Alejandra Bonilla & Josefa Herrera
BMHS PrideTime Reporters
NORWALK- As students rushed out of the building last Wednesday due to a fire alarm that went off in the building, a sense of uneasiness fell upon everyone’s shoulders.
“Between what happened last week in Parkland and Norwalk High the other day and our early morning building evacuation yesterday, you know I will admit as a principal of this building that when the alarm went on at 7:30 in the morning my heart jumped for a second and i’m like are we just evacuating or… and I think people were thinking a lot about this” said Scott Hurwitz, principal at Brien McMahon.
Given the events that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and even recently at Norwalk High School, several students had more questions than answers from the administration. What was their response going to be? Why wasn't the shooting at Parkland, Florida addressed when students came back from February break? How would McMahon tackle this as a school?
To address these concerns, a forum took place in the Library. Students and faculty alike sat in an open circle to see eye to eye and have a critical conversation about an important matter; What do we do now?
Despite the short notice, a considerable amount of the student body appeared to voice their opinions, with the headcount surpassing sixty students.
Hurwitz opened the discussion by setting basic guidelines and expectations. “We reconsider this an attempt to do things that are not only going to have an impact in a greater world but also potentially help us do a better job within this building."
With this being the case, student's hands promptly sprang up with suggestions.
One of the more popular proposals was the introduction of metal detectors to the building. "In this school, we should have metal detectors. I think it's a good idea the metal detectors. We have metal detectors in banks, and I mean what is more valuable than us. We are the next generation. And behind that line of defense, arm guards there and not just one police officer for the whole school" said one junior.
The mention of arming teachers steered the conversation to one about militarizing the school, which others were not exactly in favor of.
"Teachers didn't sign up to have to carry a gun and have to kill somebody and I don’t think that we should ever have to make anyone make that decision because a lot of people believe in faith or their religion," said Gabriela Duran ('18).
AP Spanish teacher Hector Mirabal agreed, claiming, "I do not think the teachers should be armed. If ultimately it was an option I would not resist a training but I think that the relationship of the teachers with the students is very complex so that the teacher has a firearm. I believe that with everything that is going to be invested in weapons for the teachers, can be paid to train and have more security in the schools, whose function was that. I have no problem with armed guards."
Aidan Bowman (‘19) concurred to an extent by saying, "While I think adding security all these measures are extremely beneficial I also think that at some point it does fall to us I think that we should probably be talking about it in our classes and educate ourselves about what is going on because at the end of the day it’s us... It falls to us, we are the ones at school, we are the ones doing everything."
Other recommendations came up about policies McMahon has already adopted.
Mason Lapine (‘19) suggested, “if there is ever a situation like this if something horrific happens I think we should establish a rendezvous spot beside McMahon." Jackeline Lopez (‘18) also emphasized focusing on the other aspects of Run, Hide, Fight. "We always practice hiding, but we never actually practice running or fighting."
The forum was well received, with many praising the decision on behalf of the administration to have it. However, there were suggestions on how to improve upon the framework established last Thursday. "It is possible that a lot of students that have difficulty with English and having a discussion like this is at an academic level. We shouldn’t have to expose a student to such difficult thing if they don’t feel comfortable with it yet," said Mirabal. He also expressed that there were several points overlooked.
"The day of protest and another of commiseration was not talked about enough. Those are important things so I think we should pay more attention. Also, because we are not an isolated school, we need to talk more about mental health. The majority of the attackers had mental problems, they say that the shooter at Las Vegas that killed so many people also had mental problems so if that is the case that should not escape the dialogue between us. Some are saying the mental problem is treated, but if the problem is not identified until it’s too late, what then?...There are just things that go beyond the limits of the school and that are political problems that students should be able to discuss more in depth."
To Mirabal's point, several students have demonstrated an interest in making an impact bigger than McMahon alone. Juniors Aidan Bowman and Maggie Luong are exploring the possibility of even marching on the 24th this month. In fact, they have gone as far as creating a google classroom which includes important information, an itinerary, and financial projections. The code to join is aubd2n.
The discussion may have only scratched the surface of this complex issue, yet, there is one thing that is certain; this event has sparked a flame within the youth of not only McMahon but this nation as a whole. In the words of Bowman, "The world is not going to get change by sitting in a classroom and hiding behind walls. We need to be out there doing things and expressing our beliefs because I think that’s the only way things are going to get changed."