If They Are Just Kids

emma

photo – Face The Nation

If everyone knew the correct answer,

then why would the children be so annoying.

If the adults might only listen for a reason,

then perhaps they might never again tease.

 

There seems to be a worthy cause on our horizon,

kids are speaking up, and there’s a faction of

human beings,

still want to only talk about guns.

 

They’re saying the kids don’t know enought

about weaponry,

the stuff that killed their best friend,

point blank in the head while studying pre-Calc.

 

Let’s teach them CPR states a diplomatic

asshole,

one that frankly might even know the color

of their own child’s eyes – ask the nany perhaps.

 

A great deal of anger seems to be the agenda

on both sides, tehre are issues and debates,

what’s different this time, says the speaker,

trying to find an inward path toward freedom.

 

Seems there might be a quiet revolution,

it involves the kids and their number are great,

if we decide they’re not worthwhile,

thank perhaps we must ask the question.

 

Why did we choose to raise children to be

the next generation of free thinkers in our society..

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Lest We Forget, Again

cards_warisnothealthy_detail

For we do that,

oh so often, we do

decide upon a beautiful sunset,

perhaps the rising moon,

a sweet snowfall,

even the rain of a heated summer day,

lets our mind return to the numbing

nature of a human condition

built upon,

the product of denial.

 

But we cannot,

simply look alive people,

please don’t shut your eyes,

there’s a movement,

and this time,

it is your children,

let their voices be heard.

 

Imagine telling a child

you may not skip class to protest

the death of your peer

by senseless gunfire,

imagine telling your children,

I don’t love you enough

to give a crap

about your well being.

Imagine telling a child

when you leave

I’m not going to imagine

a terrible outcome.

 

If we demand our children

stick to the implementation

of a day of lessons

designed in minutia

and instead

forget the very reason,

we brought our child

into this world,

then we have suggested

the concept of love is a fallacy.

 

We are at war,

and the eyes of a child,

certainly contain the heroic passions

of our every tomorrow.

name and faces

IMG_5125

 

I walked into my classroom today,

and the kids were being themselves,

I was thinking about their welfare,

wondering how many wondered themselves.

When I into their faces,

I’d seen them already,

splashed across the television screen

hanging in the living room of everyone’s home.

 

I wonder if it’s possible

to tell each other the same

that Billy & Frieda and Jennifer, well

all could be the victims of this,

insane response to

letting go,

allowing the human condition

a reason to justify

letting go.

 

We are told to be cognizant,

responsible for the well-being

of all of those involved,

being the students, the elders,

the parents, the faculty,

the community members,

school board and administration,

we’re always wondering who’s in charge.

 

Proven again last night,

on Valentines Day,

a new massacre for the ages,

a new realization that everyone

is vulnerable.

I looked at the pictures of the victims,

tomorrow when I walk into school,

I will watch them all walk the halls

tenfold in their similarity, their

human capacity, as living as is the dead,

we’re all faces in a crowd.

 

I wonder about the similarity

if we could recognize we’ll know each

other in another life,

if then

could we protect each other,

with basic compassion

and knowledge beyond

sensationalization.

 

the faces in the crowd,

are the same that make us proud.

I Looked In Their Hearts Today

I didn’t tell them as much,

you never can,

well you might,

I might occasionally want to shout,

I want them to know

I love them,

we love them,

there’s a lot of love when each one of them

walks inside my classroom.

 

I wanted to reach them today,

they couldn’t really feel the fear,

their days spent removed, fortunate,

isolated from the fury

that suddenly deadened their peers,

people they’ll never meet

one day they could have

if life had allowed

worlds to continue

beyond a gunshot, a bullet, the pain.

 

I wonder what goes through the mind of a student,

when miles away, sometimes blocks,

when it occurs

again,

and again and again and again,

and then there’s no tomorrow,

I wander through the streets hoping to find

a reason to say

you are completely safe,

but I can’t always say that,

I couldn’t say it today,

and I wanted to

say it to each one of them,

each one walking through my

classroom door.

I want you to know you are safe.

 

I can’t always say it though,

at least not today,

they’d think I was lying,

they read the news,

they know they’re not completely

safe.

They know,

much more than I will ever know.

Why School Shooting Awareness Matters

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Recently, our high school (not Kentucky) went through a serious protocol called A.L.I.C.E. as a national preventative for school shootings. The word is an acronym for the following: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE).

While as a teacher I have gone through many safety initiatives over the last twenty years that evolved from the Columbine tragedy (April 20th, 1999), this particular program seems to have the most impact. For the last two years, we have viewed a video training session designed around ALICE made by and for the students of our high school. The focus of preventive school shooting training is impactful and effective in letting students know that the concern is real.

In Kentucky, a community is reeling in tragedy. Reportedly, they are close-knit, so early in the morning did the shooting occur that the parents holding crosswalk signs are presently in tears, standing on the sides of the road in wonder. To them, right now, this is very real.

A few days after our training to close the semester before the holiday, a meme revealed present students holding ‘mock’ rifles and guns with the message, ‘don’t go to school today.’ Because social media is culpable, the students were found immediately and the disciplinary process is in motion. The incident created a stir throughout the school and district because, we are a close-knit community, and though our expanse is evident, everyone still does know each other.

What’s important to recognize is when such a tragedy occurs, people we are close to are impacted, in such a regard as there is no measure of one community to another’s reaction. We all have the same emotive responsibility when it comes to the safety of our children.

This commentary has nothing to do with gun control, or the right to bear arms being threatened by a liberal stance on weaponry and our 2nd amendment. This is about our students knowing the reality of our society, and their parents, our parents, our friends and relatives beginning to see just how pervasive this behavior is in our world today.

