Nathan Hansen's favorite 2013 stories
Still, for all of the good a group like PASS can do it’s impossible to ignore the reality that school shootings happen, and that if they can happen in a place like Sandy Hook they can happen in Farmington or Rosemount.
In June, I got to see how the Farmington and Rosemount police departments are preparing for that reality.
In a daylong training session held at Rosemount High School, local police officers learned how to handle situations involving active shooters in a school setting. They learned theory, and then with the help of some well-padded local Boy Scouts and some simulated ammunition they put that theory into practice.
I watched as police officers stormed classrooms or the school’s performing arts center. And while it was likely a fraction of the intensity of an actual shooting event, it was still pretty intense. The police officers shouted out instructions. Students playing victims ran for cover. Training officers slapped boards together to simulate the sound of gunfire.
The police officers there that day took the exercise very seriously. Nobody wants to be unprepared if the worst happens.
I can’t imagine the terror of a school shooting. I hope this is the closest I’ll ever have to come to covering one. But seeing the training was still fascinating.
One of the first times I talked Ron Thomas, he was showing me plans for something he called Dakota County Technical College’s Field of Dreams. It was a huge athletic complex he hoped to build on property around the school.
The field didn’t happen at the time, although there are reflections of it in the soccer and baseball fields that have gone up in recent years, and in other public play fields that are taking shape with the help of the city of Rosemount. But it was a good indication of the way Thomas, who retired this year as DCTC’s president, looked at things. He wanted good things for his school, and he wasn’t afraid to think big.
There were other people who played roles in getting those things done, obviously. But Thomas was there to push them. To inspire them.
As a result, DCTC has a first-of-its-kind nanotechnology program. It has varsity sports programs and those new fields. It has a vastly expanded student-life organization and a thriving foundation. And, most recently, it has made dramatic renovations to the space dedicated to its automotive and welding programs.
DCTC is a very different place than it was when Thomas took over. It is most definitely a better place.