Yesterday morning, August 21, 2008, just before school was to start, fifteen year old Ryan McDonald was shot and killed in his high school's cafeteria. At 8:11 a.m. Jamar Siler, a fifteen year old fellow student at Central High School shot Ryan McDonald in the chest.
Central High School is located in North Knox County in Eastern Tennessee, a community that is still reeling over the recent church shootings approximately three weeks ago.
You can go to WBIR.com and read the timeline of events as they occurred today as well as read more about the case. I want to use this time and place to talk more about my thoughts and feelings in regards to this tragedy.
I am a mother, so as soon as I heard that there was a shooting in of all places, a school, I felt a sense of panic. My son just started kindergarten this year, he wasn't in school on Thursday because he only attended one day this week and starts full time next week, but I could imagine how I would have felt if he were not with me.
I know every parent who had a child in Central High School yesterday must have been beside themselves with worry. It was I know, a very scary day yesterday for thousands of parents, grandparents and other relatives of the approximately 1200 students that were at the school yesterday.
Just as I'm sure is the case anywhere that something like this has happened, people start talking about taking their kids out of public schools and either homeschooling or enrolling them in private schools. I absolutely understand and have had the same feelings and discussions with my husband. However, I have to be logical and realistic.
What I mean is that for one – I will not live in fear or project that fear onto my son. That does not mean I won't teach my son to be cautious. We should all listen to our instincts and be aware of what is going on around us. And another thing is that this could have happened anywhere! As I mentioned above just three weeks ago there was a shooting inside a church. And you hear of people being killed in their own homes, shopping malls and various other public places all the time.
So does this mean I just keep myself and my family locked up in our home away from the world? No. I can't or won't do that. I just have to hope and pray that my son will be safe when he is away from me.
That being said, I want our schools to be safer! I want to know that my son's school is doing EVERYTHING humanly possible to protect him and keep him safe. I do feel confident that my son's elementary school does take all the precautions to do just that.
My husband and I discussed homeschooling our son; and decided for our son, at this time, it would be better for him to have the social aspect of school. And we already agreed that when he enters middle school we will re-evaluate this decision. If at anytime we are not satisfied with our child's education or have concerns regarding his safety we will pull him out and home school.
Before leaving I want to say one other thing about Knoxville. It seems we have had a lot of press/media lately; with the church and now school shooting. But I want people to know that this is a community of faith-based people. A community that cares and will be the first to step up and help others in need. We have suffered some senseless tragedies lately but we will over come it and come out stronger.
My thoughts and prayers are with Ryan McDonald's family, the students and faculty of Central High School and their families.