My oldest son asked what happened at Muscatine High School last week. That was a gut check for my wife and me. Nothing can fully prepare you as a parent for having a conversation with a seven-year-old about a shooting threat made to the high school. In addition to that, we also had to try to (carefully) explain to him about the student that was assaulted in the hallway.
I’ll unpack the shooting threat first. I was a sophomore at Oak Park and River Forest High School when Columbine happened. The following day, a threat was called into my high school and I stayed home. Twenty years later, the reality of having to try and explain what happened in Muscatine to my son without scaring him was heartbreaking. The sheer number of school shootings in the past twenty years is quite frankly unacceptable. Even though last week’s threat was deemed a hoax here in Muscatine, it will have a lasting impact. I believe educating our children without instilling fear is paramount. They should not wake up and be afraid of going to school to learn.
The same could be said for our educators. Imagine dedicating your life to teaching and having the “what if” thought in the back of your mind every single day. The same teachers who are responsible for teaching our children are also responsible for keeping them safe in their classrooms. In 2019, not only do they have to be well equipped to educate but also be prepared to lockdown their room if need be. That’s a tough position to be in, to say the least.
The situation involving the student at Muscatine High School that was attacked, on video was also difficult to talk about to our son. My brother in-law, whom many of you know, Nolan, has autism and has been part of my children’s lives since they were born. We’ve raised our children to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and to be patient. I’ve also tried to instill in my oldest son that if you see something, say something and to take action if possible to help those in need.
I don’t want my community, Muscatine, to have to live in that constant fear. Don’t you sometimes feel like Muscatine is our own Mayberry, a safe place where you can leave your doors unlocked and don’t have to worry about the threat of violence? The reality is, things like this take place in towns across the country. With that being said, Muscatine also has a lot of good things going on and people making an effort every single day. Just look at this past weekend and the events that took place. We had the Amy Meyer Bike Ride Fundraiser, Jessica Peine Memorial Ride, and Music Festival Fundraiser, Second Saturday, and the third Annual Swamp Stomp, just to name a few.
I’m going to continue to be a cheerleader for Muscatine. I truly love this community and I also know that the amount of people pushing it forward in a positive direction will let nothing stop them. I just hope to have a bit of a break between serious conversations with my son. It’s much easier to explain to him why I’m frustrated with the Chicago Bears!