Inadequate communication disillusions


Dorrie Gaeng, Editor-in-Chief

The 2018 school year has been a trying one for the Dulaney community and schools across the country. The Parkland school shooting – followed by the pellet gun scare at Loch Raven High School – have left an unfortunate impression on the community. But with these travesties comes an opportunity for the administration and school community to initiate conversations, communicate with the student body and alleviate our anxieties – something that has proven to be profoundly eerie and difficult to approach.

The Parkland school shooting shook school systems across the country. The next day, as parents silently prayed while sending their vulnerable kids to school, the Dulaney community was welcomed by an accidental fire alarm first period – which happened to be how the Florida shooting began. Thanks for that coincidental scare.

This same day, rumors began circulating about a school shooter at Loch Raven high school. Although the suspect was found before anyone got hurt, this day was filled with uncertainty and anxiety about a “copycat” shooting. And what did we hear from the our administration, from the leaders of our school? Utter silence.

Students lack the knowledge and preparation to deal with these events. Although we did have a lockdown drill, it occurred during fourth period so it would be as convenient as possible, lasted all of three minutes and a majority of classrooms were not even checked. But what do we do if we’re at lunch? Or walking around in the morning before first period? These are questions that students remain in the dark about. Even most teachers do not know.

The school did make an effort to talk to English classes about safety, but after talking to teachers and peers I found there to be huge inconsistencies in both content discussed and the length of time administrators devoted to various classes. Why did some administrators spend an hour in a classroom whereas others designated a whole ten minutes?

I left feeling less at ease than ever.

Some students were lucky enough to have compassionate teachers who chose to sacrifice class time to talk about gun control, mental health and student safety. But the majority of teachers have either not found the class time to facilitate this or didn’t feel prepared to talk about such loaded issues.

Which is why the burden falls to the administration to make sure these pressing issues receive the attention they deserve. As a passionate and zealous student, I am begging, pleading, imploring for access to learn more about the importance of mental health. I want opportunities to advocate for this cause. I want my school to value this. We need the space to attain and inform ourselves. But, none of this can happen without open and direct lines of communication.

If there is anything we’ve learned from the students in Florida, it’s that teenagers are not ignorant and disengaged from the issues that plague our time. Give us the opportunity and we’ll become activists or simply engaged members of the community. We are trying to tell the administration and school board how we feel about health and safety. But the lines of communication are not open. And I just hope something changes before it’s too late.