May 28, 2020

Security shades for schools made by Williston firm


Observer courtesy image
Kelly Conklin and Gordon Clements of Gordon’s Window Decor.

Allen Brook School a testing site

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

A family-owned shade and blinds manufacturer based in Williston released a line of shades this spring that aims to put the safety of schoolchildren and educators first — and a classroom in the Allen Brook School is one of the first installation sites in the country for the product.

“Like all of you, we’ve had to watch as unthinkable events unfold across the country,” said Kelly Conklin, president of Gordon’s Window Decor, in a promotional video. “The emergencies that schools have to prepare for are horrifying. The team at Gordon’s Window Decor began to think about ways to help make schools safer,” she said about the firm, located on Leroy Drive.

The shades, called SecureShade, are roller shades that can be controlled from a central office or from a remote control and, using an emergency setting, will fall instantly and simultaneously with other shades, blocking the view of the classrooms from the outside of the building.

When the button is pressed, “every blind in the school lowers quickly, automatically and simultaneously. And any designated staff member has the ability to make this happen,” said Conklin in the video. “This means that the moment emergency strikes, staff can focus on getting students to safe areas faster while keeping themselves safer in the process.”

During the day and in every other application, the shade works “as you would expect, keeping classes and workplaces more comfortable,” said Gordon Clements, the founder and vice president of special projects.

The first actual lockdown test with the SecureShade took place at Allen Brook School in May,  with great success, Clements said. In footage from the test run, Allen Brook schoolchildren are sitting at a small table and jump slightly, reacting with awe, as the shades in the classroom all drop at once. A few clap afterwards.

“This is great,” said Shari Carr, a school behavior specialist the company interviewed afterwards.

“[It] can instantly secure the buildings and cover the windows to keep our students and our teachers safe. It was instant! They dropped and it was perfect!” she said.

Conklin said that Allen Brook School’s original purchase from Gordon’s was for regular roller shades, but that the company upgraded them to the SecureShade technology so they could test the product and see it in action.

‘“They were phenomenal,” she said about Allen Brook’s staff.

“Part of what makes doing business in Vermont fantastic is having these kinds of connections with the school and with the community, and that’s why I think for a product that’s this important, having it developed in Vermont is a great thing.”

Summit Street School in Essex Junction is the only other local school that has installed the new shades since they were released, putting them in a front administrative office.