School isn’t the same as it was when we were kids. Shocker, right?
Growing up in the 70s and 80s, we had lots of textbooks and relied on pens, notebooks, chalkboards and old-fashioned typewriters. The only electronics we had were Sony Walkmans and hand-held video games. If we were really lucky, we got the table ping-pong game for our TV sets and eventually Atari with games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.
These days, my children, Serina and Sophia, in third and first grades, respectively, are whizzes on the Web. Like their peers, my girls can navigate the latest electronics, whether it’s an iPad, laptop or smart phone. Let’s not forget the most updated X-Box. We have a Wii, which I’m afraid is already outdated.
Serina was seven when I got my Android. “Mom,” she said. “I’m so proud of you for finally getting a touch-screen phone.”
But some changes make a parent pause more profoundly than others.
On the way home from school Wednesday, Sophia announced, “We had a drill today.”
Oh? No big deal, I thought, remembering all the drills we had back in the day. As a kid growing up in Minnesota, winter fire drills were the worst, especially when we couldn’t grab our jackets.
Tornado drills were more tolerable. No matter what time of year, we stayed inside.
“What kind of drill?” I asked.
Serina jumped in, “Intruder drill. It was Code Purple.”
She went on to explain that Code Purple is supposed to prepare students for a situation in which someone who doesn’t belong in the school was, in fact, in the school.
According to my children, students involved in a Code Purple are supposed to hide and duck their heads. They should be very quiet. Serina sat behind a table with her classmates; Sophia hid in a corner with hers. But their young, fresh minds don’t truly grasp the full meaning behind their Code Purple, their intruder drill.
Mine does. It flashes back to December 2012, when one heavily-armed individual stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Before he took his own life, the intruder — who truly didn’t belong inside that building — killed 20 children and a half-dozen adults.
Code purple. Intruder drill. New precautionary concepts designed to protect our sweet, innocent children should they face the most chilling of crimes. A real fear today that hadn’t even entered our minds 30 – 40 years ago.
Could the drill really make a difference if a callous, gun-waving lunatic entered our childrens’ schools?
Let’s hope so. Better yet, let’s all pray that we never have to find out.