I was going to write a post about my amazing run on Saturday, but that will have to wait. Somehow it doesn't seem right to write about a run in the sun right now.
Right now there are two families suffering losses I hope I never even have to fathom.
(UPDATE, 2/28, 1pm: And now it's three students that have died. No words.)
Chardon is a small town on the other side of Cleveland. It is very similar in size to Rocky River, where I teach. Our school partnered with Chardon and sent groups of teachers there to learn how to implement their Professional Learning Communities and outstanding Freshmen Mentoring program. I couldn't make it on the days we went since I was on maternity leave, but everyone I talked to at work was really impressed with what Chardon had in place. Mentoring at-risk freshman. Teachers collaborating and using data to identify needs for improvement in the curriculum.
From my experience, Chardon did everything right.
Even their lockdown was well-planned. Their teacher, Frank Hall, showed amazing guts as he chased down the gunman.
I started to really think about this. Things are so, SO different than they were 12 years ago when I started teaching. And definitely WAY different than they were when I was in middle school and high school.
I had it relatively easy in high school--by then, either I didn't care if someone picked on me or the tormenting had pretty much stopped.
But when I was being picked on, pretty much daily, from 5th grade to 8th grade, I knew that when I walked out of that school building it was done. Until the next day. Until I had to see that kid at lunch or in the hallway, and they'd pick on me for being "too smart" or "too fat" or "too tall" or "having hair too dark" or "wearing generic shoes" or insert-completely-asinine-12-year-old-insult here.
It ended at home. I was safe at home.
This culture we've got now is scary. I see these kids with their phones attached to their bodies like another appendage--they are always on. Thank God, and I truly mean that, there was no Facebook or Twitter or YouTube when I was getting bullied. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been able to come out of that as fine as I did if I wasn't able to turn it off for three years straight. If I wasn't able to turn that bullying off at 3:08pm.
It appears that bullying was at least partially a motive. And what used to turn into a fight after school or in the lunch room, has turned into a complete and utter tragedy. And I'm sure everyone will weigh in on what Chardon did or did not do. I'm telling you right now: Chardon did everything they could.
This is bigger than us. And it has to stop.
Prayers for the Chardon community today, and to all who feel that they are hopeless and lost. Prayers that they are helped before they feel this is the answer.