are safe from countless threats, especially the most common one in Quitman, tornadoes.
The safe rooms are designed to withstand the violent force of an EF5 tornado.
It’s also designed and tested to resist all handgun and shot gun rounds.
"I wanted to take the best measures possible to protect as many as I could,” said Dennis Truxler, superintendent.
Truxler said it’ll take students less than two minutes to drop their books, head into the safety structure and be locked down, which brings peace to parents.
"I can't imagine the families that have to go through that, that their families were a part of a shooting,” said Johnson. “At least the amount of casualties would be drastically reduced having these shelters.”
Truxler said he did much research and ended up partnering with National Safety Shelters out of Florida to make the purchase.
“These last forever,” said Truxler. “They will never wear out. If we needed to move them to a different building for any reason, we can take them apart and do that.”