When I was a sophomore, just 15 years old, a boy in my grade got expelled for having a hit list.
I was on it.
The school called to tell my parents about it.
I answered the phone. I never told them.
I knew they would be afraid, because I was afraid.
I started to beg my parents to move. Let me go to school somewhere else, anywhere else.
I could handle it, I said.
(I want to feel safe, I didn’t say.)
Something I didn’t expect: I was still afraid. Every day, I worried that today would be the day that a classmate snapped and the school would drown in a rain of bullets.
For those old enough never to have gone through the drills, a hard lockdown means the lights go off, the doors get locked, and you must be silent and still until it is announced otherwise.
And then the news alert came on my phone.
It wasn’t my school.
It was Sandy Hook Elementary, about 30 minutes away.
I was still afraid.
I carry that fear with me. Malls, movies, concerts, churches.
We are failing a whole generation of kids who deserve to feel safe, who deserve to experience learning as something joyful, and not traumatizing.