19 precious children started their day like any other day.  They packed their backpacks, probably including their favourite snacks and maybe a Poppit or two. They were looking forward to the end of the school year celebrations that awaited them.   They were athletes, award winners and cherished classmates. I would imagine there was lots of chatter about upcoming summer plans ~ trips to amusement parks, camping with grandparents, ball games and so much more. As the morning drew close to lunch time, the innocence of that typical grade 4 classroom was shattered when an 18 year old armed gunman entered their classroom and savagely extinguished lives.  My throat aches and I shed tears as I envision their inexperienced reactions which undoubtedly morphed from disbelief to horror in a matter of minutes. How frightened and scared they must have been. What terror they witnessed.

2 teachers (one of whom was a mother of 4) started their day like any other day. Like most educators I would imagine they were looking forward to the well-deserved summer break with a sense of bittersweetness. It’s always hard to send our students onto new educators for the next year. One of them capturing a picture of a student who had earned an Honours certificate and sent it to their mother ~ probably a common everyday occurrence.   For that parent, that has now become the very last picture of their cherished child. The heart of a loving educator to the very end.  I can only imagine the terror as they realized that their beloved students were about to become the next victims in a series of senseless school shootings. I have no doubt that they did what they could to protect them, until their own lives were taken.

It is inconceivable to even imagine this occurring anywhere in the world and yet there have been over 240 young lives lost in mass shootings in the US in this year alone ~ and we are only 5 months into this year. WHY????

Tonight, my words are stilted as my brain has yet to truly decipher a coherent way to manage the hurricane of emotions. Today I had a parent reach out to me with concern for our school community, based on the tragedy in Texas. She wanted assurance that we were doing all we can to avoid a similar tragedy. I did my best to alleviate her fears ~ although I know that my words were not enough.

May the Lord bless their innocent souls and welcome them into His loving arms with the promise of erasing their final memories of terror.