I still remember high school....its only been 20 years ago :) I remember a lot of stuff about high school: parties, dances, tornado drills, earthquake drills, a "blizzard" (forcing my parents to come get me from school). I even remember some enthusiastic Chemistry students setting off an aluminum foil bomb in a trash can near the gym.
The one thing I don't remember is anyone threatening us while we were at school. Nobody walked into the bus garage one spring day and threatened the students. Nobody called the school one fall afternoon and said a bomb was set to explode at 2 p.m.
My parents never had to get that phone call, that I was on lock down, that I couldn't leave. My dad never waited outside the high school with a bunch of other fathers to get me out of school. My mother never went to St. Thomas and encountered all of Wade Township's fire department protecting the students in the Parish center.
I realize that I've had a bad day. My family lost one of the best today. I will always love and miss you Corky, always. I am hoping that his loss is one of the reasons I cried when I encountered Newton's finest fire department at a school as I went to pick up my son. I drove down that road and cried. I knew my son was safe. I knew that he wasn't in harm. But as a mother, something inside of you breaks when you see all those firefighters protecting that school. (Honestly I don't know if they were protecting or crowd control, but either way....)
Jasper County school district obviously had a plan for such a thing. I don't know how you come up with such a plan. The logistics involved in gathering buses and drivers and moving - 500???? - students from one school to another in the quickest way possible. As far as I can tell, the plan went off without a hitch. I walked up to the Parish center and got my son. Signed a piece of paper saying that he was mine and took him home. And cried when we got back here. I cried for the loss of a good man today. I cried for the loss of innocence that keeps these kids from feeling safe in their own schools. I cried because a mother should never have to hear the "there has been an incident at your student's school" reverse 911 call. Twice in 6 months. In a small community. In my hometown.
A big thank you to the Wade Township Fire Department, Jasper County Ambulance service, Newton City Police, Jasper County Sheriff's Department and IL State Police, the teachers and staff at JCJH and NCHS and the bus drivers and bus garage staff for doing everything possible to keep those kids safe. Thank you to Oblong Fire Department that came over to sit at our fire station so Wade Township could stay at the school. Thank you God for keeping our children safe.