I woke up to a text message at 6:30 this morning about the apartment complex across from our school. It was surrounded by a SWAT team. Apparently a man with a gun who had already fired shots was holed up in his apartment and refused to come out. The main road to our school was shut down but school was not cancelled or delayed. As the morning went on, the man was taken into custody. My students came to first period talking about the sound of the police on megaphones demanding the shooter come out of the apartment. Two students who live in and nearby the complex were sharing their experience of being evacuated to a city bus while the police surrounded their homes.
It angers me that the crimes that happen in this neighborhood are so rampant and that my students have to endure it. I am angry that this neighborhood has the highest emergency call rate in the city. Twelve people a day here call 911. That shouldn’t be a place kids grow up. But it is. And I want to think my kids are doing the best they can. And I want to think I am doing the best I can. But I don’t know.
As I pulled up to the stoplight before the school, I saw the TV vans across the street and I wondered what it must be like for my kids to be walking to school knowing their neighborhood is a place others can watch on TV, relieved that they don’t have to set foot on these streets. I wondered if they thought about that, if they would try to change it, and if the presence of the news cameras made them feel uncomfortable.
After first period, I looked out my classroom window and saw something in the sky. It was a small kite. I walked to the parking lot and across the street, the TV cameras had gone and in their place was a small group of students flying kites. Each kite trembled in the air high above the concrete, and at the other end of each kite stood a child, looking up, watching the big blue sky. I looked up too, and felt my breath return.