Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Community Moving On (After a School Shooting)

It's important to remember, but not to dwell.

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair…Chinese proverb

Some people may wonder, how does a community move on from a school shooting? How do the students react to going back to school days after such a tragedy? How do parents learn to trust the environment that they send their children to daily? Even years, or decades later, do people forget about the tragic events that unfolded years before?

The questions many wonder, or ask, have no easy answer. For everyone, the answers will be different.

For a parent who sends their child to school where a mass shooting has occurred, there is a morality that is put on our children that most parents don't need to think about when they send their children off to school. I'm one of those parents.

Everyday when I pull up to the school, to drop my son off, I scan across school grounds. I think about the terror that occurred in C building, that sits at the front of the school. I think about those 4 people who died in that shooting on  May 1, 1992. Their names have become familiar to nearly every household in our community, even if you didn't know them personally.

Although my mind wanders to tragedy, my heart is met with gratitude everyday I pick him up safely. I know life is short and it all can change in a moment. We must be grateful for today.

I was in high school the year that The Lindhurst Shooting occurred. I watched from my classroom 15 minutes away, as the event unfolded on the news. I had friends that went to the school, as well as shared a bus with their students on the way to ROP classes in town. Through mutual friends, I was acquaintances with two who passed away. We knew that several kids had been shot, but we had no way to know how many, or who.

Most of you have never heard about the Lindhurst Shooting.

This was long before social media, long before cell phones, and way before Columbine.

This type of thing was unheard of.

To this day, come May 1st my Facebook fills with memories of Beamon Hill, Jason White, Judy Davis and civics teacher Mr. Robert Brens. Other days it's just on our minds, but falls on hushed lips.

23 years after, our community doesn't wallow in the sorrow. If fact, we rarely speak of it at all.

Lindhurst High School says the media brings unwanted attention, after every school shooting.
They're ready to move on.

The last thing I want to do here, is to take away from the terror those closely involved went through. I do not care to glamorize the way that the shooting has effected me, except to say that as a whole, if you live in our community this event has effected you in some way. Whether you have children that have attended the school as I have, or if you knew the students who died didn't matter.

That was our school. Those were our kids.

Here's a great write up on the events that unfolded that day in May 1992.

I won't go into the entire events that unfolded that day, but here is an episode of "Hostage: Do or Die" that highlights the Lindhurst Shooting. The only thing I ask, is as you watch this, please understand that this is a real event that happened. This is not a drama or a movie. This is reality.

If you wish to learn more about the story of the Lindhurst Shootings, there is also a movie about it, called Detention: Siege at Johnson High, starring Freddie Prinze Jr, Henry Winkler, and Rick Schroeder. According to comments on the IMBD from people who were actually there during the shooting, the movie did it's homework well, aside from making it seem they were having a pizza party during the hostage portion of the event. While a movie will never compare to actual events, it may put things in perspective as to what these people actually went through.

While searching for images, it's hard to find any of the victims. Most are on Find-a-Grave. In the process, anyone searching is inundated with photos of shooter, Eric Houston. I won't do that here.

Instead I simply want to say, rest in peace to Jason, Judy, Beamon, and Mr. Brens.
Beamon Hill - April 27, 1976 - May 1, 1992

According to Find A Grave "Beamon lived across the street from my youngest son, Kory, in Olivehurst, CA.. He was a good kid, well mannered and respectful of his elders. He had a big heart and always tried to look out for others. This may have caused his death.
Beamon's bravery and selflessness saved Angela Welch's life. But, in the process , it also claimed Hill's young life.

Angela, a 16-year-old Linda girl who Hill pushed out of harm's way, wants the world to know that he is a hero. She said Hill's actions not only kept her alive but, helped saved about two dozen others who were in the classroom when tragedy struck."

Jason Eric White February 5, 1973- May 1, 1992

Eric moves down the hall and shoots Jason E. White in the chest. Jason was charging Eric at the time in a heroic, but unfortunately futile, effort to end the bloodshed. According to Find A Grave, "Jason loved the song, 'The Dance' by Garth Brooks and played it over and over. He was a nice kid that never caused anyone any trouble. What caused him to be murdered on the day Lindhurst High School changed forever? "

Judith Marion "Judy" Davis October 17, 1974- May 1, 1992

Little information is available about Judy, but we know she was in Mr. Brens class during the shooting. She was shot immediately after her teacher was. According the the Columbine Angels website, "I was sent to my grandfather's house after being released from school. He was neighbors with Judy Davis' parents, and close friends with her entire family and Beamon Hill's family. That evening, when Judy's parent's came home after finding out their daughter had died, I heard her mother weeping from next door. The pain in her voice seemed to carry from her house over to me. I had realized at a very early age that, we lived in a world where the young and innocent are no safer and have no longer a life expectancy than the old or evil."

Teacher, Robert Brens August 18, 1963 - May 1, 1992

According to the Appeal Democrat our local paper, fellow teach and friend of Brens, Robert Ledford has never wanted to leave Lindhurst High School, and he is still there, teaching in the classroom where White was killed.

"I've lived here all my life," he said. "I student-taught here. I love teaching here. I love my comrades. It's a hard job, but somebody has got to do it."

Though today's students were not yet born at the time of the shooting, many ask Ledford to share the details.

He and Brens, 28, were colleagues and friends, attending football games together and bettering their teaching skills by taking classes at Sacramento State, and he said he is proud to tell students about Brens.

"I tell the kids, 'Once a year, I will relive it for you,'" Ledford said. "But you can't relive it every day, because it will eat you up."

Ledford talks with his students about the circumstances surrounding that day, starting with the King verdict riots that drove the canceled rally. Then he walks them through the course of events — every shot fired, every person wounded, every person killed.

The memorial that sits in front of Lindhurst High School to commemorate the victims of May 1, 1992

No comments:

Post a Comment