EAST ELMHURST — After the Valentine’s Day shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. in Parkland, Fla., left 18 people dead and provided another grim reminder that school shootings are no longer rare, Msgr. McClancy Memorial H.S., East Elmhurst, decided to take security into its own hands by installing bulletproof doors.
With the doors, along with security guards and surveillance cameras, the school bills itself as the “safest” in America. It has about 50 bulletproof doors. Every classroom and administrative office in the building has one, as do the gym and cafeteria.
McClancy ordered the doors from security firm The Discreet Defender, which is run by Anthony Cipri, a retired New York Police Department detective and McClancy graduate (class of 1990). The company has a metal and glass factory in Farmingdale, L.I.
“The night of the Parkland shooting I was sitting at home watching the news, and some of the things being told, I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. I was thinking of different things I could do to maybe alleviate some of the problems,” Cipri said.
With the help of his engineer brother, Cipri developed a door strong enough to withstand heavy gunfire.
“This door is able to stop a 9-millimeter, a .45, an AR-15 and a .308 round,” Cipri said. “The school was on board 110 percent from the minute we presented.”
The doors also lock from the outside once they are closed to provide another layer of safety.
On a personal level, Cipri’s interest in MClancy goes beyond just being an alum; his son is now a freshman there.
“I know this is the safest place for him to be, other than at home,” Cipri said. “If kids are scared to go to school, how is it possible to learn in a school setting?”
Brother Joseph Rocco, S.C., the school’s president, said the doors are an important step in making McClancy safe.
“Unfortunately, this is what we have to do these days,” Brother Joseph said. “Here at McClancy High School, we want to continue the tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, to provide a sanctuary and a place for our students to feel safe, to learn and to experience the security they need for a good education.”
Students say they do feel safer with the doors. “I feel there’s an added sense of security coming to school every day, knowing that I’m safe and that, whether it’s fire or a shooter, everyone’s protected here,” said senior Noelle Salaun.
Senior Roy Cronin-Finlay said he feels “100 percent safe” with the bulletproof doors. “I came here as a freshman with wooden doors… so these are definitely safer,” he said. “But it’s disappointing to know we’ve come to this. Long ago we didn’t have to worry about these things.”