Like many, Hallie Markel (`13) did not know how to respond. “You always hear about school shootings, but when one hits so close to home, you don’t know what to do. You want to help, but you don’t know how.” She felt especially horrible for the parents of the students who perished. “Those parents expected, like every other parent, their kids to come home from school… but they never did.”
Markel, who knows several Chardon High School track runners,reports that students are “scared,” and that the shooting and its implications “hadn’t set in yet.”
Brian Kim (`13) says the tragedy was “paralyzing.” Kim says, “It is horrible that something like this could happen in an environment like a school. Everyone thinks they are safe. It is horrible.”
MSNBC reports that Chardon students are having a difficult time reconciling what happened. “It is going to be very sad,” one student said.
I’m not going to be able to go up to Demetrius or Russell and just say ‘Hi’ anymore.
Several surrounding churches held evening vigils on Tuesday. St. Mary’s was well-attended: as the New Your Times reported, “Hundreds of people packed [the chapel], holding candles, singing, remembering those who died in prayers.” Ohio Governor John Kasich was among those who spoke at the vigil. Danny’s parents, Dina and Bob Parmertor, spoke. “He was 16 years old,” said Mrs. Parmertor. “He doesn’t get to live his life. He didn’t do anything to anybody. He just didn’t deserve it.”
Father John Blazek said, “This is an opportunity for the community to come together in solidarity over horrifying circumstances. God always has a purpose in mind.”
On Thursday, March 1, hundreds of parents and students congregated in Chardon Square before making a symbolic march toward Chardon High School. They placed ribbons and flowers along the way and around the campus. According to the marchers and Fox8.com interviews, they wanted to show that, despite the tragedy, they are “resilient, hopeful, and kind.” The kids “promised never to forget what happened, but to move forward as a way to honor their fallen friends.”
Gilmour students wore red ties and shirts in remembrance of the events. Brother Dan Kane dedicated a piano performance to the shooting victims.
Markel (`13) said, “It’s times like these that people look to their faith and look to each other. You hope it never happens to you or anyone else, but it’s something that draws everyone closer.”
According to Boston.com, hundreds of people “stood shoulder to shoulder” along a street near the Parmertor funeral, holding signs saying, “We Are One Heartbeat.” Nearly all wore red and black clothing – Chardon’s school colors – and waved American flags.
We are One Heartbeat.
Scott Poland, an associate professor in the Center for Psychological Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says, according to an interview with News Net 5, that students exposed to the events of February 27 will psychologically and emotionally recover at different paces. “Sixty percent will be really fine. Twenty percent will have minor problems. Twenty percent will have major problems,” Poland said. Ann Bauer, associate professor and chair of the Department of Counseling Administration, Supervision & Adult learning at Cleveland State University’s College of Education, said parents “need to know that recovery is going to be long-term. There is no short fix.”
Poland, an internationally recognized expert on school violence and youth suicide, said that school administrators need to coordinate an ongoing effort to assist not only children exposed to the shooting, but adults as well. “We need to get teachers talking about how they are feeling, not having someone talking at them. They need to be in small groups, talking with one another, strengthening their bond and having a guided discussion where they are doing the talking. “
Linda Graham, a crisis coordinator for Nettleton Public Schools in Jonesboro, Arkansas, said that faculty must understand that “they have […] experienced a shocking, upsetting event that will take healing and paying attention to, and if you do not, it gets worse instead of getting better.” Good teachers and administrators, Graham said, need to “remember that to be available to kids, they need to be ‘good’ themselves.” Bauer agreed: “It is like the oxygen mask on the airplane. You have to put it on first before you can help the person sitting next to you.”
Ultimately, Baur said, the community of Chardon will have to reconcile with the events of that Monday in February. “They’re going to have to deal with that change in their identity. How are we going to take care of each other, take care of ourselves and get on with what we are doing?”
For children and adults struggling to come to terms with the events of February 27, professional help is suggested, but the American Psychology Association website provides
excellent guiding resources:
1. For parents and children: http://goo.gl/wPKm5
2. For parents: http://goo.gl/fYH4B
The United States Department of Veteran affairs also provides quality links to websites for children and teenagers dealing with trauma: http://goo.gl/HAVrk