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Observations on the Evacuation

By Christopher Wong, Chief Editor

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Weathering the rain’s increasing downfall, two students embrace in front of the student parking lot on Wednesday, March 14, the morning of the threatened shooting. (Photo by Chris Wong)

“Try not to mention the bomb threat,” a Link Crew member instructed the student performers for the Cougar Day middle school rally, in which middle schoolers would have received the opportunity to get a sample of student culture at Kennedy. The Link Crew wanted to make sure the middle schoolers felt safe at Kennedy.

I play marimba in the Kennedy drumline. After all the other performing groups practiced, we performed our rehearsal run through of our show, Waiting. The final sounds of the show filled the auditorium. Barely ten seconds passed. The drum set cymbal still sizzled as the alarm blared, sending an auditorium full of student performers into a panic. Several other drumline members rushed to the backstage to replace the back auditorium and band room door bars, which allow the doors to lock.

A friend had run out to replace the bar for the band room. Without that bar, the students in Mr. Stroh’s 3rd period choir class would have been vulnerable, two large doors unlocked. My head went back and forth, to the left, my friend as he reinstalled the bar, to the right, Stroh motioning for us in the backstage to get inside.

If there was a shooter out there, prowling the halls ready to rip life from any who dared to exist in that moment, my friend could have been spotted, shot, and dead.

If there was a shooter, then why did groups of performers frolic towards the foyer, the glass entrance to the auditorium, a giant window that could’ve displayed the amount of life to be potentially lost inside. One of the band directors Mr. Hammond had to shout to round people back up in the large, windowless (comparatively much safer) room.

The digital bells rang, signifying an announcement. Principal Van Natten calmly began instructing students and staff on the next steps with the bomb threat, evacuation, to enormous applause and cheer, shouts suffocating any important directions Van Natten was giving.

The current of expletives rushed, attempting to burst out of my mouth, but instead leaking in a whisper.

I struggled for words, but band director Mr. Hammond put it much more simply, with much more PG language, “You probably didn’t hear that because we’re too busy being loud.”

“I heard it,” a voice sassed back from the rear of the auditorium, and parroted by more nearby.

If there was a bomb in here, anxiously awaiting a fatal trigger to bring widespread demise, everyone in that auditorium could’ve been reduced to rubble, lost as for what to do, just hoping for a repeat of the route out.

If there was a bomb, then why did groups of performers rejoice at the thought, sweet release from public school, worse than our siblings sitting under desks in the C building, potentially facing their end.

At first I thought it was wrong for my primary emotion during the evacuation to be anger. However, that anger was rooted in fear. I just watched a friend potentially risk his life to save students, and afterwards a small group of people threatened to undo that work. I feared that I would be separated from my sister in the C building.

When the alarm bells go off, we don’t know what’s out there. People have different responses to crises. Some cry; some laugh.

However, unnecessarily increasing the danger to other people’s lives is unacceptable. Shouting across the room to call the people who are attempting to protect you and your friends a “bitch” is unacceptable.

Frankly, when an event as large scale as a bomb threat ambushes campus, your pride is not a priority. Safety, safety of you, your friends who you care about, others, others’ friends who they care about, should be everyone’s priority.

I don’t like the word evacuate. I prefer vacate, because there should be no “u” in an evacuation. Have some respect for others’ safety.

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