Staff Editorial: Generation Lockdown speaks up

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Staff Editorial: Generation Lockdown speaks up

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Feature Photo By: Roman Edwards -Senior Karly Tremble poses for a photo essay showcasing  the faces of Rangeview. Many students from Rangeview and APS have seen multiple school shootings in their lifetimes and have been named Generation Lockdown. 

After 20 years of an increase in school shootings, our generation has been named: “Generation Lockdown” for being the generation that has seen the most amount of gun violence and the least amount of action to change the status quo.

Many students lose their lives every day to a bullet that lies inside the chamber of a gun; schools aren’t safe yet no one is talking about it.

As a society, we act as if nothing happened, as if nothing was wrong because we have become numb to the realness of death.

As policymakers are caught up with the politics of guns and other factors that contribute to these shootings, another school falls victim of a stagnant topic –NO CHANGE IS HAPPENING.

Students talk to staff at the Kings Soopers meeting spot for parents to reunite with their parents on November 2nd. (Myriam Alcala)

Instead of being angry and ignore the extent of this issue, we –the students– came together to affirm the reality of these school shootings and call out the flaws in our system.

Similar to the nation and even the state of Colorado, Aurora Public Schools has maintained an ancient stance on active shooter protocols and turned a blind eye to the lack of resources our schools are given to possibly prevent these tragedies.

Instead of waiting around for change that is not going to come from these “higher ups,” unfortunately it is up to us to take the lead in protecting ourselves and provide an action plan.

Lack of Mental Health Resources in APS:

Depression affects 20 percent of teens before becoming adults; mental illness is real and we need talk about it; we need to destigmatize it. But to do so, we need resources.

In Rangeview specifically, our student-to-counselor ratio is somewhere between one counselor for every 480-500 students when the recommended ratio is 250:1 and even with the two new counselors added for next year at Rangeview, we are still far from meeting this ratio.

Mental health should not be used to justify these shooter or be used as a sympathy pass for these “troubled” teens but the counseling schools provide is greatly impact whether these students who pose a threat are identified BEFORE a tragedy.

Counselors are taught to keep their doors open and follow protocol as Rangeview Counselor Mr. Eck explained, “We try to make sure that after something like this happened, that we keep our calendars pretty open […] the district actually has a crisis counseling team where counselors from around the district would come to Rangeview to support the students.”

There’s two problems here:

  1. Increased counselor support is given AFTER a tragedy when it could have been possibly prevented before if we had enough resources.
  2. There is an inherent shortage of mental health resources in Colorado and Crisis Centers are being underfunded and many are closing.

In a school as big as Rangeview, a threat may easily slip among the students because of the lack of resources provided by the state and district –it is not the counselors fault, Eck emphasized how they make do with what we have but again –it’s not enough.

Even with the increase in mental health funding which in turn allowed Rangeview to hire more counselors for the upcoming year, mental health remains as a taboo topic in Colorado.

Voters rather talk about mushrooms and marijuana rather than Mental Health –we need to fight for this topic to be talked about in the local government level, among voters, and most importantly, in our district.

Insufficient and ineffective Lockdown drills:

Imagine this, you’re in the bathroom when the intercom goes off and announces a threat in the building –an active shooter. In that moment of panic, every decision of what to do next matters: some may get in a stall, close the door and then stand on the toilet where some may run to the nearest classroom; often in that situation, drill or real, student may have no clue what to do.

Lockdown drills, specifically in Aurora Public Schools, lack a sense of originality and overall modernization to work in today’s day and age. We have practiced the same drills for more than 12 years as the world we live in changes –our drills don’t account for the heightened threats of active shooters.

What if there’s a substitute? What if we’re in the halls or bathroom? What if we’re in the library? What if the shooter is a student that knows the school and all its “hot spots”?

“We had a substitute for the class — Mr. Rose,” said Alexis Drummond, Review Staff, in her opinion piece from November Second. “He didn’t have a key directly to the room, and there was no time for anyone to make sure that the door was locked. This was when I came to the realization that I had been the closest one to the door.”

Many substitutes on that day did not know what the protocols for a lockdown were, therefore, resulting in impulsive actions that could’ve cost many lives.

Student and mother reunite after a threat of a supposed gun in the building at Rangeview. (Myriam Alcala)

Our lockdown drills only teach staff and students to stay where we are and take cover.

In fact, school shooters have become a more likely event than fire drills yet there has been no effort to relook at lockdown protocols; instead, we waste half a class period every month on a fire drill.

That’s not enough.

Aurora Public Schools face many threats such as the ones seen at Central and Rangeview; although we cannot stop a student from walking into the school with a gun, we can redesign the protocol of lockdown drills.

District: sanction a new protocol for lockdown drills that account for situations where students are at a heightened risk because of the location they are in the school or because of a substitute. In a school district that is at high risk every day, protocols should not be an afterthought as they have been for the last 12 years because our lives are at stake. Include student opinion in how to build a new system because no one understands more than students on what it’s like to be in a life or death situation.

Aurora Schools: Plan our individualized protocols for students. Each school has a different structure so the safe spots may vary; use a school map to plan out and inform students of the school on what to do in various situations.

Rangeview: We have a fire drill every month yet not a single red lockdown has been administered or even talked about in classrooms in the last year. Although these drills may cause trauma and are “inconvenient”, practicing makes for a safer environment and if our school were to ever be put in that situation, with regularly administered drills, the shock would not affect how students react as greatly as it would if we simply do not know what to do. Monthly drills may not be necessary so we suggest that a happy medium would be one in the beginning, middle and end of the year to keep it fresh in student’s memories without being “excessive”. These drills should also be coupled with information on what to do if we were in the library or bathroom or commons since these are hotspots of the school.

We need more;

We deserve more;

Why wasn’t Columbine enough?

 

(Editorial Members: Alexis Drummond, Aaron Chapa, Cade Palmer, Caroline Smith, Irl Paulalengan, Katiana Williams, Lily Eberly, Oscar Perez, Salmata Soulemane, Toli Geshow, Jayah Caley, and, Myriam Alcala)