Trenchcoats & Gunpowder

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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45 Responses

  1. I recently (within the last year?) read a memoir by the mother of one of the Columbine shooters. As such things go, I found it very thought provoking. As I recall, she doesn’t blame bullying and doesn’t minimize her son’s role in the matter.

    On a personal level, my niece went to the other high school in that area. When I heard of the shooting, I wasn’t sure if he was a Columbine student or not, but was/am glad she was at a different school. Some neighbors of my parents, however, had a couple grandchildren there. They weren’t physically harmed, but at least one had a lot of psychological trauma. Apparently he had actually been shot at. The other one was locked in some closet with some fellow students until a janitor came, opened the door, and told them to run for their lives.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      We should probably change our approach to post-trauma counseling, but I have no idea how. Three’s so much variance in how people perceive threats in a given situation, as well as how they process it over the following years.Report

      • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Pinky says:

        I don’t, either. Knowing that family, they probably balked at the idea of counseling, at least at first. (I’m making some assumptions based on how well I know them, which is fairly well, but not super well.)

        I actually don’t know what kind of counseling the school offered afterward.Report

    • What kicked this post off was (I think) actually reading a response to that, written by a teacher who felt she had been inaccurately portrayed.Report

      • That’s interesting. My sense from reading the book was that the author went out of her way to empathize with the victims and the teachers. But that could just be me not remembering the book right. At any rate, it’s not my place to tell that teacher she’s wrong.Report

  2. fillyjonk says:

    “My friend and I have commented how fortunate it is that he wrote the story when he did, because if he’d written it later it could have destroyed his life.”

    Yes. I think of some of the stories both my brother and I wrote in school; had we been doing it 20 years later we would have, at the very least, gotten a “referral.”

    The one that hit me hard, first, was Virginia Tech. Because a colleague lost a cousin, but also, because it was so very much in the news – and I think the first college-campus shooting? And the one with the biology professor who killed several of her colleagues when denied tenure hit home as well, as I am in a biology department.

    And there is a bit of the old “but for the grace of God, there go I” thought about all those things. No, not as the perp but the sense of….you never know with other people’s anger.

    I have had very very angry students. One yelling at me as he blocked my office door. Another storming out of class when I refused to let him do something that was against the rules. We do “active incident” training most years and it feels very futile; there is no funding (apparently) or no will to make some changes to the classrooms that could keep us safer. I get that they are rare, but…like I said, it feels futile and traumatizing to make us sit through an hour or so of lecture about it, and then have a colleague bring up “but we can’t lock our classroom doors from the inside” and be told “Hm, well, maybe we should look into that” but it never IS.

    I suspect it won’t be until there’s an incident, if there ever is one. If there is one, I pray it’s minor and no one is killed.Report

    • “I think the first college-campus shooting?”

      Texas sharpshooter. When I worked at UT, I could see the tower from my office and how the whole city must have been like fish in a barrel for him.Report

    • Dead Agent in reply to fillyjonk says:

      This drives me crazy. Door retrofits can’t be that expensive, can they? Gotta be cheaper than the pointless, traumatizing “active shooter drills” they waste money on annually.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Dead Agent says:

        Bulletproof doors only work when they’re closed, and if you don’t know what gunshots sound like and have a drilled response you’re not going to close them.

        I had classes in the rooms at Virginia Tech where all those people got shot, and I sometimes wonder what I’d do if suddenly I heard gunfire next door. I doubt I’d even recognize it at first. Fifty-fifty I’d come up with the right answer flat-footed (close the door, shove the desk against it, then get everyone against the wall on the hallway side and hope he doesn’t think to shoot through the bricks).

        The point of an active shooter drill is to have *A* response. Even if I’d just charged the door with some vague notion of tackling the guy, it would have been better than just sitting at my desk wondering what was going on.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

          A lot of times, the problems with Active Shooter Drills is that they aren’t drilling a response for school faculty and staff, but rather giving local police a chance to play SWAT while scaring the piss out of everyone else.Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    I wonder how much of it is a reflection of the changing mores on how we raise kids and teach emotional intelligence, where we have powerful generational disconnects over how such things are thought of, coupled to highly imperfect ways of teaching emotional intelligence.Report

  4. pillsy says:

    If I remember right, I’m pretty much the same age as Will, and graduated high school a couple years before the Columbine kids did their thing. It’s a good thing, too, because I went in for a lot of the same aesthetics that they did. Dressed all in black, had the Docs, even had the trench coat.[1]

    Shit, I still dress all in black and have the Docs.

