The past few weeks have been incredibly difficult for the East High School community. We lost an East student, Luis Garcia, after a horrific act of gun violence near the school, and in the same week, A student was found with a gun on campus. In our own school, we don't feel safe anymore. A place meant to be for learning has turned into a place full of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. Families and staff have to make the difficult decision of whether it's worth staying at a school where events like this are frighteningly common.
Understandably, people are angry. There’s good reason to be. Amid everything the school has had to deal with after the shooting on February 13th, two of the events meant to address gun violence were canceled. DPS is once again ignoring the East community. After all, we've been through this before. Just six months earlier, after the school was swatted, administrators promised to fix the biggest failures of September 19th. During the safety meeting in September, the DPS head of security Michael Eaton said they would try to alert parents to a lockdown within five minutes of it happening. And yet, on the day Luis was shot, information was only sent out by email well after the school was placed on a secure perimeter. Instead of making the effort to implement changes that would’ve improved communication, like was promised, administrators quietly waited for anger and frustrations to die down, all without ever really doing anything.
There is room for improvement in the responses to crises, both by the school and DPS, in communication, helping to return to a state of normalcy, and providing support. But at the end of the day, only so much can be done. Ultimately, it highlights a bigger issue in the country on a broader scale. Gun violence is an issue the United States struggles with at far higher than any other developed nation, with a rate of 4.12 firearm homicides per 100,000 people (see left graph). No matter what you stand for politically, we should all be able to agree that this is a problem that needs to be fixed.
We shouldn't have to accept this. It needs to change. To bring about that change, we need to fight for it. Don't let legislators or DPS administration sit on their hands. The livelihoods of so many students, and so many people are at stake. You have the power to make a change, use it.