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Truth About The Safe To Tell Locker

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The Safe to Tell Locker near the weight room

The Safe to Tell Locker near the weight room

Jordan Fox

Jordan Fox

The Safe to Tell Locker near the weight room

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Putting an anonymous note in a locker may seem like the ancient version of Gossip Girl, but Aspen High School’s Safe to Tell Locker is working to have the opposite impact. AHS recently installed a Safe to Tell Locker near the weight room as a way for students to anonymously report dangerous activity.

So far it has mainly been used to notify the administration of safety issues, cheating issues, and jokes.

Many student have become sceptical of the locker and believe that there are cameras inside it that could be used to get students in trouble for leaving notes. According to AHS principal, Tharyn Mulberry, there are not cameras inside the locker, but there are cameras around the school. 

In addition, he stated that checking those cameras in order to see who left a note would be “disingenuous and dishonest.”

Paul Hufnagle, the school resource officer, also added that even though the school has the ability to look at the footage from cameras near the locker, they are respecting student’s anonymity.

“So the administrators have decided that they are not going to look at those cameras, they are not going to go back over that video, and they are not going to check so that it does remain anonymous,” Hufnagle said.  

If you were to drop a note into the locker, it would be picked up by Paul Hufnagle, who checks the locker twice a day. From there, any note that raises concern would be passed on to either principal Mulberry or vice principal Sarah Strassburger who then work to get students the help that they need. For students who don’t want to submit notes to the locker, they can submit notes to the online Safe to Tell or call the number, 1-877-542-7233.

“[The locker] is just the starting point, not the ending point,” Mulberry said. “All it does is give us an opportunity to investigate something.”

While they do take all notes very seriously, they are quickly able to sense which notes are jokes.

“You don’t get suspended because someone put an anonymous letter in a locker,” Mulberry said. “There needs to be a little bit more than that.”

Hufnagle raised concerns that the student body has not been taking the locker seriously but believes that as time goes on, students will realize the many benefits of the locker. He also stated that more of the notes he has found have been jokes than have been serious.

Almost all of the students interviewed said that they either don’t take the locker seriously, have used it as a joke, or have had a negative comment placed in it about themselves. Other students stated that they used it as a joke to see what would happen, writing rumors or notes to get other students in trouble. Students have also etched what some believe is a swastika and the word “fake” into the locker. Both have been partially scratched out but not painted over. AHS sophomore Ava Ostrander sees both the positive and negative aspects of the locker.

“I know that it is an easier way for people to tell the student body and staff members what’s going on, but then again, I think it is also a way for people to get back at people,” Ostrander said.

The Safe to Tell campaign was started after the shooting that occurred at Columbine High School in 1999. According to the US Secret Service and US Department of Education, in 81% of cases, someone knew the incident was going to happen but didn’t say anything for fear of being labeled the snitch. The Safe to Tell system was implemented in many schools around Colorado to give students an anonymous way to give information and prevent another dangerous situation.  

“This is just for that group of kids that is hesitant to have that conversation with an adult,” Mulberry said.

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