I graduated from high school in 1994. I spent twelve years in classrooms without the words “school shootings” meaning much to me, because I had nothing to attach those words to–those now very prevalent words.
The classroom was one of my safe places. Places, like my home, where I walked into with the assumption that nothing bad could happen to me.
The only time that assumption was challenged was in 1988, when a woman named Laurie Dann, walked into a second-grade classroom, told the class she was going to teach them about guns, and then shot and killed one child, while shooting and injuring at least eight others.
The face of the woman plastered all over the news is one I’ll always remember–dark hair, dark eyes, a turtleneck– because of the horrendous acts that face is attached to. There was otherwise nothing worth remembering about her face, nothing distinctive evil that you would expect to see in someone who could shoot and kill innocent children. To my then twelve-year-old eyes, she looked so…. normal. Like any other mom.
Even after hearing that story of a woman going into a school (a school not very far from mine) and shooting children, killing one of them, I don’t remember getting ready for school the next day being afraid. Worried. Concerned that someone may come into my school and shoot me. That particular school shooting was an anomaly. Shootings didn’t occur regularly enough for me to think it could happen at my school.
I was twelve years old in 1988. In the seventh grade. I was old enough to understand that a child had died, and more children had been shot. I was old enough to grasp that a mother and father had lost their child. Classmates had lost a friend.
As devastating as all of that was, I still felt safe going to school the next day, despite that that school shooting happened less than an hour from my own school, because I believed something like that could never happen again. Not at my school. Not at anyone’s school.
Children today don’t think like that. Children today watch news of the latest school shooting and think, “My school could be next.”
School shooter drills prepare them for the occasion they may be right.
My school prepared us for fires and tornados.
Photo downloaded from public records.