Dear Fellow US High School Students (tw: school shootings),
All over my local news and national news this past few days has been a shooting at a high school in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Oshkosh West HS. My high school. The thing is, it wasn’t a full-blown shooting like columbine or parkland. A student walked into the student resource officer’s office, stabbing him multiple times until the officer pulled out his gun, shooting the student. It may not seem like that big of a deal from the outside.
I was in a room just a short walk away. About a full hallway I would say. It took me until today, 3 days since the event, to really remember some of the details before I ran out of the building. I remember a bang, yelling, and running. Teens running from the surrounding classrooms outside, and my teacher said, “are they just messing around?” People kept running, my teacher told us to get under desks, after realizing it was serious, and after what felt like only a few seconds, told us to run.
I grabbed my keys and my phone, I was nearing a panic attack already. Everyone was running and one teacher was standing, pointing everyone towards the door. Everything felt rushed and panicked. We had no idea what was happening.
Sprinting outside, not even really registering what was happening, not really noticing that I was running, I slipped and fell on some ice. Even in the waves of panicked students, a few stopped to ask me if I was alright.
Everyone was running across the street to the mosque which, I later found out, was unlocked by a friend of mine for over 100 students. Getting to the top of the mosque’s steps, I turned around, realizing I couldn’t find my best friend, who I swore was by my side when I left. Out of breath, I whispered his name as students pushed past me, until I gave up and was pushed inside, tears rolling down my cheeks.
A minute or so later, he pulled me into a bone-crushing hug and I couldn’t have been more relieved. I pulled out my phone, wet with snow from my fall, and called my mom, whom I had texted while under a classroom table: “something is happening.” On the phone, she told me to calm down while getting into her car since she was thankfully off of work that day.
In the mosque, while I had calmed down a little, I didn’t know what had happened to my friends, whether they were okay, and what was actually going on. I cried while hugging my best friend, worrying about my little sister, my girlfriend, and my other friends.
Eventually I had gotten in touch with friends who were either still in the school, safe, or who had run to the local middle school, about 0.5 miles away. Everything was a blur. Soon we left the mosque, heading to the local middle school on a small bus. My mom met me when I got off, crying into my shoulder, but still unable to take me home.
Hundreds of high schoolers, crammed in a small, middle school gym for 2-3 hours as a long line of parents waited. While I just wanted to go home and sleep, I found my friends and I knew my little sister was fine, and that was all that really mattered.
In the gym, people were crying, hugging, and talking about what had happened. It turned out that the student who had stabbed the officer had posted on Snapchat at 1:50 am, stating, “today’s the day.” From what we know, he had only planned to kill the officer, but who knows what would have happened if he had gotten a hold of his gun.
I just want to say, that while I mostly wrote this out for myself, to get all of my feelings out after the first day back at school since, please please please, if you hear or see something, say something. If just one person had reported the Snapchat story, this may not have happened. The student could have been stopped and received the help he needed before committing a crime that will land him in jail/prison for quite a while. The rest of the school could have been saved from this traumatic experience.
I know my experience may not be as terrible as those who have survived full-blown shootings, and I can’t imagine and I don’t want to, but this is terrible enough for me to realize the importance of speaking up. Thank you to those who have read this far and please, speak up when you hear or see a threat because even if it’s a joke, you can’t risk to take the chance.