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Smoke Signals: Sandy Hook tragedy brings out emotions, understanding of Hudson Schools safety protoc

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published: January 2, 2013 12:00 AM

For the second time in less than a year I attended a Hudson Board of Education meeting and bowed my head, along with Board members, in a solemn and silent moment of respect for victims of a school shooting.

The first time our heads bowed for victims was in February after three students were shot and killed at Chardon High School by a fellow student.

The second time was Dec. 17, to honor the 20 students and six adults killed by a man for no apparent reason at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"We are keeping the young children, their teachers, and school administrators, who so senselessly lost their lives, in our thoughts and we are holding them in our prayers," Board President Dave Zuro said at the Dec. 17 meeting, just prior to asking everyone to bow heads in silence.

I could feel the heaviness in the room as emotions rubbed raw by events in Connecticut quietly erupted in tears by those in the administration and audience.

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I was included in that number.

And while the Board went about its regular business, the meeting was tempered with an underlying sadness and realization that the events could have happened much closer. "That could have been Hudson," Board Member James Field said, describing the similar demographic and economic makeup of Newtown.

I thank God that it wasn't.

"The tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has saddened and shocked us all and our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to families of those who were lost to the gunman," Superintendent Steve Farnsworth said during his report.

Other members also expressed their thoughts as I thought back to the day of the shooting and the initial reports I read on Twitter.

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Early reports were that two people were shot by a gunman at an elementary school in Connecticut.

That alone was heartbreaking.

But, as the minutes crawled by and more details became available, it was hard to believe what I was reading.

Journalists deal with tragedy and death on a regular basis -- but not the brutal massacre of 20 innocent children and six adults who tried to save them.

My mind felt numb.

It seemed like the plot of a bad movie. Except a bad movie never made me cry.

The news of these killings did.

The weekend after the shooting I could not shake the images I had seen or the thoughts about children, parents, teachers and families who would only be together again at a funeral.

I also felt a little guilty.

After the recent shooting I take school security serious, but that has not always been the case.

In my almost 10 years with this company, I've visited schools in a variety of cities.

I think back on how aggravated I would get when trying to open a school door and finding it locked tight. I would selfishly try to tug on the door again, thinking for some reason it would open.

Usually after the second pull I would see the intercom on the wall and wait to get identified and buzzed in. I used to think to myself "nothing is going to happen to these kids -- this is Ohio -- who would want to hurt these kids?"

But no more.

After the recent tragedies, I will gladly take my turn on the procedural security line and be thankful the district is taking extra measures to protect our children.

The weekend after the shooting I read social media posts and watched several news programs with well-known broadcasters speculating why this happened and how it could have been avoided.

But I didn't have an opinion.

All I had was sadness at the loss the families suffered.

Days after the tragedy, people were still debating what can or should be done to prevent another tragedy at a school.

But I still don't have an opinion.

While some journalists feel it is their job to speculate and point fingers at guns, video games and the lack of religion in schools as a cause, it's not mine.

I have another job and responsibility during and after this tragedy.

My job, while parents and loved ones are burying tiny caskets, kissing soft cheeks for the last time and tearfully saying goodbye to adults whose only crime that day was trying to prevent more bodies from falling, is to pray and love.

I have and will be praying for those who have lost so much during a season of traditional giving.

I will be praying for and thinking about the families of the six adults who gave the ultimate sacrifice and according to scriptures showed the greatest form of love -- laying down their lives for another.

I will also pray that I'm never again asked to bow my head in silence for victims of a school shooting.

And as I pray, my job will also be to love.

I will continue to love my friends and family with an undying love, treating each one, no matter what, like that very day is our last on earth together.

Because I know, without a doubt, one day it will be.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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