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Heart Of The Matter: The Risk Of Exposing Yourself

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In response to the early-morning ambush at a high school in Santa Fe, Tex., on Friday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested schools be redesigned with fewer doors. Had the high school had a single entrance, Mr. Patrick said, the gunman might have been stopped. Mr. Patrick, a Republican, quickly drew criticism from some who said he had minimized the role guns played in the attack.

But as the gun control debate continues in the halls and offices of statehouses, fears of an attack linger in the classrooms and quads where students spend much of their days. In Iowa, Calysta and Courtney sat together on park bleachers Friday night, thinking about the frequency of attacks and the safety of their school.

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Calysta said the school officials “could and should” make the campus more secure. The front doors open directly onto the commons area. “If someone was to come in, they could take out 15 people in a matter of two seconds,” she said.

“I just think it’s kind of sad it’s come to this, where every few weeks you hear about something new,” Courtney said.

Some students are no longer shocked when they hear of a shooting, considering it simply a tragic part of growing up. A gunman will walk into a high school somewhere in America, and open fire.

On the front steps of Roosevelt High School in Seattle on Saturday morning, pregame excitement for a soccer match was in the air. But when students were asked about the latest school shootings, the environment in their school and the potential for violence, the laughter stopped. Voices fell to somber silence.

“At this point it’s just kind of a reality,” said William Neffner, a 17-year-old junior who plays midfield on the team. The once-a-month lockdown drills that the school conducts, he said, have become routine, as have the conversations at home about what to do or not do if a gunman arrived on campus.

“It doesn’t make it more likely,” William said of the drills and conversations. “But it prepares you.”

The advice from his parents, he said, was also filled with uncertainty: He would have to decide on his own precisely what to do, in the moment, if something happened in his school.

“Whatever you can do to stay safe,” he said, quoting his parent’s advice.

Alex Kanya, a 17-year-old senior at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Conn., first learned about the shooting in Santa Fe on Twitter, the same way he had heard of the many attacks before it.

“You open up your phone,” Alex said, “and know that there’s been another mass shooting, and nothing happens.”

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Northwest Catholic recently added signs on the outside of the buildings to help law enforcement officers know where students were, Alex said. School officials have handed down specific guidance about, for example, how to cover door windows with paper in the event of a shooting. Still, the gravity is lost on some of his classmates.

“When there’s some tragedy like Parkland or like Santa Fe, people always say, ‘It’s not going to happen to me,’” Alex said. “When we did our active shooter drills in school, people were cracking jokes and laughing.”

For the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 people were killed just three months ago, the Santa Fe shooting set off waves of emotions: sorrow, fear and a knowing feeling.

Eden Hebron, 14, had just finished her A.P. human geography test when she learned of the attack in Texas. Text messages quickly followed.

“I read the details — 10 people — and it just broke my heart,” said Eden, who was in a classroom at Stoneman Douglas where three students died. “I know the grief and emptiness they are going through knowing their friends were murdered. I know what it feels like to watch your friend die. No child should ever have to experience this.”


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Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/20/us/school-shootings-drills-risks.html

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