Chardon Shooting Presents Reality Check

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The proximity of the Feb. 27 shooting at Chardon High School and the arrest of a Shaker student who brought a semiautomatic weapon to school have raised fear among students that a similar event could happen here.

English teacher Maureen Sylak’s son is a senior at Chardon. He was walking toward the cafeteria that morning when a flood of students ran out after hearing gunshots.

After hearing about the shooting, Sylak explained the only thing she thought was “I have got to get my son.” She described that Chardon was “literally like a war zone.”

Sophomore Hannah Harris expressed sympathy for everyone involved in the shooting. “As I thought more about it, I realized that often times people think that nothing like this could ever happen in Shaker,” she said. “This event serves as a wake-up call that these things can happen anywhere and we need to figure out how these tragedies can be stopped.”

Sophomore Tyler Krantz’s connection to the community influenced his reaction. “It hit so close to home, not only because the shooting happened close to Shaker, but because I go to camp in Chardon. It did make me feel more uncomfortable at school,” Krantz said.

Principal Michael Griffith said recognizing all students as individuals can help prevent tragedies. “If we want to be safe, one of the most important things we can do is know our students and make sure we don’t have any anonymous students,” he said.

Sylak said schools can’t guarantee safety.

“I feel that Shaker and Chardon really and truly are doing everything they can. . . But they can’t stop every leak,” Sylak said.

Senior Bridgett Strong is not scared. “I feel like there are so many people that would say something if they saw something out of the ordinary happening and things wouldn’t get this bad,” she said.

Griffith said that when he found out about Chardon he was sad and disturbed that “any human being was so sad and felt so low that they would do that.”

Griffith explained that Shaker made no announcements about the shooting because, firstly, it wasn’t directly connected to the school and he wanted to keep things as normal as possible. Secondly, he didn’t want to give out false information.

Students were quickly aware of the event nonetheless. “I saw something about the shooting right after it happened but I didn’t believe it. I was in shock,” Strong said. “But as other people started saying stuff about it, I thought, ‘Wow, it’s real.”’

Concerning student safety, Griffith said, “I don’t think we need to change the protocol.”

But, Superintendent Mark Freeman said the district is “planning another meeting with police to see if [the policy] needs revision.”

Strong noted the unpredictability of these events. She said, “We need to take lockdown drills seriously, and I think everyone just needs to be cautious. It always seems unexpected.”

A version of this article appeared in print on 20 March 2012, on page 3 of The Shakerite

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