Tension

20 Apr

Emails from the principal today:

I want to tell you all that I truly appreciate your professionalism, today. I know that the kids are excited and fearful. I ask that you do what you can maintain a calm environment in your room. Do the best you can to teach as usual and keep the students as busy as you can given the circumstances. We currently have 13 deputies on campus. Let them and/or an administrator know if you hear or know of anything unusual.

And later on:

Teachers,

Regardless of what your students may be saying, we have had no incidents whatsoever, today. Just continue on with business as usual.

There were all sorts of rumors starting Tuesday and they progressively became more and more involved and threatening as the week wore on. By today (Friday) the entire school was gripped by some sort of hysterical fear. My paras were no exception, so we loaded the kids on the bus and spent the morning off campus. But lunch time scared them the most. But I decided that we needed to keep the schedule as we were directed to do. And the place was crawling with police officers, making their presence known. But students still streamed out during the day and went home. Some parents picked up their kids.

For my part, I was not terribly scared or worried and I feel like I was in the minority. I had several teachers come up to me and express their fears and I just told them that I thought there was just a lot of foolishness going on. We are always a potential target and we always will be. I’m thinking of that school in Russia, where the terrorists kept the teachers and kids hostage with bombs strapped to them. Or the Amish school that was attacked. Your odds of being killed in a car are still greater than being killed in a school. But I don’t see the use of cars declining or people calling for tougher car laws. All of my paras are going to get in their cars and go home, despite the risk.

What happened in Virginia was tragic and I mourn with those who have lost loved ones. But I refuse to live in fear. I’m going to live my life as fully as ever. There’s enough things to fret and fuss at every day without importing new issues. While my students have little real knowledge or understanding of what is going on, they certainly do get keyed into the tension of the adults. And I’m sure if I was all keyed up that would simply add to the anxiety of my paras. Our principal and other administrators have made it a point to be out and visible in order to instill some confidence. I’m not sure if the emails helped or not, but keeping things running in such circumstances has to be difficult. I’m sure every principal in every school is feeling a considerable amount of heat this day.

Dick

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2 Responses to “Tension”

  1. cityteacher April 21, 2007 at 10:59 am #

    I had not considered the effect of the tragedy at Virginia Tech on other schools around the country. I hope things have calmed down a bit for your school.

  2. Dick April 21, 2007 at 9:57 pm #

    It was a combination of things:
    – The VT shooting
    – The anniversary of Columbine
    – Our proximity to the Heritage incident a year after Columbine
    – Some kids shooting their mouths off
    – Kids texting and calling their parents about threats and rumors
    – Teachers and paras repeating rumors
    – Bus drivers spreading rumors between schools

    I scoffed at it all but it was so real to the paras. As they were leaving for the day, Queen said, “We made it!”

    “I never had a doubt” was my reply.

    Now I get why cell phones are such a double-edged sword. The tension was mostly created out of thin air and I can guarantee little learning took place among the remaining students. Fully a third of them were gone before the end of the day.

    At least that shortened the lunch lines.

    dick

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