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TEENS: Growing up with school shootings

Alexandra Koubek
Alexandra Koubek

“The high school is now under lockdown.” 
One announcement, seven words, is all it takes to send a school into gut wrenching fear. Every student in the room goes silent as the teacher gets up, locks the door and turns off the lights with a scared, sick look on their face. 
They crouch in the dark, huddled together and whispering fearfully about what the danger could be. Most try to remain rational, believing the threat to be a minor one, such as a disturbance in the community. However, fear still creeps into their young minds. A fear of what they’ve grown up seeing on the news. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Stoneman Douglas. The lockdown could last minutes or hours until the “All clear,” announcement plays and lets everyone breathe a sigh of relief. This situation is all too familiar for high school students like myself.

Students around my age have the unique experience of growing up with lockdown drills in addition to the regular fire and tornado drills in school. These drills have been prompted by large school shootings in recent years. Lockdown drills seem somewhat reminiscent of the duck and cover drills of the 1960s. As a child, I never questioned the drills or was particularly afraid of them; they were just what we had to do. I didn’t begin to understand what they were all about until fifth grade, when I learned of the shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008, because our teacher was sad during our Valentine's Day party.

When I was in seventh grade, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary happened. I remember my mom picking me up from school that day, which was strange because I usually rode the bus, and giving me a big hug right in front of everyone. When we got home, she let me watch what happened on the news. Back at school the following Monday, our English teacher addressed what happened and let us talk about it. I cried. After that, I began to take notice of the security changes my school had implemented.

My school is safe. All the outside doors are always locked, we know what to do in a lockdown situation, and there are security cameras everywhere. Not to mention it’s in the middle of nowhere where nothing ever happens. 
However, it’s easy to be afraid when you’ve grown up seeing school shootings so heavily covered by the media. Everyone who is interviewed always says they never thought it would happen to them, but it did. The victimized schools never see it coming. That’s why it’s so easy to be afraid when your school goes into lockdown. 
With the latest shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, topics like this are at the forefront of my mind. It is important that society addresses situations like these. No matter what you believe the solution to be, it is important to keep the conversation going and do something about it, because drills can only do so much.
ALEXANDRA KOUBEK is a senior at Serena High School. She can be reached via

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