Remember Chardon

March 1st, 2012

On Monday morning – just like any other morning – I sleepily shut off my alarm clock, climbed down from my bunk bed and grabbed a quick shower before the cleaning crew arrived to kick me out. I pulled on my clothes and opened my computer to scan the Web for the morning’s news.

When I logged on to Facebook, a friend’s status caught my eye: “Holy crap, Chardon High’s had a shooting??!! I sincerely hope everyone is OK!!”

I’m not from the greater Cleveland area but I had heard of Chardon. I didn’t realize how close it was – just 42 minutes from the JCU campus to the high school.

An image I’ll always remember was walking into the student center atrium, where three or four administrators stood with their with their eyes glued to the TV, the news coverage flashing the latest updates from Chardon across the screen.

I was stunned. How could this type of senselessness be happening again? Weren’t precautions taken to make sure school shootings were a thing of the past?

Actually, drills were in place at Chardon High School, just as they are in many other schools across the country. And students and staff seemed to be well practiced in the event something like this happened.

The most common theme I found in the news coverage and in the people I talked to for the story I wrote (check the front page) is that they never expected something like this to happen in Chardon. “Chardon is widely recognized as the center of Ohio’s maple syrup industry, as well as the center of the state’s snow belt,” the city’s website reads. The town square features, among other things, “charming retail shops, a public library and a variety of eateries all within the relaxed setting of an historic walking district.”

But all that peacefulness got turned on its head this week. As of Tuesday night, three families are mourning the losses of their loved ones.

Here at John Carroll, a prayer service was held in remembrance of the victims and their families. For me, it was a powerful moment where prayer seemed like absolutely the right option.

Life offers us teaching moments at every turn. This tragedy offers important lessons.

First, schools must continue to practice safety drills in the event that something like this happens, and students need to take them seriously. That old Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” resonates loud and clear in these instances. Don’t worry about possibilities, just be aware of what to do if a situation arises.

Some students have reported that the teenager who admitted firing the shots was bullied, while others have disputed that fact. Whatever the case might be, schools need to make a conscious effort to eradicate bullying. That kind of behavior has no place, anywhere.

The Plain Dealer is reporting the parents of the alleged shooter have been arrested numerous times for domestic violence crimes. Troubles in the family poorly socialized the alleged shooter to the world around him, possibly even contributing to his outburst on Monday. Does this excuse his behavior? Not at all, but it does show the importance of good parenting. Many of us hope to take on the role of a parent later on in our lives, and the more love and support we can show our kids, the better individuals they can become.

If, for some reason, you see suspicious behavior on this campus, speak up. Call CSS, tell an administrator or find your resident assistant.

I pray that all involved in this tragedy can find some type of comfort and peace in all the chaos. As the Chardon schools superintendent told the media that Monday, “[Parents] hug your kids, kids hug your parents.”

That’s one moment that, to me, makes sense.