As a senior at Henry Clay High School, I thought that I had seen it all. But the events that transpired on Thursday were unlike anything that I’d been witness to before.
Many students scrambled to exit the building, while simultaneously parents were rushing into the school to sign their children out.
The school did not inform students or parents that a gun had been found and confiscated on campus until over an hour had passed. Immediately, incorrect rumors swirled around the school (online and in person) that more guns had been found, that a shooting was going to occur during a lunch break, and that students were being pulled out of classes and arrested. All of this contributed to a hysterical environment, where few felt safe.
With only a few fully equipped with information, many teachers, students, and parents were left in the dark. By the end of the day, some classes’ attendance had thinned so dramatically that teachers asked the few students that remained why they had chosen to stay.
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I still don’t know if I’m going to return to Henry Clay tomorrow, but I do know that the lack of clear communication was unacceptable and caused unnecessary fear.
The school and district must reform their communication policies and ought to ensure that all students and teachers feel safe. Students cannot be expected to learn in classrooms where they are fearful. Teachers cannot be expected to educate if they are worried about the security of their students and themselves.
Superficial security measures will not solve the problem. Hiring more security officers, installing metal detectors, and inhibiting the ability of students to freely move, will not make us feel safer. They will only serve to reinforce the notion that schools are not a safe place to be.
Militarizing our schools is not the answer. The solution requires us to place a new emphasis on school climate and the emotional well-being of our students.
We need to humanize our schools.
It is much harder to ensure that every student feels safe than it is to lock doors and close windows, however, it is what this moment requires of us.
We will be Marching for Our Lives on March 20 outside of the State Capitol in Frankfort. Students are ready to lead this movement. Do we have adult allies ready to stand with us?
Zachariah Sippy is a senior at Henry Clay High School.