Dani Templet set her sights higher than most when it came to establishing her senior project at Hahnville, and when it was over, the soon-to-be University of Louisiana-Lafayette student said it was one of the richest experiences of her life. Templet, who plans to one day pursue a career in law enforcement, was a key organizer and planner for this year’s active shooter drill, which was held on a high school campus for the first time in the exercise’s five-year history.
The training exercise was held as a collaborative effort with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and St. Charles Parish Public Schools. It is intended as a measure to allow officers, fire personnel, medical responders, parish workers, St. Charles Parish Hospital Emergency Room, and school personnel to better respond to a mass casualty event, such as a school shooting or terror attack.
Templet helped plan scenarios, created forms for her fellow students and exercise participants and acted as a liaison between the school board, students, the parish schools and Sheriff’s Office.
“I had participated in it my freshman year at R.K. Smith and the Satellite Center,” Templet said. “I really enjoyed it but didn’t get really involved in it. I started wondering if I could do something with it for my senior project … I e-mailed Miss Abbey around the first week of school in August and she let me know not only were we holding one this year (the exercise is not held annually), but it would be at Hahnville. So it was kind of perfect.”
From that day through the Jan. 20 drill, Templet was in motion, planning, meeting with people and finding ways to balance all of it with her school work. It was the first time someone had incorporated the active shooter drill into a senior project, so she had little precedent to rely on. It was also the largest version of the exercise held in its history, with the larger campus in play.
“I think I had over 30 meetings, in total,” Templet said. “It took a lot of effort. I think the final count was 105 hours in total (devoted to the project). We were going from 200 participants to 1,000. There were a lot of moving parts.”
Part of her responsibilities included examining buildings and classrooms to determine which ones would be “out of play” for the exercise, be it because of space issues or to protect sensitive equipment from being damaged.
She also addressed faculty just before the exercise was launched, giving instruction — that part, she said, was rather nerve-wracking.
“I’m talking to the people I look up to, in terms of ‘This is what you need to do,’” she said. “That was a big challenge for me.”
Though she faced her fair share of stress—“I probably had three legitimate panic attacks simply because there was so much to get done,” she said — Templet called the day of the drill “the most excited I’ve ever been.”
“I remember not sleeping at all because I knew I had a team counting on me and they needed me to take this seriously,” she said. “I filmed a lot of it. At one part, I was just laughing … I know that seems odd and inappropriate, but I was just watching everything we planned out falling into place. I was so happy … it was a serious situation, but this was my baby.”
She dreams of one day becoming an FBI agent — getting to meet an agent through the school exercise was an opportunity she was very pleased with — and said the behind the scenes work of catching a criminal and solving a crime is what fascinates her the most. At ULL, she will major in criminal justice and minor in political science.
“I want to be a hero, but I don’t need to be named as a hero,” she said. “People don’t know the names of FBI agents, but they know what they do and what they accomplish. I want to solve issues and break things down. If it’s not the FBI, maybe Homeland Security or the Secret Service. They all work hand in hand, and I know I want to be in that world.”