This morning I parked my car and began to walk to my classroom at school. I noticed the kids who were playing on the basketball court suddenly begin scurrying inside. This was unusual as the bell hadn't rung. I quickened my pace to get to our classroom and was greeted by the sound of the bolt of the door being locked. The windows were being covered with dark paper. I yelled inside to Heidi to let her know it was me and she quickly opened the door but bolted it behind me. I entered a very dark classroom and dropped my bags, unsure of what was happening.
I quickly found out. We were in lockdown and ...it wasn't a drill.
We'd practiced for events like this, just in case. The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has been heavy on our minds this week. A chill went through my body as I discovered several children cowering closely together behind our cubbies in the corner. I immediately grabbed the smallest child and held her close on my lap as we sat on the floor.
We didn't know anything except that this was not a drill. The unknown can be very frightening. But Heidi and I remained calm so the children would remain calm.
But I silently began to pray as I held little Natalie.
We played a game of 'telephone' in very low whispers to keep the children occupied and distracted. Two of the children had been walking by our classroom when the lockdown was announced so they quickly came inside. They were in first and second grade so were older than our kids. They were aware of the events that occurred last week in Connecticut. But they did very well by keeping calm for the younger ones.
Thoughts went through my mind. What would I do if a gunman came barreling through that door? I knew covering those kids would be my first concern. I think my nurses' training came in handy. I was always able to keep very calm in the midst of a critical situation. It was only afterwards ...
We were in lockdown for about 40 minutes although it seemed much longer. We were finally told we could come out and return to our normal classroom activities. But that was easier said than done. Everyone was shaken.
These events happened during the time when parents normally dropped their children off at school. They had been diverted away from the school by police due to the lockdown. As they slowly returned to the school, everyone seemed shaken. A few tears were shed and many hugs given to one another. Our classrooms remained half empty as many didn't return for the day. It was our last day before the two week break for the holidays.
Later we learned that a man in a long coat carrying a firearm had been spotted on the campus of a nearby school. A worker had reported this to the police before the children arrived. The school was locked down as they searched for the man but he wasn't found. Our school was locked down as a precaution, along with several other schools in the area.
It's sad when we have to be concerned about school shootings. Sending children to school shouldn't be scary. But unfortunately our society has changed over the years.
How thankful I was to God that in this case, everyone was safe. But I continue to pray for our country.