Procrastination (But I Digress)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lock Down

Adam asked if he could leave school early last Friday to go to a concert. His friend (an honors student who would never intentionally miss school if it were not a really good reason) was going and the friend's mother was driving. If David miss two classes and Adam's ride to the concert was leaving early, I voted to let Adam leave early. On Friday afternoon I got an e-mail from the president of the pta that the high school was on lock down. My initial reaction was I am so glad we let Adam leave early today.

The initial report was that there was a report of a student with a gun at the middle school across the street from the high school, so as a precaution, the high school would go on lock down until they found the kid with the gun. When the school goes on lock down, they don't tell the students why they are on lock down. There are 2,000 students on the campus and they all have cell phones. They were told not to talk, so they were all texting. Within minutes of the e-mail from the pta president, Adam called his mom to tell her that Jade had texted him that the school was on lock down.

There was nothing on the news, but then Adrienne received a mass call from the principal--a recorded message that said a hostage situation had been reported at the high school and now swat was in charge. The school would stay on lock down and the students would not be permitted to leave. Finally about two hours later I got another e-mail from the pta president that the students were being let out the side gate room by room. There were helicopters that we could see over the school the whole time. We got another mass call from the principal praising everyone's participation and that there was no threat found at the high school. It was an air gun found at the middle school and three seveth graders were under arrest.

I'm afraid that I didn't get it. It just didn't seem that serious to me. Perhaps since Adam wasn't actually there, it didn't hit home. Perhaps since Frankie had been arrested for having a beebee gun at school (the high school) without great incident--Frankie wasn't going to shoot anyone, he was just a dumb kid. The scary kids that I've met at the high school will shoot someone, but not just anyone at random. These are business people, future mafia, very professional. But I digress.

It hit home last night at the pta meeting. The principal described the events from his perspective and a few of the kids shared their experience. One of the pta mom's was in the classroom just as the lockdown happened, so she also spent two and a half hours crouched behind a desk. One of the substitute teachers left the door open and was going in and out of the door on his cell phone. The students perceived this as a threat and so they confronted him. He started screaming that they (the students) were trying to kill him. His screaming was close enough to the principal, so that he thought he would be the hero and locate the threat, so he ran out toward him (without knowing that swat was around the corner). Swat thought that the principal was the threat and pointed all their guns on him putting him on the ground and then proceeded to turn the guns on the students, who this off the wall substitute teacher was yelling were trying to kill him.

All I could think was who decided to call in swat. What trigger happy person decided that guys dressed all in black with rifles was going to improve the situation at the high school. What was the end game here? Did a review of colunbine or virginia tech show that swat would have saved any lives? Isn't there anything in between no police or security and swat? The police were called to investigate a report of a student with a gun at the middle school. A girl was mad because a boy she didn't know cut in line ahead of her, so she pulled off his back pack and was going to pull out the contents. She felt something that she thought was a gun, so she reported it to a teacher. The police were called and they interviewed her. The gun they eventually found after searching the entire school was an air gun. Neither the back pack, nor the students involved matched the description by the girl. Apparently this is common--eye witness information is incredibly inaccurate.

I guess that I can understand that the initial decision to lock down hoover--there is a report of a student with a gun across the street. Let's play it safe, and make sure that that student is not at hoover. What was the plan--no one was able to make that clear to me. Wait and see if there is no shooting for twenty minutes? Thirty minutes? Instead 2,000 students text their parents that they are in lock down in a school in which 23 different languages are spoken in the homes. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this message might get distorted. But do the police use any of their brain cells--no they escalate immediately to swat.

Adrienne thinks the police were absolutely correct to call out swat and that if they had shot the principal, it was his own fault for going toward the shouting man. My fear is that if he hadn't gone toward the shouting man, what if a student fearing that the shouting man was endangering his life and the life of his fellow students had gone toward the shouting man. What if that student was perceived as the threat by swat and killed. The principal knows that the guy dressed all in black with the rifle is swat. I don't know what a teenager knows in a situation of great stress.