We turn on the news, and there is tragedy everywhere — terrorism has found a place in our lexicon that is no longer stunning, it is a way of life. We need to know that school shootings do not need to be nor should ever be accepted as a ‘way of life’ a reality that we have to get used to in our world. There is an opportunity to continue preventative manners to such horrific incidents as occurred in a Kentucky high school this very morning.

That measure occurs at home. As parents, as adults, as friends and neighbors we have to take the time to educate our children about the value of life and love. Our kids are inundated with the constant of a violent society, so left to their own devices they will act upon their impulses. We might only hope that having conversations with our children will reduce the potential for such an outcome in any community.

We need to look at all aspects of mockery, and reminders as seriously as the incident themselves. We must keep our children safe by assuring those closest to us that this behavior or resolution to an issue at school is not acceptable. We must have the conversations, while tonight we grieve the loss a close-knit Kentucky community must endure in light of the commonality of a school shooting.

Let’s teach our children the educational value of social media as an outlet for keeping our lives safe and fulfilling rather than one of haunting fantasy and impulsivity. Let’s keep our kids safe.

The Problem with Guns, Pranks & Kids

Recently, the school district I work in experienced a social media crisis when kids posted pictures of themselves with the message — ‘Don’t come to school’ as we prepare to return to the classroom after the winer break. The problem is the students are holding what appear to be weapons — automatic rifles and revolvers — all of which have since been determined to be fakes and not real weaponry. The community is up in arms, and on social media parents are threatening to keep their kids home for the day rather than face the risk.

The local police department has issued a statement saying the students have been spoken to and the issue is resolved and there is no immediate threat to tomorrow’s school day. So I guess I will go to work as a teacher in my classroom, but I know I’ll look around and see a lot of empty desks.

There are a couple of directions I want to go with this commentary. The most important being the realization of how dangerous a precedent these students created with their ‘prank’ behavior. I don’t they realize the repercussions. I don’t think though, from reading the thread of reactions on social media that our society is ready to recognize the consequences of such a harmful act.

Guns scare people today, because their volatility, their immediate impact, their prevalence in schools is defined rather than speculated. The problem I have with these students making a joke of a serious issue is not as much themselves as it is the onlookers. Their joke could be someone else’s literal motivation to carry out a heinous act because it has been revealed and attention has been drawn to the idea.

I think the greatest fear of sensationalism is the action alone. Parents are reeling from this news, decidedly keeping their kids home. Some will eventually transfer schools. The community is frightened by the reality of this incident and this needs to become a teaching moment for our kids.

We cannot simply let it ride as a harmless prank. We must set a tone, and students need to know the seriousness of such an action. The students involved need to be charged with a terrorist act because they created an idea, a dangerous one, that might leave someone else intrigued enough to carry out what they thought was a joke.

We live in a suicidal society as it is. We cannot continue to give our students reasons to make poor and life-changing decisions that will impact their world for the rest of their lives.Our kids are being groomed within a throwaway society that is so impactful they have no idea the consequence that lays before them.

Gun-toting activists need to step it up and recognize this is dangerous behavior and not an over-reaction. Keep in mind, the gun could be your own.

Recognizing Who We Are Today! (a draft)

We experienced a tragedy in (our community) last week. We lost a young man as the result of a traffic accident. He touched many hearts. The city, the district, the students were all impacted by the loss of (student), a student known by many for his affectionate and charming persona, an infectious personality. I listened to a couple of students the night of the tragedy talk about the immediacy, how quickly a life is taken, that we cannot quite comprehend the confusion such a loss leaves us when just hours before they were standing right next to the young man, full of life. We are all surely saddened by tragedy, yet, we are also enlightened by the way the students rallied around the celebration of this young man’s short life. In an intrigue, this experience speaks to an aspect of the beauty of our lives in (our community) as we recognize the diverse nature of our community.

On Friday, as the news flooded social media the night before, the students all wore white to honor the young man. I was amazed to look around the school and see nearly 90% of the student body dressed in white. The sight provided a welcome contrast to the negative image our district has attained in recent months. Here’s why.

What happened inside our school buildings on Friday mattered to the students, they were the ones being represented and cared for, and they responded with more unity than I have seen in my career as a teacher. I watched a school that put aside curriculum for the day, and reasoned with the reality of the human condition in every step of the way. In mid-day, there was a service, known as a ‘smudge’ provided by the young man’s family – his Native American heritage celebrated – and in attendance easily hundreds of students witnessed a cultural phenomena with open arms and respectful intrigue.

I said to a friend of mine late Thursday night, that (young man’s) loss would be a unifying force for allowing our students to recognize life as a whole rather than an individual need for survival. I watched kids from every walk of life hug one other, speak kindly to each other, and embrace grieving in a thoughtful and beautiful manner. (young man’s) death was responsible for that coming together of a school district.

Even more intriguing, I attended a football game that night, a ‘Friday night lights’ experience during which both the visitors and the home team wore white to symbolize (our community) tragic loss. It was remarkable to watch the unification of two school’s students who all recognized together the beauty of life and the tragedy of loss. But together they created and expressed a natural silver lining. Ironically, several schools around the region also showed unity and compassion by wearing white in a symbolic gesture of support. My boss said to me today, ‘It’s a small world’ when I shared my delight in the actions of many.

This weekend we celebrate the loss of a beautiful young man, one that I did not know personally, but understood to have touched the lives of many, including many students in the drama program, for which I am an advisor. The lesson learned from this weekend’s start of the healing process, is that we as a district do embrace the beauty of a unique population of student body that do and can believe in one another if given the proper resources. We as a community need to do our part in assuring our students that we can go forward together.

I think (young man) is imagining how special our world is given his new perspective, and his engaging smile is suggestive of our need to recognize his gift and not forget the message his role in the circle of life provides us all.

*names withheld to respect the student and family.