Edit desk: A Sandy Hook perspective on Parkland


Kayla Sippin

“Another school shooting?” I said after reading a CNN pop-up notification on my phone. A wave of disappointment washed over me.

“Oh yeah,” my friend said casually. “I heard about that.”

End of conversation.

I’ve tried talking to a handful of Lehigh students about the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. The conversations usually ended like this, with a lack of concern and discussion. It’s frustrating to feel as though no one cares to the same degree that I do.

As a resident of Sandy Hook, Connecticut, I know what it’s like to have your hometown experience a tragedy. I also know what it’s like to grow from one. Having gone through the experiences following the shooting of my former school, Sandy Hook Elementary, I want to let the residents of Parkland know they’re not alone and that our thoughts are with them.

The day after the Parkland shooting, my closest friends from home texted me about how they were tearing up in class because of inconsiderate classmates and cold, unfeeling social media posts that pathetically attempted sympathy.

My stomach sank.

I hate watching people from my hometown hurt after a tragedy similar to the one that happened at our local elementary school.

Aside from the countless articles from various news sources, my Facebook feed was all full of articles and posts shared by my former high school classmates and teachers related to the shooting, gun violence and teachers becoming armed. Some of these posts featured unsettling debates in the comments.

Newtown has already sent so much love to Parkland through an educator banner signing and a vigil. I’m disappointed the Lehigh and Bethlehem communities haven’t reacted that significantly after the shooting.

Does it have to take experiencing a tragedy to become active and truly concerned about the issue?

It could be that people think something as terrible as a shooting would never happen to their community. This issue is much closer to home than people may realize.

A student from Allen High School in Allentown threatened to “shoot up their school” last week. Shootings are unpredictable, and can happen anywhere at any time. If they can happen at my elementary school or a high school in Florida, they can happen at Lehigh, too.

I don’t think many Lehigh students have given thought to what would happen if a shooter were to come into FML or one of the dining halls and start shooting at innocent students.

I had drills on how to stay safe in my classroom in high school, but I don’t know anything about gun safety on a college campus, and I’m sure many others haven’t a clue.

My greatest fear is that within a couple weeks, coverage about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will fade into nothingness. I’ve come to expect a continued cycle of shooting, media coverage, public outcry, attempts at reform and then lack of meaningful action.

I’ve set my hopes high for this time around — as I’ve done after every shooting.

President Donald Trump is now advocating for arming teachers. Although I don’t agree with teachers being trained like security guards, it’s fulfilling to see that legislators other than my local representatives from Connecticut are reacting with something more than a tweet.

However, to get new laws in place and make positive changes the majority wants, we need to contact our legislators and let them know teenagers shouldn’t have military-style weapons in their hands.

Some Lehigh students have been organizing to attend March for our Lives, a march organized by students from Parkland in major cities across the country. This is a good step in the right direction.

But we can’t keep going through this cycle of experiencing more and more tragedies — they have to stop and change starts with you. I encourage Lehigh students to express their opinions, talk to legislators and be advocates for safety.

I want us to be there for the Parkland students. I know Newtown is with them, but Lehigh should be, too. 

School shootings need to stop and conversations that lead to action need to start.

Kayla Sippin, ’20, is an associate news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]

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  1. Robert Davenport on

    I am sorry to see reenactments of the disturbing events that happened to your school in your hometown, We can advocate for changes to make such events rarer and less destructive but all of us can treat each other with care and respect.

    “The Community Service Office united Lehigh students and South Bethlehem middle schoolers with Broughal Bowling, a tutoring and bowling event…” is an example of something worthwhile Lehigh students can accomplish.

  2. This is my favorite piece that you’ve ever written. Even though I have no experience like yours I feel the cold knot of sadness and anger and your words move beautifully.

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