    Industrial music and violent video games were also high on the list of things I was enthusiastic about back in that liminal phase between being a kid and not being a kid anymore. Heck, who am I kidding I still love those things now.

    It was all really harmless, though. Like at the time, even, as a kid I felt like these things were actually kid’s stuff. It was a game and an aesthetic and we were just play-acting. Maybe trying to look scary but nobody was fooled and we knew it. I had that same slightly embarrassed feeling that you had when you realize you’re still really enthusiastic about Star Wars while your friends have moved on to listening to Guns n’ Roses.

    I think maybe the obvious falseness of the edge is part of what appealed. I’d been a bit bullied and picked on when I was younger, but by the time I was 15 or 16 it was over, but I still wanted to find people who I knew were safe. There was ordinary suburban high school kid trouble but that was it.[2]

    And yeah, I did the, “Let’s talk about shooting up the school!” thing too. Never wrote it down. I hated writing. But it wasn’t even about anger. It was just something to do when you were board with your buddies.

    I really don’t know where I’m going with this except to say that Will’s piece sparked something and I started going down the nostalgia road. And I’ve always had a weird sense of mystified betrayal over what the Columbine murderers did.

    How did they miss how safe the stuff we were doing was supposed to be?

    And how dare they fuck it up for weird, goofy kids who like dark and edgy stuff because maybe they want to not seem so goofy but end up just being goofy in a different way?

    I was safe by then. In college. Easy enough to tweak my wardrobe and TBH that trench coat looked dumb.

    But I can’t help but worry about the kids like me who were a few years younger.

    Great piece, Will. Thanks for writing it.

    [1] I kept up with this through college. When I went to my first lecture after the shooting broke (second semester real analysis) I got really weird looks from both the prof and the other students. I’d had the good sense to leave the trench coat at home that day but it was still odd. Doubly odd since the class was tiny and we all knew each other much better than you might expect for a college class.

    [2] You know, maybe some beer. A bit of weed. Cigarettes. Playing with explosives.
    Yeah. A lot of people did that too. Like not to hurt anybody just to make a loud noise and see stuff go boom.Report

  5. Mike Dwyer says:

    I tend to think of many of these mass shootings as on the same mental spectrum as suicide (and obviously many of them have that as their ultimate goal.) People slide into depression and periods of rage with unexpected suddenness. My stepmother passed away in April of 1996 and a month later my father committed suicide because he was completely overwhelmed by the depth of his despair over her death. I have known people that went through periods of rage related to whatever was going on in their life and i have no doubt they were fantasizing about killing the object(s) of their anger. I think most of us have allowed that idea to at least pass through our heads for a fleeting moment a time or two.

    Every time one of these shootings occurs we want to make sense of it and prevent the next one so we spend a lot of time looking for signs that it was going to happen. Not with Columbine but again, so many of these happen with no warnings. A good number of the other suicides I have been adjacent to in my life (I could probably name at least 10 relatives of friends that have killed themselves) have almost all been without real warning, That’s what makes these just so hard for us to wrap our heads around.

    * On a dark humor side note, my mother was a mail sorter for all of my childhood. She actually really liked the job but whenever she was mad at us back then it was, “Oh no, mom’s going postal !” She obviously didn’t think it was as funny as we did, but when you are 12 it doesn’t take much to get you going.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      One of the killers at Columbine was, by multiple accounts, extremely depressed and suicidal.

      The other seems to have been just, well, evil. That seems to be the most appropriate word for someone who commits mass murder for fun and notoriety.

      There are other similarities, though. These shootings, like suicides, seem to have a media contagion effect, where intense coverage can inspire copy cats. I bang this drum from time to time, and on top of that I just think a lot of the wall-to-wall coverage that accompanies these atrocities is ultimately just us making ourselves miserable because we can’t look away, and we have a media industry that is bound to keep showing us something as long as we’ll look at it.

