Area school shooting hits close to home

November 21, 2014

PIC NEWS Marysville Hands

Lunch is everyone’s favorite “class.” It’s a time for socializing, eating and relaxing in the middle of a busy school day. You walk into the lunch room, grab some food and sit down with your friends. Bang, bang. Two quick shots echo across the cafeteria. The students look at one another in shock then horror, expressions of fear growing among the faces in the room. A threat that has long loomed over every high school in America was finally happening in their own backyard. Someone was shooting in the school.

Every day in the hallways of Cleveland, the phrase “shots fired” is used. According to Urban Dictionary, the phrase means “a reply given directly after a person gives a witty remark.” On Oct. 24, in the cafeteria of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, “shots fired” wasn’t a reply. It was a cry for help.

Freshmen Jaylen Fryberg lured his five friends – two of them were his cousins – to the cafeteria then opened fire, shooting all of them in the head. One girl died at the scene and three others eventually died in area hospitals. The lone survivor, Nate Hatch, was released from the hospital after having surgery to reconstruct his jaw. Fryberg killed himself at the scene.

The Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, was one of the deadliest school shootings in America. Two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, came to school armed with automatic weapons and homemade bombs. In their violent spree, they killed 13 people and injured 23 others before turning the guns on themselves. This was the country’s most fatal school shooting until the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy in December 2012.

“It was the Columbine shooting that woke people up about gun and safety laws,” said Eric Ensign, a study skills teacher. Klebold and Harris had acquired their weapons through illegal sales and gun dealers. They learned how to make bombs on the Internet.

Rebecca Williams, a language arts teacher, was in high school herself at the time of the Columbine shooting and remembers it clearly.

“I remember kids not being allowed to wear long coats to school and that first round of fear,” Williams said. “I also remember very distinctly thinking that would never happen at our school. And now I feel like it could happen at any school.”

Regardless of the increasing number of school shootings currently plaguing America, Cleveland students and staff are feeling relatively safe on campus.

“I feel as safe at Cleveland as I would at any other school,” said Williams. It’s not just teachers who feel safe at Cleveland; students feel safe also.” Sophomore Lina Le agrees.

“I think Cleveland is pretty safe compared to other high schools in the area,” said Le.

The Marysville shooting, however, feels different from the other shootings because it hits close to home. Only 35 miles away, this high school has competed in sports against Cleveland. Despite the close proximity, CHS students aren’t worried about a shooting happening here.

“I think any time there’s a shooting at a high school, it feels close to home,” Williams said.

It wasn’t the close proximity to Cleveland that scared senior Abdirisak Aden. It was the fact that the shooter targeted his friends.

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary where 26 people were killed, there have been at least 88 school shootings according to Every Town, an organization working to end gun violence. Despite an outcry for better gun control after the elementary shooting, the numbers continue to grow.

Language Arts teacher Susannah Woehr, believes lack of government aid to proper mental health care plays a huge part in why these shootings occur.

“People do have ideas on how to stay safe and prevent the shootings,” Woehr said. “The obvious one is to crack down on gun control and background checks.”

It seems that Seattle may be on the path towards fewer guns on the street with the recent passing of a new initiative on gun control. Initiative 594 will require background checks on all firearm sales and transfers, including gun shows and online sales. Along with I-594, the hope for a decrease in shootings comes with it. Williams, however, remains skeptical.

“If we lived in a society with no guns, there would be no school shootings,” she said. “For constitutional reasons and cultural reasons we will never be that society.”

Despite the new initiative, it’s not just slack gun control laws that can cause a school shooting. Mental issues can also be a source which is why another way to prevent them is counseling.

Many of the gunmen in the most recent school shootings had a history of mental health issues. According to reports on his medical history, Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, had spent several years under the care of psychiatrists and had a prescription for anti-depressants.

“Students need to deal with depression in a way that harms no one,” said Woehr. “Cleveland has a great counselor that students can talk to, Sara Maupin.”

Maupin works in the Teen Health Clinic, located on the bottom floor of Building 2. Students wanting counseling or need assistance in dealing with any mental health issues can schedule an appointment.

Dealing with the highs and lows of life is something all humans go through. It’s especially hard during high school when kids are dealing with the stresses of academics and looming adulthood. How students cope with that stress is what really matters. It can be difficult to not use rage-filled violence to convey how we feel. Finding outlets to express emotion is important so they can let go of those negative feelings.

In the case of Fryberg, the shooter in Marysville, he’d spent weeks venting about love and broken hearts on social media.

“People should talk out their issues with others instead of turning to violence to deal with them,” said Le. Using social media can be an outlet, but it doesn’t get to the heart of one’s problems. The underlying theme is that people need someone to actually listen to their problems.

“We need to be more interactive with each other,” said Justin Hoang, a senior.  Perhaps it’s not just being more interactive but actually aware of the needs of those around them.

Aden believes the friends and family surrounding a school shooter should be more alert to their friends’ problems.

“Since its students shooting his friends, his peers, they should be more aware and find out what’s happening in their lives,” he said.

As Cleveland finishes its first quarter and enters the holiday season, students are encouraged to remember those who have lost their lives in the tragic school shootings that have happened all across this country. Those in need of counseling or support should seek help in the Teen Health Center.

For more information on gun safety, go to www.everytown.org.

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