It’s difficult to find something funny to say after last week.
The Friday morning horrific actions of a gunman killing young 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., has everyone I know in shock.
It hit very close to my family, as my wife, Kathy, teaches second and third graders in Abilene and my daughter Robin teaches first and second graders in Kansas City. I have grandsons in 7th and 4th grade and one in kindergarten.
That same day, police arrested a teenager in northern Oklahoma for allegedly planning a Columbine-style attack on his high school.
That raises a big question: how safe are our schools?
History had dictated over and over again the actions of an individual or individuals who have no fear of the consequences are difficult to defend.
The book and later movie “Blackhawk Down” portrayed the U.S. military action in Somalia in which 19 American soldiers were killed with over 1,000 Somalis dead. In some cases, U.S. soldiers simply ran out of bullets.
Pearl Harbor, to some degree the Oklahoma City bombing and the events on 911 are reminders that, because we live in a free country, there are risks.
I know for a fact that school districts in Abilene, Kansas and most everywhere have played the “what if” game in preparation for disasters both natural or otherwise.
Recent incidents in Chapman and at Southeast of Saline forced those schools into lockdown. Everyone from teachers, administrators to classified staff followed procedures and in those cases, no students or teachers were harmed.
“We practice those things,” Robin said of her elementary school in Kansas City.
Does that mean something like Sandy Hook won’t happen there or even here?
“It could have happened anywhere,” Robin said. “The fact that it happened to kindergartners hit me harder, having a kindergartner.”
One of the areas architects will be looking at in the USD 435 facilities study is the safety issue. A work session is planned for tonight with architects and school board members.
McKinley Elementary, where Kathy teaches, has five entrances. Granted most of those doors are locked, much to the aggravation of parents and sometimes teachers, as well.
But students, parents and complete strangers coming and going throughout a school building is just not acceptable.
Abilene Middle School has eight entrances. Abilene High School students must walk from the main building outside to the vocational building to attend classes. Student athletes also walk to and from the football/track stadium in the fall and spring seasons.
In light of the events in Connecticut I’m sure student safety will be on the table. But what’s next: bulletproof glass, metal detectors and armed guards? Even that might not be enough.