Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 24, 2018

Just another school shooting

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | May 25, 2018

The news cycle is a broken record.

Just this morning shots were fired at a middle school in Indiana.

As of Friday, May 25 at 10 a.m. a suspect was in custody for the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Ind. and two people were being transfered to a hospital.

Yesterday, Mt. Pleasant Middle School investigated threats of violence made by a student towards the school.

A week ago, 10 people died in the 22nd school shooting in the U.S. this calendar year where someone was hurt or killed.

The Santa Fe High School shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday, May 18 had the most casualties since the school shooting in Florida in February, but there were 13 school shootings since then that didn’t make waves in national headlines.

School shootings are commonplace now. When Santa Fe shooting survivor Paige Curry was asked by her local television station to describe the scene, she stunned viewers by explaining that the shooting didn’t surprise her.

“Was there a part of you that was like, ‘This isn’t real. This could not happen at my school?’” the KPRC interviewer asked.

“No. There wasn’t,” Curry responded. “It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always felt it would eventually happen here too.”

The mass hysteria of active shooters reached Mt. Pleasant’s own middle school this week after two students offhandedly made threatening comments toward the school, prompting an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department.

While it still is unknown to the public what threats were made, the threats are contained and the students are facing criminal charges.

The conversation surrounding mass shootings can no longer be about gun control — regardless of what side you fall on in that debate.

The answer does not lie in blaming the victims either, however, encouraging students in the aftermath of a school shooting to befriend loners.

The #WalkUpNotOut philosophy gained momentum in March when David Blair, a retired Texas junior and high school teacher, urged students to reach out to lonely classmates and walk up to them instead of walking out on National School Walkout day on March 14.

Critics find this logic faulty, saying that while there is never anything wrong with teaching compassion and kindness, 16-year-olds cannot shoulder the weight of other factors involved in these tragedies such as mental illness.

So why not do both? Walk up and walk out.

That’s what Mt. Pleasant Community High School’s (MPCHS) lone student protester preached on National School Walkout day earlier this year. As freshman Jude Beasley stood outside the high school on a chilly March morning, she spoke about how, as an outsider, she understood the need to appreciate her peers and be respectful of them, regardless of their differences.

In the end though, school administration needs to consider more holistically how to work with teachers, staff, parents and other students to improve relationships.

Curtis Bjork is one of the teachers at MPCHS doing exactly that. Transitioning his classroom from traditional teaching to a self-paced, individualized learning setting, Bjork is connecting with his students in ways he hadn’t been able to before.

The self-learning pace means instead of standing at the front of the classroom, Bjork is constantly roaming and talking one-on-one with his students. That’s how he found out one of his students was suicidal.

“I never would have known that if I was teaching traditionally,” he told The News in an interview earlier in May. “ … The teacher-student relationship is the biggest factor.”

This is the intention of the Mt. Pleasant Community School District, with Superintendent John Henriksen telling The News in February that they have done some things recently to help teachers be more aware of students who might be struggling with signs of depression.

The New London Community School District is employing the same philosophy — relationship building. “The last thing we want is for teachers to be thinking, ‘If someone’s going to come back and shoot up New London it’s going to be this person or that person,’” New London District Superintendent Chad Wahls said in an interview with The News in February. “We don’t want people to be making those assumptions … What we talk about a lot more is relationships and building good relationships with the students.”

If the U.S. can’t make a decision on gun control maybe it can at least begin looking out for struggling students and people, following the “see something, say something” motto Henriksen said was employed in the potential threat at the middle school earlier this week. And more importantly, following through with investigating when someone shows signs of potential violence.

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