Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hitting Home - Murrysville, PA

I have watched with great sadness over the past several years as violence in schools has become a national epidemic.  As a District Trustee, there's only one thing that matters to me more than making sure each child gets a great education- that is making sure they get home safely each night.

After Columbine, a friend of mine who was moving to Colorado intentionally chose to buy a house in Littleton.  "The chances of this happening twice in the same area are essentially zero," he told me.  Sadly, last year it did strike again at Arapahoe High School and his own children were in the high school.  We were all so grateful to know that his children were unharmed, but the same can't be said of every child who went to school that morning.

Still, that was in Colorado.  Sandy Hook, in Newton, CT,  was also "somewhere else", and it seemed to me that this "epidemic" was a serious problem, but it was affecting others.

Until yesterday.

I graduated from Franklin Regional High School on June 6, 1985.  I remember the date because I had the support of close friends through what were the toughest times my 17-year-old mind could imagine.  But I never faced anything like what my fellow Panthers faced yesterday when one of their classmates went on a spree and stabbed more than 20 people.  From this day forward, those kids will never have a "normal" high school experience.  There will be "before" and "after".  It will alter their lives permanently.

My kids are already asking about what happened.  I wish I had answers, but I don't.  How do you make kids feel safe in their hometown when something like this happens in my hometown?  But somehow I'm going to have to find the words...

The Los Altos School District already has drills and safety measures in place to deal with a crisis like this, but we have to do more.  Knowing how to manage a lock-down is nowhere near as important as making sure we don't need one in the first place.  We provide funding for CHAC, which is a great resource if a child is struggling.  Project Cornerstone talks about sticking up for other students, but it also emphasizes helping your fellow students.  We all need to make sure that any child who struggles gets the help they need.

As parents, we do not have the luxury of thinking this will only occur "somewhere else".  Murrysville, PA, Newton, CT, and Littleton, CO do not fit the stereotypes of places we associate with violence.  They aren't gang-ridden, overrun by drug dealers.  I can tell you- these are places just like Los Altos, Mountain View, and our wider community.