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School should feel safe and lately our girls have not felt that way.  I’m so glad it’s Saturday and the week is over, honestly this week has been Hell.  Our daughters’ high school has had 3 gun threats this week.  Let that sink in, 3 gun threats, all in just 3 days.

It started Monday when a kid made a harmful threat to the school, I was told he was removed, but I know nothing more.  Then on Tuesday we had a kid bring a gun to school – so I am told and point it at another student.  Then we had our most recent incident which has left parents angry and everyone on edge.

For those of you who are unaware, the schools now practice lockdown drills regularly.  No longer is it just tornado and fire safety drills, now kids regularly hear an alarm, a drill announcement, the teacher runs to lock the door, she covers the window of the classroom door with black paper, they turn off the lights while the children quietly hide.  Usually within a minute or so somebody will pull on the classroom door – to verify it was locked and they would announce the drill was over.  Sadly this is the new normal at school, in between language arts and algebra you also must learn life saving skills if a crazy person wants to kill you while in class.

Wednesday morning my girls starting texting me scared.  They were on hard lockdown.  Haley texted first in a panic, I’m so scared I saw on Snapchat there is a student here that posted a photo of a gun in his backpack saying he was about to shoot up our school.  Then Ashley started texting us in a panic.  As a parent there is nothing worse in the world when your child is frightened and you can’t help them.  NOTHING.  Their texts went like this…

“I’m scared, the alarm is beeping but they aren’t saying it’s a drill, nobody has pulled on our door to check.”

“I think this is real, I’m so scared.”

“One kid didn’t make it to our room before the teacher had to lock the door.”

“We can hear police and noises outside in the hallway.”

“My teacher is pushing furniture against the door.”

“An ambulance is here.”

“I can’t stop shaking I’m so scared.”

“The lights are off and our classroom has no windows, it’s dark and all I hear are loud sounds.”

“I was just sent a video of the police having students face the wall with their arms up.”

“Everyone in the classroom is crying and shaking.  I can barely text I’m shaking so hard.”

“I’m scared I don’t want to be here.”

 

We kept reassuring the girls they were safe behind a locked door, and to trust the police to handle it and to just stay calm.  Meanwhile I was checking the news to see if a story had broke, but saw nothing.  We tried to call the school and the line was busy, so we decided to drive up to the school.  There was an ambulance, several police cars at the front and side of the school, the news, and parents desperately trying to get into the school grounds, all in the rain, it was pretty hectic.  The parents were confused, it was an hour with no word from the school.  Nothing but kids texting parents, then suddenly the alarm stopped and the teachers were allowed to open the doors.

All the students knew something bad had happened, Ashley who is a freshman ran to Haley’s class who is a junior.  During the chaos they some how missed each other, and when she went to Haley’s room and saw she wasn’t there she started crying and having a panic attack.  The teacher had to run down the hall to find Haley and she took Ashley to calm down.

At this point hundreds of confused parents are outside of the school.  Haley said she would finish the day at school but says Ashley’s in such bad shape she needs to go home.  Honestly how can a child be incredibly fearful for their life then be expected to snap their fingers and learn algebra equations?  We still couldn’t get through to the school to request early release so Brian found a place to park and walked inside the school.  There was an insane line of parents to get in the office, he texted Ashley and they just walked out.  Our school is pretty strict with attendance, you can’t just leave.  If your kid is 10 minutes late to class you get a email and voicemail a few hours later.  Haley said at her next class there were only 3 students.   Timber Creek High School is huge with over 4,000 students, many kids got picked up by their parents by checking out, but I was told about 1/2 of the school just walked out, dazed and traumatized.  If the school would have just communicated better, it was chaos and I think it could of been handled much better!

Meanwhile almost 2 hours after the incident we finally hear from the school.  The principal downplayed the incident completely.  She made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal.  She was trying to sweep it under the rug and get it to go away.  You can read the letter the principal emailed to the parents on this news report.  The principal said the lockdown was 10 minutes, read the comments at the bottom of the news report.  It was much much worse and the students will all tell you.  Haley was angry when she read that letter, “Mom, it wasn’t 10 minutes, it had to be at least 30 minutes, it was awful!”  “I’m so mad at our principal she’s making this seem like no big deal, it’s like she doesn’t care.”

