At one of our local middle schools, a student let off a series of firecrackers during Friday lunch. It happens once, maybe twice, a year -- not too unusual. Except today. Today 1400 kids sat in silence for two seconds, and then ran. They ran out onto the upper fields and up towards the classrooms. Some jumped the fence and kept running up the streets. Others tired before the fence and waited out on the grass, regaining their calm, telling themselves it really couldn't have been gunfire.
The thing is that on Monday, all of these students sat through an intense assembly entitled Rachel's Challenge (www.rachelschallenge.com) that recounted to these students who had been preschoolers at the time, the story of the Columbine shootings. It was a moving assembly, which I'm sure had a profound affect on many students in its call for spreading compassion and kindness. But on this day, the reality of that story literally scared the crap out of 1400 middle schoolers when they heard a series of firecrackers explode.
It was a little reminder that timing can be everything.