Cherry Creek District Map
Cherry Creek School District Map

About Cherry Creek 

Located in Western Arapahoe County, Colorado, the Cherry Creek School District serves more than 300,000 residents. The district spans across eight municipalities, 108 square miles and is home to 53,000 students and 67 schools. The vastness of Cherry Creek presents numerous intricacies in terms of security including how can the district provide a uniform training that communicates to all parties? How can it integrate all its systems into one alerting platform that is timely, redundant and consistent in messaging? And most importantly, how can it minimize stress and anxiety for students and staff during lockdown drills and actual emergencies?

The challenge to design a security system that integrates with the various technologies to standardize their protocols across the district was evident. The district has some of the largest high schools in the region with over 4,000 students and multiple law enforcement and fire department jurisdictions. Like many school districts across the country, Cherry Creek has multiple buildings all built in different decades with aging technology. So, the question became, “how do we design and implement a security system that works across the district?”

Take a walk with us as we tag along with Cherry Creek’s physical security team during one of their lockdown drills to experience how they have successfully implemented Valcom systems to be the glue that enables them to successfully deploy an emergency alerting platform.

Chad Warren Ian

Teachers, Baseball Bats & Chairs

The emergency alert system Cherry Creek needed to be simple and easy to use, but also flexible and that works for all the stakeholders in the district including teachers, staff, students, the security team, First Responders and administrators. The system had to allow teachers and staff to reach out when a problem arose, but also be instantly notified when there was an issue.

Initial discussions revealed there was no consistent messaging, protocols or redundancy across the district. “Before we had no district wide protocols during lockdown drills," explains Trevor Van Luit, Security Coordinator with Cherry Creek Schools. "Buildings were responsible for lockdowns. Without uniformity or consistency across the district, the district’s Director of Safety and Security Ian Lopez explained another scenario in which the security team would encounter. "We would come in and pull the alarms, and all the kids would go into lockdown, and they don't know if it is real or not. The physical security team would knock on doors, announce and use keys to open doors, teachers were coming to the doors with bats and chairs.”

Cherry Creek’s priority was to implement a Standard Response Protocol (SRP) for the district to follow. “After the SRP was implemented, the Valcom system has helped with standardization and building a systematic approach across the schools and buildings, gave us the ability to customize emergency alerts to the Standard Response Protocol, but also cater to the geography of Colorado as well and allow for weather related alerts.”

With the Valcom emergency alert system in place, Cherry Creek was able to set a standard so students and staff see and hear the same type of alert.

Warren Ian

Integration and Redundancy Matter

When Valcom began its relationship with Cherry Creek School District in 2017 the District was using the Valcom system for bells and bell scheduling. "Where we really took off was with the Physical Security team and showed them all the capabilities that Valcom had," explains Geno Acosta, Regional Sales Manager with Valcom. 

The Valcom system is capable of much more and it was discovered that the system could be customized to fit the needs that Cherry Creek required.

"As we started to add more Valcom systems, we had a consistent way of building the emergency messaging, a consistent way of training and then we learned that School Safe radios and panic buttons could be integrated into the Valcom system." said Lopez. 
For emergency alerting, having the ability to integrate with all your existing infrastructure and devices is key. Integration allows for multiple networks of people to be notified during a crisis. Another important piece of emergency communication is redundancy. Redundancy in an emergency alerting system allows for multiple people to have access to the software to activate the emergency alerts from various devices.

"We learned that the Valcom system can notify the right people when things are happening, so you can have faster response times for emergencies and alert the right people outside of your district. We are learning that time matters and consistent communication matters and accurate information matters,” said Lopez.

The Valcom system has enabled Cherry Creek School District to tie all their pieces into one comprehensive Emergency Notification platform that alerts, communicates and reaches its staff and students in a timely matter.