There are some stories that you never want to write.
I’ve thought about this a lot the last couple of weeks, and I was reminded again of it Wednesday morning. I was scrolling through news online when I came across a story about students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returning to classes on Wednesday.
The students are returning following the Parkland, Florida shooting on Valentine’s Day. The shooting in Florida claimed the lives of 17 students and faculty, and 14 people were taken to the hospital.
It was one of the world’s deadliest school shootings, and the suspected shooter, Nikolas Jacob Cruz, was arrested by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shortly after the shooting. He was later charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The shooting launched another debate about the use of high-powered rifles and their accessibility and also the treatment of individuals with mental health issues. It sparked debates on both sides of the political spectrum. I’m not here to pick one side or the other because my opinion changes daily.
Last week, an Alabama legislator introduced a bill that would allow qualified school personnel to carry a firearm to help defend students if a school shooting were to happen in Alabama. The bill has drawn a lot of nationwide scrutiny and support, which can be expected.
Back to Florida, though.
Students from the Parkland high school have organized events and marches speaking out in support of gun reform — they’ve met with legislators and President Donald Trump over the past two weeks. They’ve been activists and have logged hours of interviews with TV stations and journalists.
But, on Wednesday, they returned back to school. As classes started at 7:40 a.m., students observed 17 seconds of silence to honor those who had died. They had placed flowers on empty desks where students had sat previously.
I was just reminded again Wednesday morning that these kids are just that— kids. They are teenagers who should be worrying about tests and prom, and not lobbying for gun reform. It’s devastating that they have to.
I’ve spoken to many teachers in the two years I’ve been here. I’m amazed at how passionate they are and how much they care about these students, and for a second Wednesday I thought about all of them, too.
I spend a lot of time covering education in DeKalb County. I love writing those stories. I like seeing all of the cool things our students are learning and I’m excited to see where they go in the future.
But, there are many of those stories I hope I never have to write. I don’t know how long I’ll be in DeKalb County, but it doesn’t matter where I go or where I end up. I don’t ever, ever, for the rest of my life, want to have to cover a mass shooting at a school or anywhere else. I hope my legislators, president —whoever— will do all that they can in hopes we may never have to again.
Bradley Roberts is managing editor of the Times-Journal.