Yesterday, halfway through 3rd period, I was about to start my kids off singing, when suddenly, my choir president said, "Wait! Shh!!" The general chatter died down and I realized that our principal was speaking over the intercom, telling us to evacuate to the football field, as a threat had been found on campus.
This happened a few weeks ago, too. A note was found in a boy's bathroom, stating that a bomb would go off, and the admin team, together with the county sheriff, decided to have us "shelter in place," meaning lock all doors, don't let anyone leave the room. They did a sweep of the campus, determined that nothing was amiss, and the shelter in place was lifted.
Yesterday, it was decided that it was better to evacuate us all to the football stadium, where over 2,000 students and all teachers settled into the bleachers to wait. When the evacuation was announced, my kids calmly lined up and walked together to the field. I locked both of my doors, grabbed a blanket from my office for a girl who has been recovering from pharyngitis, and made sure I had my roll sheet, cell phone, and keys. Then it was off to the stadium, where my kids proved--yet again--that they are rock stars. While other classes got restless and silly in their boredom, mine sat quietly, listening to music on their phones, chatting, even reading. The general consensus seemed to be, "Well, this sucks, but no use complaining." (They were, however, upset with whoever spray painted the bathroom with "a bomb will go off" when they learned that I had been planning on surprising them with cookies at the end of class!)
Fortunately, we weren't outside very long--only about 45 minutes or an hour. When we returned to my room, a door to a back storage room was standing open--one that is usually locked. So a thorough sweep of the school was done, and the admin team and sheriff deputies were satisfied that we were all safe to resume our day.
All of this is getting to a point--and that point is that at no point yesterday did I ever truly feel threatened. I harbor no illusions that this school, just because it is in a "good" neighborhood, is somehow safe from school violence. I know too well that students here are just as capable of snapping under pressure as any other kid in any other school. But I also don't have to live in fear that I am somehow unsafe in my job, simply because I am surrounded by a team of people who take all threats seriously, and respond quickly to make us all safe.
I'm thankful this is the case. I think about people in other parts of the world, even other parts of my own country, who do not have this kind of security. Every day, they wake up wondering what might be thrown at them today--a gunman? Suicide bomber? Drone attack? Racial/ethnic/religious violence?
I don't take my sense of safety for granted.