As Students, We Can Take Gun Violence Seriously
After squeezing into the corner of a darkened room for 10 minutes, people get
out their phones to play games or watch Netflix. Frightened students checking
local news sites whisper “sshhh!” to those making jokes and laughing, but not
many at Lakeside take these lockdowns seriously. But unexpected gunshots in the
hallway shock the classroom into silence: what would happen next?
On March 1, Lakeside went into a level one lockdown for nearly two hours
after a student made a shooting threat that spread over the internet. Teachers locked
the doors, covered the windows, and class went on as normal. Some students joked
and spread the screenshot of the threat, “I’m white and get bullied but care no more, I’m coming and I’m killing everyone here.” Some of us assumed the post was fake, but some panicked in fear of real danger, as extra police cars patrolled our campus.
On February 14th, Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen students at Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with an assault rifle. He had posted threatening comments on YouTube and other platforms and neighbors and family had reported his erratic behavior to the police before. The post threatening Lakeside contained similar language and mimicked other mass shooters with a picture of an assault weapon in the post. In Parkland, the resource officers and police force responded inappropriately by failing to enter the building and apprehend the active shooter. At Lakeside, security guards did not check every classroom on lockdown and some teachers failed to lock the doors or cover windows.
On March 14th, Lakeside walked out to protest the teens killed in Parkland in an attempt to sway Congress and the public toward increased gun safety. Privileged to have the opportunity to protest without consequence, students stood in silence, honoring the Parkland victims. While
sweeping reforms could be coming for guns, what needs to happen with school safety? The partisanship of gun control may divide the country, but every American should sympathize with students mourning the murder of their classmates; death has no place in schools.
At Lakeside, we practice lockdowns just like we do fire and tornado drills, however, students don’t take these seriously. Whether nervous from the drill or just lacking respect for other student’s safety, kids take out their phones, laugh, and make noise. Some teachers not wanting to miss instructional time ignore the lockdown procedure and keep using the Promethean to teach. The frequency and mystery of drills delegitimize them in practice. When we received shooting threats, Lakeside went into lockdown, but we can’t tell the difference between an exercise and a real emergency in the moment. Even in a real emergency, students can’t take the lockdowns seriously.
Inadequate safety measures at Lakeside put students at risk in a school shooter scenario. The exterior door on the 1600 hallway doesn’t lock during the school day, allowing anyone to enter the building. The isolation of the trailers compromise the safety of the students and teachers inside. Faculty lack quick access to lockdown procedure, resulting in confusion on the severity of the response. Some faulty PA speakers in bathrooms and trailers could leave students unaware of a lockdown. Substitute teachers don’t have keys to lock doors, leaving students exposed in the classroom; considering Lakeside’s high density of floating teachers and substitutes, this leaves a large proportion of Lakeside’s population exposed during a threat.
The respectfulness of students during the walkout prove that we take this issue seriously and possess the ability to improve Lakeside’s safety. We have a responsibility to report any posts or content that make threats on students or the school building; no one laughs at posts threatening students or the school. We need to take the same maturity and respect seen during the walkout into our views and approach to school safety: lockdown drills need to replicate how we would respond in a real emergency and teachers must know the appropriate response to each scenario. Students come to school to learn and in an ideal world we wouldn’t need drills, locks,
or metal detectors, but given the dangers out there, we must prepare ourselves for the worst. If we ever hear those gunshots ring out in our hallways, we should know how to respond.