Local family donates device for St. Mary School's doors
Written by Dawn Parker
Out of a near-tragedy, one local family has created something they hope will ensure children's safety at school.
The BOOT is a rectangular-shaped plate of 1/4 inch thick cold-rolled steel that weighs slightly more than five pounds. Each of its two steel pegs offers 8,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) of tensile strength, totaling 16,000 PSI when both pegs are fully engaged.
The device, created and marketed by the Couturier family of Williamston, installs in minutes on the inside of a door. For doors which open out, as most classroom doors do, a metal strap holds The BOOT to the door.
If an intruder were to attempt to pull on the door, the strap is designed to prevent it from opening.
The Okemos-based company's product has earned the endorsement of numberous county sheriff's including Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth. In mid-Michigan, The BOOT is being used in the Dansville and Holt schools.
Other schools have shown interest and are in various stages of the approval process.
Brenann Couturier began her education at St. Mary, and the recent University of Michigan grad said the elementary school still holds a special place in her heart.
The family recently donated devices for each classroom door at the school, plus internal offices and the library.
The gift means a lot to the school, Principal Sue Penn said.
"This gift means we will no longer have to worry about the safety of our students. The are going to be safe for as long as it takes the police to get here should, heaven forbid, we ever need to have them come," she continued.
"We are so tremendously grateful to Brenann. It's an incredible gift, and we are just so pleased she enjoyed her stay here at St. Mary's....enough to think of us when her family invented this device."
Where safety is concerned, Brenann and her family have more reason than most to look after others.
In the fall of 2009, the the-UM freshman was home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Wanting some fresh air, the life-long runner donned her sneakers and headed for the high school track.
"I was running on the track when a man approached me and tried to attack me," she recalled.
While Couturier escaped without suffering significant injury, the same wasn't true of her emotional state.
"I decided I wanted to go back to school and keep pressing through my freshman year of college, but my Dad was really struggling with letting me go back and how to keep me safe," she said.
"That led to the preliminary stages of The BOOT"
Brenann's father, Rob, was experimenting with something which could be installed in a dorm room when he hit on the concept for The BOOT.
"It needed to be something that could keep me safe, that was easy for me to use, easy for my roommates to use and would keep anyone from bothering me," she said.
Work on the device continued over time, but a December 2012 tragedy would spur its completion.
"When Sandy Hook hit last December, I said to him, 'What are you waiting for? This is a great idea, and this is something that schools need, everywhere'," Brenann recalled telling her father.
Rob Couturier took his idea and stepped up development, consulting with fire marshals and others in the finished design. Brenann has led the business side, handling the marketing and promotion of The BOOT.
They're hoping to go in front of the Michigan Legislature to sell them on the device.
"There are so many issues the government has to deal with, but school safety is on the top of everybody's list right now," Brenann said.