      And one thing that I think is probably well-known around these parts, and that Will briefly touched on, is that the original story everybody got into their heads about the Columbine shooters was more or less completely wrong. I saw (IMO very well-done) a video about the false narratives about the shooting a few hours after reading Will’s post. The corrections were things I’d mostly internalized—the shooters weren’t bullied, weren’t motivated be resentment or white supremacism or anything else really comprehensible, were pretty popular, et c.—but the point she raised that I hadn’t really though of was that Columbine inspired other shooters, some of whom may have had those motives and seized onto a mass shooting as the way to express them.

      Which is a disturbing thought in and of itself.

      But at least is disturbing is what if it sent all of us down the wrong path in how we think of them, looking for solutions to a media-created mirage of a tragedy instead of a real tragedy that actually happened.Report

      • Gabriel Conroy in reply to pillsy says:

        I don’t know the solution to the media problem, even though I agree with you it’s a problem. (And that’s one reason I try not to name shooters in these comments.)

        At the same time, I don’t think the media shouldn’t cover these things extensively and I also think there’s a time and a place to name the shooters, even though it will have the effect you name.

        The false narratives thing: yeah, I gotta agree on that. And that’s also partly media driven, or media-reported-stories-driven. It seems almost inevitable. A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a reporter about some aspect of my job. The article was a fluff piece, human interest story thing about “what’s going in Big City.” But still, he got quite a lot wrong. It wasn’t “bad” wrong. I was misquoted, but in a way that made me come off sounding better than I do. And I can’t blame the reporter for not knowing all the specialist info I had told him. But still….if this reporter, who as far as I can tell has a good conscience and does his job well, makes those types of mistakes on a low-stakes piece of writing, then what happens when the stakes are much higher? (One answer might be: if the stakes are higher, a conscientious reporter will do more work to make sure the story is right. But even so, I suspect a lot creeps in.)Report

        • InMD in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

          I agree that the media wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t cover these events but I’m curious if you could spell out why you think the coverage needs to be ‘extensive.’

          To give some perspective, about 3 weeks ago 7 people were shot in a roughly 3 hour span in Baltimore. IIRC 4 of them were at a playground. That story didn’t even make it 15-20 miles south to the DC media market as best as I can tell. The only reason I even heard about it is because I happened to be visiting a relative up that way and the news was on. It’s almost banal to note that there will be far more homicides/multiple-victim shooting incidents this year in a few urban areas with aggregate body counts far higher than the 13 dead at Columbine. And yet almost none of those incidents will even crack into the national news cycle much less be on the front pages of newspapers 1,000 miles away, discussed ad nauseam on cable news, on the cover of Time magazine, etc.

          I don’t say that to diminish the horror or tragedy of it but just to illustrate that there is an editorial decision being made about the relative newsworthiness of events like Columbine vs other homicides. Maybe it’s subconscious but I do think there’s an agenda, or a worldview underlying it, and I’m not sure I think it’s a good one. The combination of hyper focus and saturation coverage, even when events are described accurately propagate all kinds of confusion and misperception.Report

          • Gabriel Conroy in reply to InMD says:

            That’s a good question and I don’t really have an answer. In fact, it should make me reconsider what I just said. The mass shootings at a school just seem different. Of course, your point could be made for Big City, where at least a few people seem to be killed every week, with very, very little news coverage.

            In short, I guess I’ll need to rethink this.Report

            • InMD in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

              To be totally fair and transparent it feels different to me too, and I think it probably feels different to a lot of people. At least with the suburban school shootings I have this sneaking feeling that what bothers people deep down isn’t that it happened it’s that it happened somewhere it wasn’t supposed to. That of course implies there are places where this is supposed to happen. Pulling that string gets to some really unsettling places.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to InMD says:

                Well schools have this loco parentis thing going on; they’re sort of a second home for the kiddos. It’s a bit like a home invasion, a violation of a presumably safe space. A shooting at a church is similar in that regard. It’s different from someplace like Walmart or out on the street.Report

              • InMD in reply to Road Scholar says:

                Eh I don’t buy that. Maybe I’m crazy but I can definitively say school has never once felt like home to me, I don’t think it should feel like home to anyone, and I will affirmatively discourage my son and any future progeny from ever mistaking school for home.

                I see a lot more going on with class and race.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      The sad part is that in a lot of cases, we did know. We did know that these people were bad and wrong and dangerous, we did know that they shouldn’t be one key-turn away from holding guns, we did know that they needed to be locked up for a while.

