The Age of School Shootings

The Reality of Being a Student in the 21st Century


Erin Green, Newspaper Editor-in-Chief

Midlothian High School, Sept. 6th, 2019. The principal comes over the intercom, his voice echoing through the speakers as he demands the school to remain calm and follow protocol. Students scurry to the corner of the room and hide behind a set of desks. Teachers step into the hallway and pull any wanderers in. One by one, every light flicks off and every door is locked. They’ve done this drill so many times they could perform it in their sleep. Except, this time, it’s not a drill. This is for real. This is the dreaded moment one pray never comes yet spends years preparing for.

Across the street, another high school hears of the news and quickly begins conjuring up their own version of the story. As if a lockdown is equivalent to the newest celebrity gossip. A few are shaken up and take the time to text their friends at the neighboring school, while others look at the Snapchats of students safely boarded up in their classrooms and use the opportunity to crack jokes about what could have happened. After all, no one actually got hurt. Things like that don’t happen to towns like this. If the student body wants to have a laugh about just how lucky they are, where’s the harm in that?

The potential school shooting scare at MHS was proven to be nothing more than a false accusation two months ago, but real and fatal scenarios are still taking place across the country often. Some students feel so far removed from these events and can’t imagine anything like it possibly happening to them, while others wake up every day in fear of what’s waiting for them on the other side of their front door. 

“It makes me feel definitely worried for students’ safety because you never know what’s going to happen,” Danielle Baze, family consumer science teacher said. “Definitely as a parent it makes me nervous sending my kids to school and not knowing the condition of the mental stability of the students and the walls with them.”

When Ashley Hagenbush (12) sees news of mass shootings, she feels mournful yet disconnected to it. 

“I thought it was crazy and weird, but kind of distant because I don’t really see it as something that will happen here,” Hagenbush said. “It’s just kind of surreal, I guess.”

Not everyone feels far-removed from these situations. Olivia Goerig (11) lives in constant fear of a school shooting occurring. 

“I think with the growing population of Midlothian, the fear is growing for me because the more people we have the more risk we are at,” Goerig said. “I believe in God, so truthfully I pray every day about school shootings and that keeps me hopeful that nothing bad will happen.”

Some feel a sense of gratitude to the staff and their desire to keep students safe.

“At least for our district we have pretty good safety measures in place, like even with the activity that happened at MHS, it was a super quick response,” Baze said. “So that gave me a sense of comfort in knowing that it was handled quickly, but not knowing a lot of information about it also makes you curious about the levels of people’s intent.”

Although school shootings may not be entirely preventable, some believe the precautions taken by the staff are a step in the right direction.

“I think our ‘See Something, Say Something’ form is very helpful because it allows students to say something that makes them feel uncomfortable,” Goerig said. “I just think everyone at a school should want to prevent them and look for warning signs.”

Others feel it is important to remember that the people committing these crimes are only kids and should be handled with more delicacy.

“In some situations, they just need an additional layer of support to prevent them from doing something like that,” Baze said. 

The topic of gun control is highly controversial. Some students are supportive of the idea of stricter regulations.

“I think it would make me feel better if there were more regulations because our peers have too much freedom,” Goerig said. “It’s scary to me because nobody can really control them. I think I would feel safer.”

Others believe that more emphasis on mental health would be a more effective way to handle these events.

“It’s kids that are doing this,” Baze said. “The guns are not legally theirs anyways. I don’t think it’s a law issue, I think it’s an availability issue, it’s a mental health issue, I think it’s a lot of other things. But I don’t think a law requiring more regulations or processes is going to change an individual’s desire to harm others.”

These situations leave people, whether they’ve experienced it or not, shaken up. For some people, the multitude of these occurrences hasn’t fully sunk in.

“It’s one of those things that has to happen to you for you to realize that it’s an important issue,” Hagenbush said. “I do realize that it’s an important issue, but it’s kind of distant.”

There are conflicting ways people believe mass shootings should be handled. Almost everyone can agree, however, that more needs to be done. The first step in preparing, according to Mrs. Baze, is realizing the risk of being affected.

“It can always happen here,” Baze said. “It can happen anywhere, and to be naive and assume that it couldn’t is setting ourselves up as a target. It’s not just a remote, out-of-the-way thing where bad things happen to bad people. I don’t think that’s realistic, and it definitely could happen anywhere.”

It can always happen here. It can happen anywhere, and to be naive and assume that it couldn’t is setting ourselves up as a target. It’s not just a remote, out-of-the-way thing where bad things happen to bad people. I don’t think that’s realistic, and it definitely could happen anywhere.”

— Danielle Baze, family consumer science teacher



To read about my proposal on how to reduce gun violence, check out my column: