This is a sad anniversary– 20 years since the first mass school shooting changed what it felt like to be a high schooler.
It is a hard feeling to put into words, but even now I feel it in the pit of my stomach…
-The alarming feeling that a bubble had popped, that my world may be less safe than I had always assumed.
-The sinking feeling that the adults in my life now trusted us kids even less– as they scrambled for answers, scrambled for steps to take to keep us safe, scrambled to point fingers at anything (heavy metal, violent video games, bullying), anything but guns.
-The agitating feeling that my daily routine was shaken up. No more headphones and portable CD players in school. Something that brought me solace was taken away.
-The frustrating feeling that adults looked for answers without asking kids.
One of my favorite short stories, which I read every year on my birthday, is “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros. The narrator, Rachel, explains that when you turn eleven, you do not feel eleven immediately, and that you still have your past selves layered inside. When I think about Columbine, my fifteen-year-old self very much comes to the surface.
And the very worst part is standing in front of kids and telling them I know exactly how they feel. Because adults–past and present–have failed. We have failed to fix this. In 20 years.
This week, we had a scare in my building. We were lucky that nothing actually happened. I am proud of the kid who saw something and said something. I am angry at the media circus– news channels who created an environment of chaos by coming out to a place of learning to cover a non-story. I am worried about kids who feel like they have no positive outlets. And I don’t know what to do about it all, other than showing up everyday as an adult who listens… and voting for politicians who support commonsense gun control measures.