      But we, as a society, and maybe with good reason, don’t just go around grabbing people off the street and sticking them in mental institutions for being scary and weird.

      I can’t think of a good answer for that. Maybe it starts with spending money coming up with a reasonable alternative to firearms for self-defense that addresses people’s concerns with existing technology.Report

  6. Likewise, the Las Vegas shooting. We have no clue why and probably never will.Report

    • And it’s probably madness for us to try to figure out. But I know I fall into that trap, of trying to understand why someone would do something that seems unthinkable to me. (The whole thing with the biology prof who killed several of her colleagues, for example).

      though I suppose it’s a good thing that my reaction is “I can literally think of no situations where I would consider doing that to be a good idea”Report

      • Aaron David in reply to fillyjonk says:

        I don’t think it is madness. I would put it in the bucket of trying to make sense of a confusing and frustrating world.Report

        • George Turner in reply to Aaron David says:

          There might be something freaky still lurking in some people’s brains because there is a potential evolutionary advantage in tribal warfare to producing berserkers or psychos who will wipe out an enemy village like a smart bomb, even if they don’t survive it.

          Primitive warfare tends to involve taking prisoners and captives, so people end up in the enemy camp. The question is how much gory damage a plotting prisoner can inflict when they strike unexpectedly, before they’re brought down by all the village’s warriors responding to the alarm.

          There were some elements of this in some Indian tribes in the US Southwest, where a warrior who got surrounded would put on a spectacle of fighting everyone to the death until they killed him, as kind of a ritual thing that proved his worth.

          So if something like that is behind the gleeful plotting of mass murder of unsuspecting people, one of the triggers would be if the perp is processing everyone as enemies, as if he felt like he was behind enemy lines on a suicide mission, trying to figure out how to maximize the damage on people he both despises and can’t really relate to, plus probably some other fundamental mental issues like having no regard for human life.

          It would be quite different from a serial killer who has some gnawing need to act out some kind of fantasy, or who can’t resist some kind of twisted recurring desire to harm a person, as opposed to going nuts and taking everyone down with him in an exhilarating spree, or just methodically moving from one unsuspecting random victim to the next, which isn’t that uncommon.

          There was a Brit who was shooting drivers that way. There was a South Korean cop who just went up a valley, knocking on each door, and shooting the occupants dead, and I heard about someone in North Carolina who shot a driver, and then shot each new driver in turn as they pulled up into the line of stalled vehicles.

          That sounds more like someone snapped and is fighting a thousand year old war that doesn’t have any rules except wiping a feared enemy people off the face of the Earth, which in theory is supposedly protecting ones own kind.

          We can surmise that we have such a set of mental circuitry because we watch movies like “John Wick” that amount to “Wipe out all your enemies without mercy or remorse,” or we go watch Luke blow up a Death Star. Somewhere way upstream of that there’s supposed to be circuitry keeping it in check and making sure not to inappropriately go beserk, and identifying friend and foe, and military from civilian, etc, etc. I think that’s the part that’s screwing up.

          Or take the example of the many incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan where one of our “allies” decided to shoot all the Americans while they’re having breakfast. There’s nothing mentally wrong with them, and we’re training them to do just that, but to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. They just develop a different opinion on friend and foe, realize they’re in a target rich environment and have their enemy unawares, and they do the needful.

          We don’t psychoanalyze them to figure out what made them a murderer, we try to get better at weeding out the ones who think of us as an invading enemy who must be fought without mercy. If one of our soldiers mistakenly found himself in a Taliban camp through a case of mistaken identity, he might plot and scheme and then do the same to them.

          So I’m suggesting that some of these mass killers are mentally kicking in to a similar war behind the lines mode, and once those mental gears have shifted they’re just worrying about weapons, tactics, and logistics as if we’re all just enemy targets in a video game.

          So my question is why they kicked into that mode. Why are they acting like they’re at war and behind the lines when there’s obviously no fighting going on anywhere? Why aren’t they processing us as friendlies, even while interacting with us daily (which is abnormal even for combat soldiers in brutal conditions)? Why can they commit to a course of violent action with virtually no outside command structure, other than that many criminals require no outside motivation?

