1,000 miles away, the Quad City community is reacting to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Trish Lang describes the haunting image that took over her mind all day… “Small coffin. Too many of them. Too many of them.”
She says there was only one thing she wanted to do when she heard the news.
“I wanted to come and get him.”
Her son is in first grade at Garfield Elementary School in Moline. While she and others waited to pick up their kids on Friday, December 14th, 2012, parents told News 8 they are simply shocked.
“You hear this all the time and I just don’t understand how people can be so senseless,” says Tiffany Mack, who has a daughter in third grade.
“It brings a little bit of tears to your eyes and you think about your kids and I’ll give them a little special hug when I pick them up… I’ll tell you that much,” says Jeff Whipple, who has a son in kindergarten.
By sunset, flags were flying half-staff outside Pleasant Valley High School and throughout the country.
Meanwhile, superintendents on both sides of the river are speaking out… saying this is not a school issue, but a society issue.
“There is no place where this could not unfold, whether it is in a school or any other public venue,” says Dr. Jim Spelhaug, Superintendent of the Pleasant Valley Community School District. “These are issues where we as a community have to address. It isn’t a school issue, it isn’t a movie theater issue, it isn’t a church issue, or wherever all these various massacres have taken place. It’s a community issue and we have to continue to address both protective and preventive measures as a community.”
“The days of having a casual attitude about those kinds of things are over,” adds Dr. David Moyer, Superintendent of the Moline School District. “Schools always thought of themselves as public entities and public buildings and so it wasn`t a real high level of concern about those things and now there is. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs, but true.”
Most parents say they do feel like their children are safe at school. But it’s when a place of learning becomes a place of mourning so quickly that they hope more measure are put into place just as fast.
“Preparing for the unexpected, going through the drills, talking to the kids, making sure they’re prepared, that’s the biggest thing,” says Tiffany.
Both Dr. Spelhaug and Dr. Moyer say they are already reviewing and re-evaluating their security policies and procedures. They want parents and the community to know that they are taking this event very seriously.
“We never make the assumption that this would never happen in our Quad Cities,” says Dr. Spelhaug. “We are very proud of the security measures we have, but the most unwise thing we can do is have a mindset that somehow we are insulated from this.”
“Every time one of these things happens, sometimes you find that there’s something in your policy or practice that needs a review,” says Dr. Moyer. “It’s necessary that we pay attention and sometimes things come up and practices change and they do evolve. We do different things now than schools probably did five or six years ago, because every time something like this happens we learn more and more from it.”
With news coverage on television around the clock, it’s tough to hide a tragedy like this from children and some parents wonder what they should say to their children. Click here for advice from a local school counselor, interviewed by News 8′s John David.