Keeping Schools Safe – Listening to our Kids

I am an educator. I understand what the threat of gun violence does to schools; the changes to the building; trimming 100-year-old trees so a shooter can’t use them for cover; the drills that steal precious time from teaching; the worry on kids’ faces when the loud speaker announces a lock-down; the fear every teacher feels over the safety of their students and themselves when there is yet another shooting in the news. It is all too real.
On the 24th of March, I had the opportunity to join students and concerned family members in the Hendersonville “March for Our Lives” observance. There were hundreds of us, the largest demonstration about anything in Hendersonville in as long as anyone could remember. The March was completely organized by students. In sympathy with the tragic events in Parkland, they felt compelled to join millions of others who want elected officials in State and Federal governments to do something to keep them safe in their schools, churches, and on the streets of their communities. As I walked, I was struck by how eerily silent it was at times. One could easily hear the footfalls of the marchers. And every so often the chant, “Not one more!”
After the March, participants gathered at a local brewery where kids drank soda and everyone shared their thoughts and feelings. I heard words of frustration, words of anger. I heard words of grief as legislators were challenged to make things better. School safety should not be a partisan issue. Republican, Democrat, or unaffiliated, we all love our children and want them to be safe in our schools, houses of worship, and on our streets.
I walked in awe behind the hundreds who walked ahead of me. I listened to the people who spoke. I cannot and will not ignore them. At the end of the day, we must act to stop the carnage, the slaughter of so many thousands of innocents. Our kids understand this and so do I. We can and must do something! For my part, I will not let them down.