          Perhaps they just have the thought of vengeance for some slight, and get sucked into the fantasy of it, and it starts rewiring their brain because they like the rewards from imagining sweet revenge and making their personal enemies suffer and die, like something that flashes through our brains when we get cut off in traffic, and it just consumes them so much that they start processing things from an entirely different and violent perspective.

          And yet many maintain perfectly normal interactions with everyone around them, even more so than ISIS sleeper agents.Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    Talking to a co-worker about this and that and the other thing, we found out that he was a Senior in high school at Columbine in 1999. And, yes, in the circle of Eric and Dylan. Like, not *BEST* friends, friends, but he had classes with them (he mentioned being in bowling class with one of them first period of the day) and they’d sometimes all drive to lunch together.

    We kind of grilled him about it and he was reticent about it but he talked about how surreal it all was.

    I looked him up and, yeah, he’s got an imdb credit for one of the documentaries and everything.

    The main takeaway from what he told us wasn’t the little details like what they were like (e.g., apparently Eric and Dylan did listen to Marilyn Manson, but that wasn’t their favorite group or anything. It was just one of the bands they listened to) but how he hadn’t gone to school that day and how, if he had, he thought that he’d be one of the kids that they didn’t shoot.

    But he didn’t know.Report

  8. Michael Cain says:

    I’m a geezer and was in high school a long time ago, but my eldest kid graduated three years after Columbine. One of the things that I think has changed between my day and now is that far more kids have far more time on their hands. It seems to be much harder to get kids involved in school activities these days unless you plan years ahead. Everything seems to be competitive, and there’s no space for someone who didn’t start well before high school.Report

  9. George Turner says:

    In my work with high school kids who are studying robotics and such, I’ve encountered a few troublesome kids who just weren’t right. One was disturbingly odd about how he interacted, had the stereotypical “crazy look”, was disconnected from normal things, and obsessed with weird super villain weapons. He was 17 or so and still working on his Deadpool costume. All the other kids who’d grown up with him, including the girls, would matter-of-factly say things like “If you ever hear on the radio that we’ve had a school shooting, it was him. I just hope not to die.”Report

  10. InMD says:

    A few not necessarily connected thoughts:

    1. I think all adolescents not only need an outlet but ultimately find one. No hard and fast rules on this but for young men I think there is almost always some exploration of violence in the process. Not everyone takes it out out on the football or lacrosse field and you get stories like the one OP’s friend wrote. It seems wrong to say its normal but I actually really think it is.

    2. I find the attempts at profiling through interests to be idiotic. Our society is overrun with depictions of violence in art and entertainment. Anyone reading this can turn on their TV right now and find a movie or show with glorified and highly stylized acts of violence. It’s really pernicious but IMO also unrelated to actual murders. Too many people are exposed to it all the time with virtually none of them actually or attempt to do something murderous.

    3. I was in high school when Columbine occurred and I distinctly remember a string of evacuations for bomb threats immediately after the incident, including the beginning of the next school year. I have often wondered if these threats were being made because of Columbine (i.e. people knew they could get a reaction) or if the school was now responding to threats that would not previously been taken seriously. Maybe it was both.

    4. Growing up in an area where the DC and Baltimore media markets overlap has always made the mass shooting media events seem strangely… contrived to me. DC and its rougher suburbs are much better now than they used to be (can’t really say the same for ol’ B’more) but violence was on the news every night, including sometimes in schools. Dissecting why Columbine or something like it gets the attention it does while more routine violence, including murders, doesn’t raises a lot of uncomfortable questions. It says a lot about who we value, and also how truly weird and arbitrary our discourse and media environment can be.Report

    • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

      It seems wrong to say its normal but I actually really think it is.

      FWIW it doesn’t seem wrong at all to me.

      Violent entertainment is very common, and not just in our particular cultural moment (or the one 20 years ago). So is the adolescent practice of trying their hands at new things and not really getting it exactly right.

      Combine the two and you’re likely to get a story like “The Shooter”.Report

  11. I think one of the things that’s going on is a form of social contagion. We know that some of the post-Columbine shooters have idolized the shooters, patterned their attacks on theirs and wanted to outdo them. I don’t know how you address that at all.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Michael Siegel says:

      Well, you could go with absolutely derisive reporting, but it wouldn’t sound objective.

