With the sounds of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas ringing fresh in the ears of students, teachers, and parents alike, the unfortunate events of that week’s lockdown undoubtedly left scars on the Central community. Below, students voice their comments and recollections regarding the events of Monday morning on September 24th.
Students were left to crotch at the corners of classrooms as President McKenna announced that the school was under a lockdown. Ao Wang (278) recollected, “There was the feeling that it was just like any other lockdown we had every year. It was normal, but when you actually hear someone got shot, especially one of our own, it became more real that it could’ve been any one of us.”
Maryem Boualaoui (281) recalled, “During the lockdown, to be honest, I was scared because we heard the girl passing by our hallway crying. But then again, in the neighborhood where Central is located, sadly, this is not surprising. I feel like the school handled everything very well. The administration did what they were suppose to do. However, we should have practiced a lockdown drill beforehand. Not saying that school should have known something like this would happen, but most schools, in general, prioritize fire drills when there’s very rare chance of a school fire ever happening. School shootings and shootings in general are sadly more prevalent in today’s society. Thus, we should have more practice with lockdowns, especially since most of the kids in our class  never experienced a lockdown before.”
Thomas Do (279) voiced, “Like the majority, I didn’t know her very well so I don’t feel too brought down. I do think it was terrible since she’s just a student going to school. No one expects to get shot like that, especially not at school. While we were in the classroom, we overheard a walkie-talkie saying that police have came up, and our class became a tiny bit uneasy.”
For those who know Kayla Le, the emotional impact will be especially traumatizing, however, the bullet left the entire student body frightened and on edge. Jenny Huynh (279) shared, “I had a nightmare that night that I was the one being shot, wasn’t the worst of dreams, but one of the realist. I was on edge the rest of the week, not really letting my guard down, but the fact that my guard has been at its highest is not the best of feelings in the world.”
“The lockdown was taken lightly at first, but after 10 minutes of silence, we all realized a real incident was occurring. I kept hearing different stories; I just wished for everyone to be safe. I couldn’t focus in any of my classes that day. Especially knowing the individual involved, it was a scary moment, but I’m grateful that she’s physically okay now,” commented Andre Pak (278).
For visiting shadows, the frantic event will be ingrained in their memories. Sami Mezoury, an eighth grader who attends Amy at James Martin Middle School, decided to shadow that Monday and was drawn in the mist of events. He commented, “It affected the way I see and feel about the neighborhood.”
As a traditional old school facility, Central remains unequipped, having no cameras or security alarms. Annalisa Quinn (279) voiced her concerns, “I think it’s important for students to be alert and circumspect on their commute to school. Having a police presence can keep the area safer with the traffic in the morning as well as in the afternoon. I also think students should cross at the designated areas. I didn’t like when the metal detectors were down and people were being let through because it made me question the point of going through the scanners in the first place. Furthermore, my grade school had cameras, so I was surprised to see that Central did not have any. I think the doors should be more secure and surveilled. Better outside lighting is important for students arriving early and leaving late. Considering accidents that occurred during my years at Central, these things would make our school feel safer.”
President McKenna plans to install security camera around the perimeter and hallways of the school. Meanwhile, police presence has increased. Students are reassured by the greetings of policemen on duty before and after school. However, students remain on guard, taking extra precautions while commuting to and from school. Joanne Chu (278) commented, “I am scared and I started traveling with a group after Robotics meetings. The shooting is honestly unreal.”
For many, the shooting was indeed unreal, however, as a community, preventative measures and resolutions must be procured to prevent future tragedies. Elisabeth Moore (278) noted, “With LaSalle and Girls High right around us, it’s really easy to forget about the part of the city we’re in and the potential dangers we face. The incident has really opened my eyes to the importance of being aware of my surroundings at ‘all’ times.”
However, despite the seriousness of the situation, some responded to the events with immature comments. Frank Yang (278) responded, “It’s a shame how not enough people take this incident seriously.”
A student who would like to be left unidentified accounted, “I was in the language hallway, and then I heard three shots go off. Everybody started laughing and making jokes because people thought it was just fireworks or those boom snap things. And then a few minutes later, Mr. McKenna announced that there was a lockdown and it wasn’t a drill. Everybody immediately went on their phones and we kinda pieced together what had happened. The whole thing was terrifying. Later, I heard some freshman making jokes about it. I was really pissed and upset because to be honest, anyone of us could have gotten shot. If you were late one day and suddenly you found yourself with a bullet in your arm; you would not appreciate jokes. The fact that you can’t even go to school and be safe is terrible.”
Rickey Miraski (280) admitted, “I feel as if the lockdown wasn’t taken seriously enough. In my advisory, my advisor had us stay in our seats and assured us it was simply a drill. The administration still tested/quizzed students and didn’t make us aware of the so-called ‘extra counseling’ offered. Central is a great school, however, it is in a sub-par neighborhood. I feel as if the event was handled well by administration as it was happening, but the rest of the school day was eerie and messy for both teachers and students.”
Hannah Cheatham (278) added, “I definitely think that we should be taking much more care with how we handle safety within the school… How do we even handle safety inside the school, really? Half the time kids don’t have to go through the metal detectors, and teachers never have to. That’s insane!… We never know when it’s a drill or a real emergency. I’m scared we won’t react properly if someone actually does come into the school with a weapon… We’ve had an active gunman on LaSalle’s campus, haven’t we? So why wasn’t it taken seriously until someone got hurt, and not even for the first time?”
As students walk up the hills and take the buses or subway, they should be aware of their surroundings, taking precautions should there be any suspicious activity. Always walk in groups if possible and be attentive of surroundings. Let the events of the 24th ring in our ears as a reminder of why school safety is a priority.