Incident

I’m not quite sure how to start this entry.

As you may know, I teach at a high school. I see about 70 students in a school of, oh, maybe 300-400. I teach vocal music. We had a concert scheduled tonight, our last one for the year. It didn’t happen.

There was an incident at the high school today, labeled a “threat to the student population.” The administration locked down all the buildings in the district while they searched the students and the staff at the high school. I believe they are searching the building this evening, prior to students’ arrival tomorrow. For safety precautions, they cancelled all activities for this afternoon and evening, including my concert. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was teaching one of the elementary schools at the time, so I wasn’t in the building where everything was happening. I don’t know many other facts, but word around town is that the threat mentioned the shootings at Va. Tech.

I am feeling too many things to describe at once. Logic tells me that if somebody was going to go on a shooting spree, they probably wouldn’t give a warning. They would just go do it. Which leads me to believe this is just some stupid prank done by a bored student who apparently has nothing better to do. Or they just want to make the administrators and police run around like crazy searching for a threat that isn’t really real, because it seems funny somehow.

But what if the threat is real?

I remember vividly the shooting at Columbine in 1999. I had just had my first child about a year prior, and was a very overprotective stay-at-home mom. I can remember crying as I watched the news coverage while I nursed my baby, and swearing to myself that I would never, EVER let my child go to a public school. (I got over that.) I guess what I was really feeling was a sense of helplessness, that I could pour my entire life into this new person, and because of someone else, he might never have the life for which he was created. Helpless doesn’t begin to really describe how I felt at that moment.

But I never thought, as I returned to the public school system myself, that something like that could happen near me. I don’t know why, I just never gave it a second’s thought. I suppose I always worry more for my children than for myself. I keep telling myself that this incident today was nothing more than a prank, but it reminds me that there is a possibility that it could be real–either this time, or some other time. It gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. I start to worry about my students, much as I would my children. I worry for myself, though I try not to.

It’s just a prank; there’s no reason to worry for my safety tomorrow when I go back to work. I have been told by our superintendent that there will be strong police presence in our building as they investigate–I suppose that in itself will be weird. I’m not quite sure what to do with my students tomorrow. I don’t want them to panic, but I don’t want to brush it off as nothing either. I also don’t want to think that one of my students could have been responsible for this threat today.

I don’t want to be melodramatic. But I can’t help thinking of everything I could lose if this threat were real, if something happened to me.

It’s just a prank. They have to take it seriously, of course, given the world we live in. But it’s just a prank. That’s all.