By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Local officials want to be prepared for anything when it comes to keeping children safe, and Vinemont Elementary School has paved the way for Cullman County allowing students to complete a digital identification program.
Vinemont Elementary Principal Tony Johnson connected with the Grand Masonic Lodge of Alabama months ago to schedule the civic club to come to the school and allow students to go through an identification process creating digital packets to be sent home with them.
“Our students who completed the process now have an I.D. packet at home with their personal information on a CD,” Johnson said. “The Masons’ audio recorded the students, so they would have a voice sample, took full color digital photos with different poses, fingerprinted the students, and also had hair and eye color, distinguishing marks, and other information that was all uploaded onto a CD to be taken home. If something were to happen to a child who went through the process, the CD can be sent to law enforcement for help in finding that child.”
Vinemont Elementary is the first school in Cullman County to offer this process and Johnson said it’s a great asset to have available for the safety of students.
“It was a great thing to have the students go through,” Johnson said. “I would absolutely recommend other schools to go through it. We would like to think and hope kids wouldn’t be taken, but it does happen and we feel like it was important to participate in this program.”
Johnson said they sent home flyers, letters and made two call-outs to parents of Vinemont Elementary students .
“Parents sometimes say they don’t want their children’s information on the Internet or to be easily accessible, with this program the kids information isn’t saved anywhere but on the CD we sent home to the parents,” Johnson said. “It helped us to be able to communicate this to the parents that it was a secure procedure. We were hoping to get 50% of our students through the program and we were able to do that.”
Johnson said 244 of the 488 students at Vinemont Elementary went through the program.
“It was a great partnership locally with the Grand Lodge,” Johnson said. “We want to keep safety number one here at the school for our kids.”
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext 270.