Highlands High School manages student badges for the first time


A student’s identification badge.

After returning from winter break, all Highlands High School students were given an identification badge, with the main purpose being to grant access to school doors during the day and for after school activities. Now, after having these badges for a few weeks, students and staff alike have had time to reflect on how these badges have served their purpose. 

The idea for these badges arose for several reasons — the main one being school safety. The state of Kentucky’s safety measures prompted Highlands faculty to wonder how they could make the building more secure, both during and outside of the school day.

Principal Matthew Bertasso gave further evidence behind this idea, saying, “Because there are so many after-school activities going on at Highlands, the building was never really secure.”

However, with badges, students can unlock doors when needed, while the school remains secure once students are inside. Students mainly use their badges to get into school for after-school activities, which range from basketball practices to theatre rehearsals.

The initial cost of all of the badges was a pretty hefty one, so Highlands looked for monetary support in the community. Once the idea for the badges was approved, a board member reached out to a few business owners and professionals in the Fort Thomas community. State Farm Insurance Agent Tracy Davis agreed to help donate to the cost of the printer for the badges. 

Davis tries to pick things to donate to that align with her business, personal, and community values. 

She said, “The security and safety of our community is a high priority and a big piece of it is our schools and our students. I wanted to be part of making that happen. I was honored they considered a small business owner to partner with. I love this town, and we are very blessed as a family and as a business by the people in this town, the schools, and the city so we try to give back where/when we can.” 

The badges have helped keep the building more secure. However, some students are having issues unlocking the doors, such as Junior Aaron Cunningham. 

“Sometimes, I have to wait outside in the cold for someone to let me in. It feels like a 50/50 chance that it’ll work.”

Due to issues like this one, it is imperative to understand how the badges are programmed. The badges contain software on the backside that tells the doors who the students are, and the doors contain information on who should have access to that door. Those in charge of clubs and teams share the rosters of their activity with the school, and then students are just programmed into the door. During the school day, all students are programmed into the main entrances.  

For after school activities, Bertasso shares that, “Right now, it’s a matter of mixing and matching everything. We’re trying to align the doors that need to be unlocked with the students who need access to them.”

These students would include participants in clubs, performances, and sports. Freshman Kai Knauer is a member of Highlands Theatre and is used to the hassle of getting into the building during after school hours. 

“It was hard to get back in the building,” Knauer explained. “It is now easier to get back in [the school]. I can get in when I need to for rehearsals.” 

The badges were designed to give access to a new sense of responsibility to the students. Bertasso believes that this adjustment to the school will be empowering for students. 

Students are advised to go to badges.hhsbirds.com if they experience any issues with their badges in the weeks to come.