It was the first day back in class since a riot broke out at West Bladen High School on Monday, but before students could get to class, they had to get through security. Monday’s fights resulted in 12 student arrests; parents said something needed to be done. “I would like to see some stricter discipline going on. Not only from the parents of the children, but from the school,” said Sarah Baysden. On Wednesday, some parents got their wish. Nearly all of the 900 students at West Bladen walked through a metal detector before they walked to their classes. Students started arriving at school around 7:00 a.m. and lines quickly formed. “It does take a while, but safety is very important and we've got to get a positive learning environment in the school for the students to learn,” said Superintendent Ken Dinkins. Even though there were no weapons used in the fights on Monday, Dinkins said he wanted to make sure the students felt safe. It took five extra sheriff's deputies to search through book bags and wand students. The extra safety measures delayed classes for almost an hour. Bladen County Chief Deputy Phillip Little said there are still several steps to get to the root of the problem. “It takes treatment, prevention, and enforcement.” Little said school violence is an issue all of Bladen County is dealing with, but the timing for Monday's fights at West Bladen couldn't have been worse. “The school had just lost one of it's favorite students, and was in a state of mourning already, and then we have these thugs come in and create the disruption and disrupt that healing process that needed to be on going at the school.” Maybe now that healing process can resume, as students remember Cody Hammonds who drowned on Sunday. Doctor Dinkins said the walk through metal detectors won't stay at the school permanently, but they have used them randomly in the past and will use them again in the future. Principals at all Bladen County schools have hand held metal detectors in case of emergencies.
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