BY EMILY BRANDYBERRY, ANNA WOLFINGER & MICAH BECK
After seeing images and videos on social media, Wadsworth residents were surprised to find out that during the nationally televised episode of “Shooting USA,” Wadsworth High School was used as a facility to train teachers while being armed in the case of an active shooter, despite the fact that Wadsworth City Schools does not endorse arming staff members.
The training program, called FASTER Saves Lives, a branch of Buckeye Firearms Association, was administered at Wadsworth without the knowledge of the students, parents, and most of the staff.
Although the FASTER program trains armed teachers, Wadsworth City Schools does not promote arming staff members. In March 2018, in the immediate aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, FL, the Board of Education held a public forum, discussing whether or not teachers should be armed.
“We had discussed it a couple of years ago, but we ultimately decided that we didn’t need that here,” said Steve Moore, principal at Wadsworth High School.
Wadsworth City Schools rented Wadsworth High School to the FASTER program, as they do with many other groups and organizations. The school district was not aware of the fact that the program would be put on national television or even filmed.
“We have a policy that’s in place where we allow organizations to rent our facilities,” said Wadsworth Superintendent, Dr. Andrew Hill. “We allowed this one organization to do training here, however, I was not aware that there was going to be any kind of filming going on that would be a part of any TV channel.”
Even though Wadsworth teachers were not involved, students, staff and parents were not aware that this training would be occurring at their school or that it would be televised. When students found out about the training, they were shocked as to why their school was being used, and why they were not aware of this.
“I think that maybe there should be an email or something sent out to explain so that rumors do not start,” said Grace Pantalone, 10.
Many students upon watching the video for the first time were concerned and confused, as the use of WHS along with the purpose of this organization deceives viewers as to think Wadsworth High School is affiliated with FASTER and “Shooting USA.”
“This exposes our school to whoever, which could cause danger for us students knowing that anyone could now know the way around our school,” said Ella McNutt, 10. “With only some teachers and hardly any parents knowing about this, it could cause many parents and students to react with questions and the safety of their child while at our school.”
The training, which occurred in the summer of 2019 at Wadsworth High School, used airsoft guns to simulate an active shooter situation. The drills practiced require teacher involvement playing roles of students and teachers, none of which were from Wadsworth City Schools.
“It is representing our community just because of the fact that our school is being used and can easily be recognized by people in and outside our community,” said Haylee Joy, 10.
The FASTER program is run by Wadsworth native Chris Cerino, well known for being a runner-up on the History Channel’s Top Shot. Cerino has 26 years of law enforcement experience as well as 18 years of training law enforcement and civilians.
“They may have to do something that’s bloody, violent and dirty. If this offends them, they need to wash out,” said Cerino in the TV promo.
This three-day course allows teachers to learn what it takes to be armed at school. It makes them realize the severity of the situation as well as understand that they may have to shoot someone whether it be an adult or student.
The full 20 minute segment will be aired again on Saturday, October 26, 2019, on the Outdoor Channel.