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.

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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.