B – The 18-year-old gunman entered the school and opened fire as students cowered in fear.
E – He was armed with an assault weapon he had recently bought legally. He needed no license or permit to own or carry his weapon.
B – Teachers locked doors and ordered students to huddle in corners or hide in closets.
B – Some teachers covered and protected the bodies of their students with their own bodies.
A – Bullets ricocheted off lockers as students took cover under school furniture.
D – Some students texted parents that shots had been fired.
C – A wounded student pleaded with the gunman not to harm others.
D – Bodies lay on the floor, which was littered with shell casings. There was blood everywhere.
A – Some students were trapped for hours as law enforcement officials searched for the gunman.
B – With his assault weapon, the gunman had fired 154 rounds in less than five minutes.
C – Scores of law enforcement officers surrounded the school, with numerous emergency vehicles at the ready.
D – Parents frantically waiting for word of their children watched emergency personnel treating victims on the sidewalks outside the school.
A – Surviving students filed from the school, their hands above their heads.
E – Victim identification continued late into the night. Official notification, made impossible by the disfiguring wounds some students had received, could only be completed through DNA testing.
E – Individual crosses bearing the names of each murdered student and teacher were erected.
C – In the aftermath, community churches continued in prayer for the victims, the gunman, students, and staff.
A – The President said: “Perhaps America will wake up…if it can happen here.”
B – The President said: “As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies.”
D – The President promised to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
E – A U.S. senator suggested: “Have one door into and out of the school, guarded by armed police officers.”
E – The President asked: “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”
Based on news coverage at the time, the above composite profile of five school shootings, represents more than 350 similar events that are becoming obscenely commonplace in 21st century America.
Section A refers specifically to the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999. I included it because it represents the first such occurrence I recall. I quoted President Bill Clinton.
Section B refers specifically to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on December 14, 2012. I included it because I was appalled that tiny children were slaughtered in their classrooms just days before Christmas. I quoted President Barack Obama.
Section C refers specifically to the shooting at West Liberty-Salem Schools in Ohio on January 20, 2017. Thankfully, the number of casualties was limited during this school shooting. I included the local event, however, because the effect on all involved was nonetheless powerful and traumatic. Students and teachers successfully completed ALICE, the trained response action that includes Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.
Section D refers specifically to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018. I included it because I hoped and believed the earnest, engaging Parkland students would convince adult leaders to forgo their partisan politics and together search for real solutions to the real issues involved. I quoted President Donald Trump.
Section E refers specifically to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas on May 24, 2022. I included it because it has happened again – and again, small children have been literally caught in a crossfire of cultural and political issues our elected officials prefer to ignore. I quoted Senator Ted Cruz and President Joe Biden.
In the week since unbearable grief descended upon the close-knit community of Uvalde, Texas …
I am overjoyed that West Liberty-Salem’s Logan Cole has received his college degree and is moving ahead in his life so productively and courageously. However, I continue to mourn all students and teachers whose innocent lives have been cut short in these senseless attacks. And I worry about the lingering trauma with which surviving students, staff, and their families continue to live.
I remain unable to comprehend that the phrase “gun control” is an oxymoron for certain gun owners. How should we consider the students mowed down in their classrooms by battlefield weapons? Are kids simply collateral damage, a small price to pay so that all Americans 18 and older are assured of unfettered access to the assault weapons of their choice?
Amanda Gorman, 24-year-old American poet/activist tweeted “one nation under guns” and shared this line of her new poem “one education under desks.”
NBA coach Steve Kerr exploded at a pregame press conference: “I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about … the school shootings … Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of children? Because that’s what it looks like!”
A former student-now-mom shared this conversation with her 7-year-old:
Mommy, they talked about it at school and at gymnastics. Something about shooting. Tell me the truth about what happened.
What do you think happened?
I think people got hurt.
Yes, a bad guy hurt some kids. Do you want to talk some more?
(cuddling close) – No, I’m done.
I am done, too.
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.