Soaring high above road, I sat in the top front row of the double decker tour bus. Students were singing, “Do you wanna build a snow man!” as the bus swayed around the switchbacks of the Alpen highway. I was frantically trying to take pictures with my phone. At every turn a new landscape, more mind-blowing than the previous one, appeared in front of me.
I ignored my phone at first, when it began to buzz with updates. Then a text, “Did you hear about SPU?” With what little power I had left on my phone I scoured the news feeds for information. I searched the Facebook updates of all those who attended SPU with me for news. Why would anyone target Seattle Pacific University?
Unfortunately, this past week has been filled with even more shootings. And now Troutdale, Oregon. I have friends from there. I know teachers that work in that district. It is all bit too much to take in.
I was teaching at Wenatchee High School in 1996 when one of the first school shootings happened only 30 miles from our home. All of us were crippled by the tragedy at Moses Lake. Many of our students and teachers knew the victims.
Two years later, school shootings seemed to be an epidemic. There was another spring shooting too close to home at Thurston High School in Oregon. A boy, obsessed with guns and the recent version of Romeo & Juliet decided to take revenge on his classmates. Then the big one happened. Word came out during lunch to turn on our TV’s. Columbine played out in real-time for all of us to see. It was incomprehensible.
Troutdale marks the 74th school shooting since December 14th, 2012, the date of the school shooting at Sandy Hook. Are school shootings becoming a “normal” event?
With every lock down drill, I sit on the floor with my students and pray that I will never have to experience a shooting in my school. I wonder if I would have the courage to put myself between the gun and my students. Would I have the courage to bring down the gunman as he stops to reload?
Today, with just a few more days left in the school year, my heart goes out to those dealing with the losses and trauma created by these shootings.
What is the solution? How can we make this stop?
***And now it is October, 2014. On the 24th, new victims of gun violence in a High School near Seattle. When will we make it stop?