Each Tuesday the amazing bloggers at Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Stories (SOLS). This is where bloggers link up to share anything they would like to share about what is happening in their lives.
My twelve year-old daughter has always had difficulty with feeling safe. She checks to make sure the doors are locked before heading to bed and asks us about the possibility of intruders regularly. At school she worries when the school has lockdown drills as she does not know if they are real or if her teachers could keep her safe in the event of an emergency. She has heard about school shootings and asks lots of questions. Most of the time I am able to put her fears to rest by talking about how we live in a small, safe town in Maine. People look out for each other, we know each other. Bad stuff just doesn't happen here. This has always worked fairly well (although I do realize it was not the best strategy on my part) and even I naively believed that my kids were always safe in school....until last week.
Last week our small town got a horrible wake up call. On Monday, I received a phone call I never thought I would get. A pre-recored message told me that a "credible and unspecified threat" has been made to the Windham School District and schools were being released early. The middle school (where my daughter attends) and high school would go home first and then the primary school (where my son attends and my husband is a secretary). As I listened, I was standing in my own classroom filled with 4th graders. My entire family could be in danger, but I had to hold it together. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to leave school and go grab my babies. I called my mother-in-law who is staying with us and she was already on her way to get Molly. It would be another hour or so before the Primary School would let out. I knew better than to call the school which, I correctly assumed, was busy fielding calls and preparing to get the students either to their buses or into the arms of the several hundred anxious parents in line at the school.
The waiting was torturous. Every terrible scenario replayed in my mind. My husband works the front desk of his school.
Finally I heard from him and they were all safe at home, thank God!
The school department worked tirelessly for three days to find out what happened while the schools remained closed. On Monday morning two district administrators both received an email stating that the sender had plans to attack a school and planned to do so on that day. The email was apparently specific and full of anger. During the investigation the school district and police kept parents and community members informed every step of the way. Finally on Wednesday afternoon it was announced that a suspect was in custody. A 16 year-old boy is accused of sending the emails. Evidence was found in his home that showed he could have carried out his threats.
Although there was some relief that a suspect had been found, the town is in shock. How could this happen here? After the tragedy of Sandy Hook (whose anniversary was also last week) the sad and infuriating truth is that no town is completely safe. I thank God for the decisions made by the school department and the authorities and their dedication to making sure school would not resume until they found out where the threats had come from. I thank God for the teachers who kept the students calm even though I am sure they were frightened. I thank God that no one was hurt.
Remarkably, my daughter has not asked many questions about her safety at school since this event. This experience has shown her that scary things can happen in her town and I hate that she knows that. However she saw how the teachers, school officials and police all kept her (and everyone) safe. Since I can no longer give her guarantees, I think she finds comfort in knowing she is surrounded by adults that would do anything for her well-being.