The Eagle

Through My Eyes: School Shootings

Story by Lucy Smithwick, Online Managing Editor

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In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to hear about a school shooting. Even though it’s a scary thing that students are all aware of, you would never expect it to happen in your city, much less a place just 15 minutes away.

The shooting at Butler High was a shock. Making headlines early Monday morning on Oct. 26, this tragedy affected the community of East Meck as well as Charlotte, as a whole.

I was sitting in my first period class, when at around 8:30 P.M., I received a text from my sister saying, “There was just a shooting at Butler. [Butler is] on lockdown now and the person who was shot is at the hospital. Our teacher interrupted class to tell us that.”

By third period, around 10:45 P.M., the news had been spread throughout the school. It seemed as though everyone at East was wondering if another person had heard about it or if they had heard any updates.

At many Charlotte high schools, student-on-student violence is common and most students have witnessed at least one fight of some form, either verbal or physical. This altercation was originally intended to just be a physical fist fight, but one had other plans.

When the two students, Bobby McKeithen and Jatwan Craig Cuffie, began to fight, other students gathered around to watch, many taking videos of what was going on. Then a shot sounded throughout the hall, sending students running. McKeithen was rushed to the hospital, where he passed away in surgery.

Although it wasn’t your usual ‘guy brings gun to school, shoots at least one person, makes a run for it and it makes national news’ circumstance, it involved a tragedy within a school, a gun, a student being shot and some local news coverage about it. In this case, the debate of whether it counts as a shooting can come into play. I say it does.

If a gun gets brought into a school and is fired, it is a school shooting. There are different types and factors that can be accounted for, but that’s the general meaning. And since we live in the 21st century, most people have heard on the news about some major shooting.

Students from the late 1990s had the Columbine High School massacre to influence their lives and how they go about it. Students from the 2010s had the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to shape their minds. Finally, students from now, the late 2010s, had the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School shooting.

Each one was devastating as the next, all including innocent students and teachers being killed, creating monuments of people too young to need to be remembered for their death. Heroes were made of people who were just doing their jobs to protect their students, such as Coach Aaron Feis who died shielding students from gunfire at MSD.

He was the assistant football coach at the school at the time of the tragedy, and when he heard that there were shots, his first instinct was to protect the students. With many teachers, however, there’s another response.

After the MSD shooting, East’s security was increased. A few days after that, we had a lockdown due to a robbery across the street from school. It happened earlier in the morning than students were used to, and so it was a surprise to many. Kids ran into the nearest classrooms for safety, but because of the panic, some were locked out by frightened teachers.

After learning that it was just a precautionary measure and not an actual shooting, the reactions to the rejections of safety cooled down, but not by much. Students were shocked to hear that if it were a lockdown without warning, some teachers would think of themselves first and do the minimum for others.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools policy calls for the doors not being opened once their closed when the school is on lockdown, but it also states that “Before locking doors, staff must first visually check hallways and restrooms. If other staff or properly identified visitors are in the hall, move them quickly into your own room and lock the door.”

Of course, it’s human nature to protect oneself before going to others, but I feel that as teachers, it’s their duty to do the most that they mentally can to keep kids out of danger, even if it’s simply keeping their door open for a few more seconds or making sure no one is in the hall. Coach Feis did the maximum and became a hero for it, but if a teacher called kids into their already-full room, they could save lives.

I’m not asking for adults to risk their lives, just that they treat their students like their lives do, in fact, matter. This can help those whose social mentalities are already not in the best place, those who are already struggling with their school work and those who have tough home lives.

School shootings are tragedies that happen too often and should be reduced. Teachers protecting their school and students is just one way. Seeking out help for students who seem troubled and as if they’re at risk is another. Overall attempting to keep the school as a safe and trustworthy environment for all should be the major goal in teacher’s minds.

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