Editorial | School Shooting, When Horror Intrudes
Comments from Annie: This is a nightmare. The stress and stakes supplied by NCLB are killing our kids.
"...in the words of one parent, Halligan apparently despaired over falling grades."
This is too horrible to fathom, and too urgent not to try...
No school, no community - much less, the teenagers who embody the hopes of both - should be put to the awful test that confronted Springfield Township in Montgomery County on Tuesday.
The halls of Springfield Township High School should teem with classroom-bound students, not panicked youngsters fleeing a gunman in fear.
When pushing through the doors to the school library - where student Shane Halligan took his own life early Tuesday - students are prepared to seek answers.
This week, they faced a question without an answer: Why would such a kind and helpful student end his life?
A principal like Joseph Roy hopes to field a staff of teachers who provide keys to knowledge, not scramble to bolt the doors at Roy's shouted command of "lockdown!"
But having faced such a test - when the troubled, 16-year-old arrived at school with an assault rifle in his duffel bag - Springfield students, teachers and school officials, along with township authorities and parents, braved a difficult event well.
When the teen began firing warning shots during a class change, students took cover and were cleared quickly from the halls. Others were locked in classrooms, as they'd drilled to do. Township police arrived in minutes.
In what were tense moments for parents, the district posted online updates every 15 minutes on its Web site. Students were moved to the safety of another building, where they could be reunited with families. E-mail blasts also provided reassurance and condolences from superintendent Roseann Nyiri.
No question, conditions at first were chaotic in school. But it could be said that much went right after one thing went terribly wrong.
That fatal mistake was put in motion by Shane Halligan himself. Eagle Scout, fire company volunteer, "all-American boy," in the words of one parent, Halligan apparently despaired over falling grades. His parents talked of limiting free-time activities until he raised his grades.
Such caring parenting should not have become a life-and-death matter.
But Shane Halligan was able to secretly grab his father's AK-47, smuggle it into school, and shoot himself - with no chance for anyone to talk him safely through his pain.
Why does anyone need such a powerful weapon at home, and how could a teen get his hands on it so easily? Those questions no doubt haunt the Halligan family today.
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