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for all

December 13, 2013

in 1999, i was 14 years old and a high school student myself as i watched students and teachers jumping from classroom windows, fleeing from gunmen inside columbine high school.  about 10 years later i walked the hallways of columbine, visiting the suburban denver school to recruit students for my college.  it’s a beautiful place.  but haunting.  i can vividly see the grassy knoll and the second story window that provided escape for innocent students.  what would i do?  would i run?  would i make it?

last year, i sat at my desk in the safety of my office at school as news stations reported another school shooting.  this one at an elementary school.  six-year-old children were gunned down.  teachers offered their lives in protection of the little students hiding in coat closets and bathroom stalls.  i cowered a little.  would i be willing to give my life for my students?  would i walk into danger just to save others?

today, the news broke again.  a school shooting not far from the site of that 1999 shooting.  and again, more questions.  why?  why a school – where students and teachers are supposed to feel safe and supported?  why a young student – who undoubtedly had so much to live for?  but also how?  how does this keep happening?  how do kids get their hands on guns?  how do innocent teenagers turn into murderers?

i don’t know if there’s an answer?  and maybe that’s the scariest question of all.  i’m 28 years old and i’ve seen far too many tragedies unfold in schoolyards and classrooms and cafeterias.  conversations about curriculum, and arguments over shakespeare vs. science, don’t seem so significant.  instead of teaching cutting edge ideas, should we focus on a traditional curriculum?  of respect and kindness and community.  then, just maybe, instead of running away from shooters, we could be moving toward understanding and compassion for all.

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