I sit here this evening contemplating the horror of yet another school shooting, more senseless deaths, innocent students scarred by violence, and wonder why. The losses are so numerous—-the lives of a dedicated teacher and a misguided student; trust that school is a safe place; feelings of security among students, faculty, and staff; assurance for parents that school is where their children won’t be harmed; a sense of well-being within the larger community, and on and on. My heart aches for all of those caught in the midst of the shooting and its aftermath simply as a result of following their normal daily routine.
It’s tempting to focus solely on all the things lost on a day like today, but it then seems as though I, too, have been defeated by the violence and tragedy. So it is right and worthwhile to consider what was found as well. According to news accounts, several students fled the school grounds after hearing shots fired and were welcomed into a nearby home. They found shelter and refuge from potential harm. The teacher who died was attempting to defuse the situation while simultaneously protecting his students. In him, we find courage, strength, and self-sacrifice. Public safety officers, who must dread the possibility of serving in circumstances like today’s, responded swiftly and purposefully, and in them we find noble professionalism.
The headlines might ever highlight the trauma and death of school shootings, and we must not discount them individually or as a society. Our ability to recognize kindness, sacrifice, and duty, while dreadfully difficult, is nevertheless essential in helping us see what we retain in spite of all that was lost. May it offer comfort and peace, especially to everyone at Sparks Middle School