The GPS directed me to the abandoned suburban school. Along the perimeter of the property, signs and banners covered the chain-link fence. Passerby’s stopped to take pictures of the collateral to capture where “it” took place. I found the entrance and parked my car.
The school shooting, a few months prior, rocked this affluent community. Lives were lost, the school year disrupted, and media attention distracted teachers, administrators, students, and parents. In spite of this, the chatter among the teens remained consistent with what I remember when I was their age. Mrs. Dee commanded the room and her students had her respect. This felt like a normal classroom, but in the back of my mind, I knew something happened here.
I opened my tool bag and took out my drill, level, pencil, and anchors. A local business had donated classroom items to the school. On this weekend morning, our team assembled cabinets, hung shelves, and mounted magnetic boards. After the shooting, sections of the school were closed off and existing spaces were re-purposed to handle more classes and activities. We gave Mrs. Dee’s Student Government room a facelift: fresh paint, new storage, and plenty of space to remember the good times.
It felt good to give back. While school shootings are becoming almost ubiquitous with America, this one hit close to home. On my way out, I shook Mrs. Dee’s hand and thanked her for all that she has done.