      “The shooter, a small pee pee weakling oxygen thief from the shallow end of the gene pool, never had a chance with women, was a disappointment to all who met him, scored highly on the stupid spectrum, and yesterday showed what an utter waste of skin he was by…”Report

  12. Like I wrote about before literally every guy I knew of including my husband had a school shooting or murder spree fantasy story they wrote in high school. It was a thing then, for a variety of reasons.

    Great piece, as always, Will.Report

  13. Mike Dwyer says:

    Regarding school ‘inclusiveness’…

    The prep school I attended is obviously an outlier because it’s private and that creates a certain bond among the students. With that said, the best thing they have done to increase student involvement since I was there was to create a house system where the kids are randomly assigned to one of 10 houses their freshman year. They stay with that house all four years and their siblings are automatically assigned to the same house unless the parents request a different one (sometimes older siblings cast long shadows). The house system drives everything else:

    – Student government essentially increased by a factor of 10. Each house has their student leadership and they send representatives to the school-wide student council. This gives a lot more kids a chance to participate.

    – Robust intramural competition between the houses. Chance for kids to play organized sports, with real stakes (wins add points to the houses). Also creates more athletic opportunities. They have at least 3 intramural seasons each year (I believe it’s volleyball, basketball and softball).

    – Academic competitions between the houses. Video game competitions between the houses. Winners also contribute points so the non-athletic kids still have ways to contribute.

    – Mentoring of the younger kids by the older kids in their houses. One story I heard was of a nerdy freshman being picked on a bit and a big senior football player coming to his aid in the hallway. That senior was in his house and they take house loyalty very seriously. The comment I heard from the faculty adviser was that, “his experience at the school will be radically different than it was for us because he knows he has someone looking out for him”.

    Beyond the house system there is just a general sense of school pride. This is something you almost never see in public schools and I don’t know how you could manufacture it, but it would help. I have very fond memories of high school and I’m still very involved with the school because of that.

    I would also add that even if kids don’t play sports, clubs were a great way for me to make new friends when I was a freshman. We had several good ones and there are a lot more now.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      “The comment I heard from the faculty adviser was that, “his experience at the school will be radically different than it was for us because he knows he has someone looking out for him”.”

      And I think this is an incredibly important thing, because my experience of the Adults In The Room during grade school was that the only thing they cared about was physical fighting, and if they saw it then everyone involved was In Trouble, and up to that they didn’t give two shits. That idea that Nobody With Authority Is On Your Side did a lot to twist people.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

        This. I remember getting the crap kicked out of me on the bus when I was 6 or 7, and no one did anything (because the bullies were smart enough to wait until the bus was full, and then sit next to me and go for the gut shots, so the driver couldn’t see). I literally had to break down into tears in the school counselors office before anyone did anything, despite the fact that my mom had been complaining to the school for weeks.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to DensityDuck says:

        I have written about this before but because I attended an all-male school it was a very physical environment. Constant jockeying between everyone and lots of roughhousing. My Boy Scout troop was very similar and I was probably in the top 20% of my class in terms of physical size, so I enjoyed the experience, but I was also sympathetic to the smaller kids that didn’t think it was fun.

        The house system at my alma mater has kind of flipped this dynamic on its head by creating an environment where the kids are just as headstrong but they sort of focus that energy towards complete devotion towards their houses. Turning a kid that could have been a bully into a defender of his ‘weaker’ housemates is a powerful thing. Again, I’m not sure if this is possible in a public school, but it’s at least one example of doing things differently.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          I’ve heard of other schools/systems doing similar things (Japan, IIRC, works very hard to instill school pride by having kids take care of the facilities (to a point) and by mentoring the younger kids). Even my sons school is doing something similar, where Bug has ‘buddies’ in higher grades that help him with school work and the like.Report

  14. DensityDuck says:

    In high school I wrote a story where the main character imagines graphically shooting several tormentors. The imagined scenario progresses to fleeing the police, ending on a cliffhanger standoff; then the imagined scenario dissolves and it’s back to real life. The main character smiles as he realizes that he can kill the bullies as many times as he wants in his imagination and always get away with it.

    I wrote that story a couple years before Columbine and the teacher told me about how interesting it was and had I read Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (I had) and I should definitely think about metaphor and simile in my work. I imagine what would have happened if I’d written it after. Hopefully I’d have had the sense to keep it to myself, because otherwise I’d have gone to non-imaginary prison…Report