An hour after I’d taken a camo, guns up photo with my newspaper editor one of my students ran into the newsroom and said we needed to turn on the TV. I logged on to CNN, saw “school shooting,” and we turned the station from our school feed to 27.
We’re on December deadline for the magazine and yearbook, but all work stopped as we watched Anderson Copper walk through the horrifying facts he knew. A minute in he said elementary school and 20 dead, more feared, and for the first time in my career as a media teacher, I said “Turn the news off.”
I told the students if they wanted to follow coverage, they could log on to news sites. No one argued, and most quickly sent I Love You texts to their families then went back to work in the room immersed in black and gold state semifinal football game excitement. I prayed silently at my desk, then pushed the reality of the world away and focused on ROHO (Ride on Honorable One) and OFOT (One Family, One Team), two of my school’s unifying concepts. The pall of the events unfolding in Connecticut simmered beneath the surface, but for the most part we purposefully wrapped ourselves in the bubble of avoidance.
After the game, one of the best I’ve ever seen other than the fact that we’re not moving on to State, I sat, soaked and freezing, and posted that I was turning my phone off because I didn’t want to lose the bubble. I made it 45 minutes, and then my news addicted personality took over.
I devoured the New York Times coverage of the shooting and prayed some more. When we got home around 1 a.m. I jumped in a hot shower, prayed again, and went to sleep.
This morning I woke up angry and horrified and so incredibly sad as I thought of those babies and their teachers and that principal and those guns that fire so many bullets so fast. The police press conference added to that anger because the man speaking had to request that the media leave the parents alone when the names of the dead children are announced. It won’t be long and politicians will add to the anger because they’ll turn this into a Republican vs Democrat soundbite opportunity.
Now I’m sitting here on the computer, blogging once again about an unthinkable tragedy brought on by violence and brokenness. Once again I have to say we can’t let the monsters win. We can’t live in fear.
Monday, we’ll have to talk about this in my classes. I’m a media teacher, and this is life.
I’m thankful for yesterday’s bubble. I’m thankful for OFOT and ROHO. I’m thankful for prayer, my school, my students.
I won’t live in fear. I’ll still go to school, to the movies, the mall, to New York City on an airplane. I’ll still dress in camo on Camo Day, I’ll still “get my guns up” and scream “Go, Raiders.” I’ll still pray silently at my desk when the unthinkable happens.
I won’t live in fear. Not ever.