Ashley had been home for hours, sad and whimpering by our side.  She is very sensitive and emotional, and I expected her to be like this.  Haley is my tough kid, life has thrown a lot of stuff her way and it has made her stronger.  She handles high stress situations very well.  When she came home she gave us more stories, clarified some things and then she sat on the back patio and stared off into space for an hour.  This is not normal Haley behavior, this affected her deeply.  This was scary and traumatic for not just my girls but for the entire school.  Parents are angry and frustrated with our school which caused another news report.

This is our principal’s first year and I strongly feel she’s doing everything in her power to kill this story.  It’s not looking good for her, it’s only September.   The student who threatened the school, a sophomore was removed and they are trying to charge him with a terroristic threat, no weapon was found on him.  I have no idea if this child is really disturbed or if this was a prank, either way I feel like he’s pretty much thrown his life away.  What a waste.

Earlier in the week a video was taken inside the school of a student pointing a gun at another student.  Thanks to Snapchat everything quickly goes viral pretty quick.  Just what exactly is going on with these kids?  Are this many teens disturbed or in some bizarre way do they find this funny or entertaining?

There is always black paper taped to the door now for these emergencies, how sad is that?  Remember when our teachers would decorate the back of our classroom doors?  Now you get a black piece of paper to put over the window so the crazy gunman can’t see you.

You might think this makes me anti-gun but it doesn’t.  I personally don’t like guns, the few times I’ve been taught I just found it too frightening, but I’m fine with others having them.  Living in Texas it seems everyone has a gun and honestly if a crazy person pulls out a gun it makes me feel better that there is probably a bunch of good guys also with guns who will stop him.  If you’re anti-gun that’s your choice and I respect it, you make some valid points, but so do we.

Regardless of which side you’re on something needs to be done with all of this teen violence in school.  I think a lot of parents have this attitude that when their kids enter high school they need to be supervised less.  They think teens are on the way to adulthood and their job of parenting is easier than ever.  WRONG WRONG WRONG.  Your teenagers need you more than ever now and they need a lot of guidance from you.  Yes they are wiser and smarter now, they roll their eyes and seem to know everything, but they are still the equivalent of a toddler running with scissors.

PARENTS YOU NEED TO BE IN TUNE WITH YOUR TEENS.  You need to be watching for signs your child needs help, when your child shows signs of being emotionally unbalanced you need to snap into action.  It’s when parents just brush it off it as typical teen behavior that we see disasters and lives ruined.

For goodness sakes, parents who keep guns in the home LOCK THEM UP!  It’s as simple as that, keep your guns locked away.  As Haley likes to remind me a kid can get a gun if they really want to.  Yeah, maybe so… there are lots of illegal ways to get them, but it shouldn’t be easy at home.  I think all guns should be secured and locked in the home but especially those who have teens, in the blink of an eye lives are destroyed.

There is sadly still a stigma with mental health issues and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Haley had issues with depression and with counseling she was able to overcome them.  Now Ashley is showing signs of depression and a lot of anxiety and it looks like we’re going to need some counseling again.

The world we live in now is so different, it’s violent and scary.  Teens have more stress and pressure on them than ever before and we as parents must step in and help them.  I just wish when more parents notice drastic behavioral changes they would instantly step into action.  Teens want to act tough and independent but they still need us.  They’re smart, but they’re still learning and whether they know it or not they need our love, attention, and guidance.

The Fort Worth Police Department did an amazing job on Wednesday.  They took the threat extremely seriously and removed the student.  The girls also told me the wonderful job their teachers did, springing into action securing the room and helping the students hide.  I feel confident if a future problem arrises they will do everything in their power to protect our kids, but I pray the threats and violence stops.

We live in North Fort Worth but our girls go to school in the smaller school district of Keller.  We live in a wonderful but extremely large community full of great kids, and we have always found the schools and teachers to be wonderful.  We just want our kids to feel safe and secure at school so they can learn.  My Mom and I were recently talking about the how simple school problems used to be.  It was all passing notes and gum chewing remember?  What a sad state things are in.

When I was looking for a photo of the girls to use I decided on this one, even though it’s close to 2 years old.  Not only is it just a sweet photo it represents my girls’ personalities.  Haley is my warrior, she is strong and will protect.  Ashley is sweet, vulnerable, and needs the love and protection from her sister.   It was taken 2 Christmases ago during low tide at the Thames River, it’s still one of my favorite photos.