Still Afraid: Students Remain on Edge about School Shootings

Dallas Mercurio '20, Arts and Entertainment Editor

It’s been roughly 4 months since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Regardless of which side of the gun debate you are on, school shootings are a terrifying occurrence anywhere. The Parkland shooting shook America to its core and is still affecting students today. From videos of the actual shooting with shrill inhuman screams, to news coverage of outraged students being interviewed, many of us know much about the shooting that claimed 17 lives on February 14, 2018. Although the same degree of news coverage is not continued on this topic today, fear of more school shootings remains deep within students.

Recently, I observed that which is becoming an innate fear of a school shooting in our own community in myself and some of my classmates this past week. During a class, while we diligently took notes or daydreamed, suddenly we heard a crash and shouting. When shocked by a loud noise, instinctually many of us, including myself, jump a little. Yet, when this disturbance occurred, not only did many of us jump in our seats, but I saw some of my classmates had terror on their faces which I know was mirrored on my expression, as well. Moments later, we heard laughter from the source of the screams, and relief, as well as maybe a little embarrassment, flooded our senses, bringing us back to our class. I looked at my friend sitting across from me, and we both knew we had initially thought the same thing when we were spooked by the sound: “Maybe there’s a shooter.”

However improbable or irrational that an intruder would have entered the school premises, we were still scared and half-anticipating something to happen. It had happened all over the country, and in our minds, we thought why would Oakland be different. I now know how truly safe we are at Oakland Catholic. We have numerous safety and security checks and protocol in place from the ID cards to teachers being trained how to handle an active shooter in the building. Our school has teachers who are looking out for us. And as annoying as e-hallpasses are, they are a prime example of the Oakland Catholic community trying to protect its students in everything, even in something as mundane as a hall pass.

Yet even though we are safe, this generation of students is constantly exposed to everything that’s going on in the world, especially the bad. We see violence and terrible events like the school shootings occurring in America. School shootings are not normal, but for us they have become the norm on our news feed like the weather. Though we may believe that we have moved on from the tragedy that occurred in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the fear of a shooting in our community remains real in the hearts of our students, just as I can still hear the recording of gunshots and terrified cries from the Parkland shooting.

In conversation I learned that I was not alone in my current anxiety about school shootings. Many of my classmates were also experiencing nightmares and continued anxiety about such events. The jump-scare moment in class only confirmed what many have still been feeling. If you are nervous or experiencing anxiety especially regarding recent events, I plead you to talk to someone you trust about it, be it a parent, a friend, or a teacher. If we are indifferent to these events and emotions they aren’t going to be resolved, they will fester into something worse instead. And if talking is too difficult, try writing; it helped me.