Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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April 19, 2013

Sandy Hook inspires invention

BENTON ­— Darin Holsopple sat in his classroom, staring at the door, a problem weighing heavily on his mind and heart.

It was Dec. 17, 2012, the first school day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. All the Fairfield seventh-grade math teacher and father of three could think about was how he would protect his students should the unthinkable happen.

He stared at the door. All he could see was the window above the handle. It had bothered him each and every time he and his students ran a lockdown drill. As soon as he came up with a solution, he tossed it aside. A desk or a pile of books was not going to stop an intruder from breaking the glass and opening the locked door.

But in light of recent events, he was not going to sit by and hope nothing happened.

Holsopple did the only thing he could think to do, and that was sit in his classroom and pray.

“Almost immediately, I had an idea and general design,” he said. “I really feel this is something God has given to me to help protect kids.”

His original idea was a simple block of wood that could fit over the door’s lever-style handle. Over the next few days, he tinkered with it and came up with a latching mechanism for it as well. The Security Door Block was born.

Once he thought he had something workable, he headed to the school office to get feedback from administrators. He happened to catch Principal Ben Tonagel, Superintendent Steve Thalheimer and School Resource Officer Daphne Coy, who all thought he was onto something.

“I thought it was an innovative way to address a concern,” Thalheimer said.

An advantage Tonagel noticed right away was its size – the Security Door Block is small, easy to access and easy to install.

“This has a lot of potential to meet needs in schools,” he said.

Holsopple pursued his idea and attended a number of fire code meetings in Indianapolis. When he first presented the idea to fire officials and other code enforcement officers, they loved it.

“They jumped all over it and really encouraged me to move on with it,” he said.

Holsopple enjoys tinkering and small home projects, but had no idea where to begin in finding a manufacturer for his project. He discussed his problem with a fellow elder at his church, and another solution came to him. His friend thought his employer, Poly-Wood in Syracuse, could do it.

They could.

In a whirlwind over the next few months, Holsopple received a provisional patent, created a web site, and almost as soon as the web site was live, started getting inquiries and orders. He received his first box of prototypes last week.

“There is such a need,” Holsopple said. “No child should ever have to feel in danger when they’re in school and no parent should feel apprehensive when they send their child to school.”

He loves teaching and coaching, and doesn’t want to give that up or try to run a business on the side. His hope is that over the next year or so, he can license the Security Door Block to a larger company and see them in place in schools, businesses, day cares and churches across the country.

Thalheimer said that officially, the corporation is examining the perimeters of buildings first, and then could see administrators considering the Security Door Block in the second tier of security measures.  

If Fairfield does place an order, Holsopple said he knows where he will start. The thoughts that brought him the idea may have been how to keep the students in his classroom safe, but his first act of doing so will be that of a father.

“As soon as I get measurements,” he said, “I want to make the first delivery to my daughter’s kindergarten classroom.”

For more information, visit www.securitydoorblock.com.

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