Ari Anita Miller, the Kindergartener
When I got to school this morning, there were police cars everywhere. Policeman walked around the building. Mommy walked me to the front door like she always does, but Mrs. Lockley wouldn’t let Mommy take me to breakfast. Mommy always walks me to breakfast, then we throw my trash away, and we walk to class. Mommy gives me a hug and a kiss on the cheek before I go inside my classroom. Then she leaves and I know she will come get me after school and walk me home.
I was scared today. I cried because I didn’t want to stay. I wanted Mommy to take me with her. Policemen only come when bad things happen. I saw Mrs. Lockley pull other kids away from their families. They walked to the cafeteria alone…crying. I had always thought that Mrs. Lockley was nice, but she was so mean today.
“What if something bad happened today? What if the scary clowns came? What if the big kids started hurting people? What if someone shooted me?”
Finally, Mrs. Lockley pulled me out of Mommy’s arms. She said Mommy must go home. She said that I would be okay. She told Mommy no parents allowed at school today.
“Why are the police here?” Mommy asked.
Mrs. Lockley said it was to practice safety at school. I didn’t feel safe or okay.
John Ricardo Cardenas, the 5th Grader
When I shuffled into the cafeteria for breakfast, it was unusually crowded. The strange thing was that there were no parents. In my school, parents always bring their little kids in, sit down with them, make sure they eat, and walk them to the big room or class. Literally not one Mom or Dad was in here today, but there were no seats. All the tables were full of kids.
Most of my friends don’t eat breakfast here. They just walk through, put their card in the basket, and go out to the big room. It’s easier for me to eat at school, and it’s free, so I get there last. However, this morning all of my friends were in here, sitting on benches with food trays pretending to eat. For some reason, parents were not allowed inside school today. Cops stood guard in the hallway. It felt kind of creepy.
The big room was on the west side by the basketball court. It was simply a large outbuilding where we could have events; such as plays, dances, or concerts. Normally after breakfast check-in, all of us wait there with our class until the school bell rings. Today, everyone was forced too eat and remain in the cafeteria. The assistants wouldn’t let anyone leave the cafeteria. There was no room for everyone to eat, yet we just stayed in the cafeteria?
My friend Donny and I decided to find out what was going on. We thought Coach Biatol would tell us, but when we asked him, he didn’t answer. His face looked irritated and grave. Something was wrong. My stomach knotted, and I was uncomfortable.
Maybe food would help. I squeezed onto a bench to eat and listened to all the talk. I heard things that made me wish I would have gone home when I first arrived and saw all the police cars outside. No one would have known I had skipped until the school called. Mom and Dad were both at work. I’d have just told them there were a lot of cops at school and they wouldn’t have cared. They disrespected cops.
I ate a few of my mini blueberry pancakes, and drank some milk, but my stomach churned. I just wanted to get away from the crowd. I started to go on out to the big room like I always do, but no one would let me pass. I didn’t know where to go and I felt afraid.
I pretended to need the bathroom so I could sneak out. As I headed to the exit by the bathroom, a cop asked what I was doing. I know police officers are supposed to be helpful, but the ones that went to my neighbor’s house last week were mean and scary. They slammed my dad’s friend onto the ground and put handcuffs on him. My dad told me that his friend had made a mistake, but the cops didn’t have to act like thugs.
“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Dad said, “and that is why he got in trouble. They didn’t have to slam him down like that, though!”
I wanted to ask the policeman at school what was going on, but what if he slammed me down because I was sneaking out?
Mr. Justin Heathman, the Art Teacher
As I turned the corner to arrive at work, I saw more than ten police cars, and police officers strolling about the school grounds with dogs. “What the hell?” I wondered.
I seriously didn’t feel safe entering the parking lot, and I’m a man! Of course, I started asking questions the second I caught up with another teacher walking across the lot. “Hey, JoAnn. what the heck is going on?”
“Oh didn’t you get the phone tree message? The school is on lock-in today because of some incident from yesterday.” Mrs. Kaden whispered. She had been told that some kid’s dad had said something about coming up to school and shooting a bunch of teachers and kids. She had heard it from Mrs. Blackman, the intermediate science teacher.
“So, how does she know so much?” I quizzed.
Shrugging, Mrs. Kaden replied, “I just think if they knew this yesterday, why didn’t they just call school off today? This is ridiculous for us to come here and risk our lives and the lives of these kids so we can meet some ridiculous number of attendance days!”
Budpha Ibrahim, the 4th grade refugee
We sat on the floor by our classrooms. The teachers came after breakfast. Many adults watched us in the hallway. They told us to read, but kids whispered. The teachers did not get mad. All of us were scared. We did not know why today was different. I sat still and felt my heart beat fast.
Mrs. Dodson, my teacher, came and she acted like every other day. We went into the classroom and it was normal. Kids asked questions. She said not to worry. We would have class like everyday. My friend, Kate, asked if we were practicing for school shootings. I did not understand. Kate asks strange questions.
We could not go outside. We could not go to music class, or PE. The police would not let us walk outside to the other buildings. We could not play outside.
School was over, and they just walked us out and said to go home. Policeman were still everywhere. I felt panic. It is okay to go outside now? I wanted Mama. She waited by the playground each day. It was far to walk. My throat felt funny, but I was not sick.
Oh wait! There is Mama. She is walking up the sidewalk to get me. She looks scared. I just want to go home and lock the door. I will go to my room and sit in the closet. Tabby will sit with me. I will read. It will be just like my country when the war scares me.