I just wish someone with brains was in charge of assessing the situation. This was not an eye witness that saw kid with a gun out threatening anyone. There was no report of a gun at the high school. The police were already at the middle school searching for the reported gun in a back pack. The police knew or should have known that the high school went on lock down. The police knew or should know that every student is going to be texting messages out. The police knew or should have know that miscommunication was likely. There was no actual witness of a threat--there was an anonymous call which they claim was from an adult (how would they actually know?? and how does someone call in anonymously anymore with caller id??) I am ashamed at how poorly this was handled by the police and as the incoming pta president of the high school, I am going to make a lot of noise to make sure better plans are in place for real emergencies.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Adrienne and I went to see Georgia Rule on Friday. It was really good, but it made me realize that I haven't liked many movies lately. It used to be that there was always something out that I wanted to see or rent or buy. No more. Music and Lyrics was mildly amusing and it is out of dvd, but I have no interest in seeing it again. We saw about 10 previews before the movie on Friday and there were a few that I wouldn't hate, but many seemed off the wall. That makes me feel old, but it also makes me glad for the younger generation. I'm happy that they are getting uniqueness even if I wouldn't want to see it.

Lately it is commercials that make me the happiest. I don't know if the copyright has expired or if Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney have had to sell the Beatles library, because more and more commercials are using their songs and I love them. Somehow they sound so much better in the commercial than my popping in a cd. I have no idea why. I sure hope that the kids like them as much as I do, so that they will keep playing them.

I only read two books on my trip last week--that's really slipping for me. I don't read hardly at all anymore. I just can't figure out what I am doing with all my time. It could be my eyes--I was working on a brief yesterday and I looked up cases, but I couldn't make my eyes focus enough to read the citation. That was scary. I need that citation. Luckily with a whole lot of squinting, I finally made it out. I'll get a magnifying glass for the office, but it probably makes more sense to go to the eye doctor. It's always something.

I'm almost out of girl scout cookies--PTA monday gets my last loose boxes and Council gets the left overs after that. The post office did a food drive and so I was able to put out the extra full cases I had for them. That was much easier than finding the local food bank which is hidden and not open regular hours. I'm on the nominating committee for ABWA--that's a little scary. It's hard to say no when it's your job to fill a slate. The Kiwanis fundraiser is all over and went ok without me. Next its the picnic, but I don't have to start planning that for a while. I think this is my last semester teaching--this class really wears me out. They don't want to be there and after ten minutes, me neither. I'm doing what I can to make it interesting and relevant, but there are certian required things, so there's only so much I can do. I need a joke for Toastmasters--the subject is Mother's Day.

Well Mom that's the mundane on this side of the country--how's everything with you?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I met him(we're friends--read 12/7/06)

I just couldn't remember why I knew his story. Dr. Kent Keith is the author of the Paradoxical Commandments--the do it anyway sayings. He wrote this pamplet in 1968 at college when he was 19 and didn't think about it again. In 1997 he found out that people all over the world had put it on bookmarks and posters, etc. Mother Teresa had a poster with it hanging on her wall. People attributed the sayings with Mother Teresa, but not so. I just went back and read my old posts--Dec. 7, it was the Roches who told me the story. He was a very nice fellow and he gave away bookmarks with the saying on it, so I stopped by his booth at the PTA convention to get a book mark. I wish I had remembered that I knew his story from the Roches--I would have had a conversation with him. He looked kind of bored sitting at that booth giving away the gems he wrote when he was 19.

He was the keynote speaker for the PTA convention. He told a very cute story about his wife of 30 years. She really gives meaning to his life, but she is great at keeping him centered and grounded too. One time they were at a friends pool party and they sat on a love seat after getting out of the pool. His wife looked him in the eyes and he felt that she touched his soul--he'd never felt so connected to another human being. As he went to embrace her, she said, don't move, I'm checking my mascara in the reflection of your sunglasses.

The Paradoxical Commandments are:
People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
Kent M. Keith 1968, 2001.

MJ, this is for you.