St. Benedict School Principal George Nace (center), school maintenance supervisor Kelly Seese and Geistown police Chief Nicholas Zakucia complete a walk-through of the building following a safety drill Thursday.

Students at St. Benedict Catholic School were locked inside classrooms Thursday when Geistown police showed up.

It was a drill.

The school on Bedford Street was locked down preparing for an actual emergency.

School Principal George Nace described it as a level 3 emergency.

“It’s the worst stage, where we have an active shooter,” he said.

Doors were locked and blinds were drawn as more than 260 students, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, hid themselves.

Nace, along with maintenance supervisor Kelly Seese and Geistown police Chief Nicholas Zakucia, patrolled the corridors.

“Safety is our No. 1 concern,” Nace said.

“With what’s been going on in society, we’ve been working with the county and the police chief to make sure we’re where we need to be.”

The school upgraded safety protocols at the start of the 2013 school year in the wake of school shootings around the country.

Twenty children and six adults were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.

The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, then committed suicide after he killed his mother at their Newtown home.

The incident was called the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school in U.S. history and the second-deadliest mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

“The more we practice, the better we become and the safer we are,” Zakucia said. “Especially when you’re dealing with the safety of the children here at the school.”

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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