California School of the Arts

Things I learned after our lockdown

Things I learned after our lockdown:

  1. It is not a drill.
  2. How quickly lunch turns into a sprint for the classrooms: less than a minute.
  3. There (are) 40 of us in one room. There is no teacher in the room and I can’t stop wondering why everyone knows what to do like it’s a built-in instinct.
  4. In the dark, phones are passed around. Desks are stacked up by the door. We are all moving, grabbing heavy objects. A girl calls the office, does a headcount, writes down everyone’s names. Others comfort the students crying through ragged breaths, trying too, to keep calm.
  5. When it’s finally quiet, I know my friends and I are waiting to hear gunshots. Why we automatically assume the worst, I do not know. I cannot tell if it is because we did not know what was going on or if the names are echoing in our heads: Parkland, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech.
  6. For the first time, I am glad we do not have windows on our classroom walls.
  7. It is silent from outside. Whenever we hear a noise, we jump.
  8. I can’t remember the last thing I said to my mother.
  9. I now know that my friend wants to be buried in a white tux.
  10. I never, ever want to see him in a white tux, and now I am suddenly worried that I will see him in one too soon.
  11. The tension is almost as grating as the sound of helicopter blades too close overhead.
  12. If I die, maybe I won’t have to take any more AP exams. I know I am joking with myself to cope. I don’t know that I want to admit it though.
  13. Maybe I actually want to take those AP exams, study the history of our nation rather than be another tragedy in its history.
  14. An hour and many text notifications later, we learn that we are safe. And realize how lucky we are lucky to be safe.
  15. In the sunlight outside, we embrace our friends.
  16. I now know which one of my friends will be the ones that hold open the door for others, which one of my friends will be the ones calming others down, which one of my friends will be the ones barricading the doors. That all of them have the potential to be such strong people.
  17. I think about how horrible it is to feel lucky to be able to walk out of school alive every single day.

On April 26, Duarte High School, Northview Middle School, and California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley were advised by the Los Angeles’ Sheriff’s Department to lock down the school due to police activity in the immediate area at the beginning of lunch. All students and teachers made appropriate decisions based on our previous training and the whole campus was locked down in under a minute. During the lockdown, the Remind Emergency Alert Application was used to keep students and parents updated on the situation. At 1:05 p.m., we received the all clear signal.

(Read more here and here.)

In the following days, our school will begin to discuss with us the difference between an “active shooter” and a “lockdown” as directed by the LASD. While there was no immediate threat to the interior campus, the realization that we need to be taught to be prepared for an active shooter with the reason to believe we could die simply by being at school hit a little too close to home. The Parkland shooting happened only two months ago. The conversation needs to keep going until being safe at school isn’t so much a privilege, but rather a promise.