The past few days have quite emotional for me. The worst happened last Friday when one of our students was accidentally shot and killed with a pellet gun by a former student. Tragically, we lose several students a semester, but this one has certainly been a different kind of heartbreaking.
The young men were outside shooting pellet guns when our student, Will, was struck. The pellet punctured his chest area and caused damage that led to his death. I feel so incredibly devastated for that student, his family, his friends, and everyone who was there that night, but especially the young man who shot that pellet that ended Will’s life. We still do not know what happened exactly, but it seems to be a truly horrifying accident at this point. It is so many layers of tragic, including the fact that Will was set to graduate next month.
Someone once asked me why I was so upset at the loss of a student I had never met. I was a bit surprised by this, then realized that this person had never worked in education. Almost everyone I know in education feels personally responsible for every student. I do not teach students and I only know a small percentage of the 30,000 students who matriculate here, but they are MY students. I am personally invested in their success and well-being, even if I do not actually know them. What affects our students affects me, and what hurts them hurts me. I think most people in education feel the same way, and that is how it should be.
If you have young people, then I would also encourage you to talk to them about the importance of calling for help when something is wrong. The young people in this situation appear to have called 911 as soon as they saw that Will was hurt, but we have so many situations where a life is lost because they were too afraid to call. It does not matter how drunk you are, how old you are, the drugs you took, or what you are doing. If you do not call 911 when someone is in trouble, then the consequences will be a billion times worse (on top of the trauma of someone dying because you did not get them help). If your kid is ever somewhere and they are worried about someone’s life, then please help them understand how important is it is call for help. It is not lost on anyone what it takes to call for help when you are doing something illegal or problematic, but JUST DO IT.
I am also completely gutted over Notre Dame. I keep reminding myself of everything that was destroyed during wars that we have rebuilt and restored. Notre Dame will be rebuilt, but it’s heartbreaking to watch a building of such architectural and historical significance be damaged. I am so grateful for the firefighters, police, and priests who put their lives on the line to put out the fire, save so many of the artifacts, and to protect the structure. I feel so lucky that I have witnessed her magnificence in person.
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