Last Wednesday I was getting ready to leave for work. I took a quick look at Facebook and saw someone had posted a link to a developing news story that there had been a stabbing at Franklin Regional High School. My high school. I clicked on it for more information, but there wasn't any. Yet. Now I'm driving to work and my phone rings. It's my sister and she's describing the entourage of police, life flight, ambulances, etc. that she's just passed driving to her work down the street from the high school. She says that it has to be bad. I get to work. I'm watching the live feed on WTAE from my laptop while trying to get ready for my own school day. The news is getting worse. All I can think is...is this really happening? I go outside, get kids inside from their busses, thinking about kids two states away and how their lives are forever changed, thinking about my own four years of high school in that science wing where I had biology, chemistry, anatomy. I remember all my teachers, all my lab partners, all my classmates. I remember sitting in Mr. Adams' math class when I learned about Columbine, walking to Honors Speech and Comp. when my friend told me about the first plane flying into the World Trade Center. But this, this is different. There is only one high school, one tiny community that will never be the same.
I try to get on with my day, but I can't. I can't stop occasionally googling for updates. I'm talking to a third grader in my office and I can hear my phone vibrating continuously. When I return him safely to his own classroom and return to my office to look at my phone, I have a missed call from my sister and a text...call me. This is when I learn that it's so much more personal than it already was. The suspect is someone who I have met. Someone who's house I have been in when it was first built. My mother works beside his father everyday. Unreal. Everything you think you "know" about an event of this caliber is wrong. You really have no idea. You don't know what the community is like until it's your community. You might think you know that it's how the suspect was raised, or that the suspect must have been "the bad kid, the crazy kid, the kid who had no parental involvement," or whatever it is everyone thinks when this kind of thing happens. I know because I use to think those things too. Last Wednesday made me realize I actually know nothing about what's behind every other event like this.
This Wednesday, Franklin Regional goes back to school. At 7:22 a.m. the first bell will ring. Those kids and those teachers, counselors, cafeteria workers, janitors, and the administration are tasked with finding their new normal. I can't even begin to imagine what the last two months of school will be like for them...not as a student, or as a teacher. My heart and my thoughts will be with all of them tomorrow.