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‘Fear and hopelessness’

Most of the interviews in this package on school violence began with a single question, “What is your initial reaction when you hear about an incident like the one at Parkland?”

These responses, listed below, often showed how the individual’s training and profession shaped their reaction even in the earliest stages of news coverage of the event.

“Devastation. Devastation for those involved — the victims, the parents, the responders. Devastation because I’m a parent first. That’s the first thing I think of. How is this going to affect me if I’m involved? It helps me to be able to, I think, be prepared to know what somebody might need or expect or just something that might give them comfort.”

— Michele Parsons, Cumberland County Department of Public Safety

“It’s terrifying and heartbreaking at the same time. … My background is professional counseling, and all of my career has been primarily in higher education so that educator role is important to me. It’s an overwhelming feeling of fear and hopelessness and also a pressure to act or try to transform.”

— Dr. Nicole Hill, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Shippensburg University

“The first reaction is always, ‘Not again.’ That’s always mine. And then, I usually turn on the news to see. I usually mute it because I can’t stand to listen to the same thing over and over again. It’s more to watch the video or to see if they are showing anything to see how those people are handling it.”

Chief Christopher Raubenstine, Silver Spring Township Police Department

“The first reaction always is overwhelming sadness for the students, the teachers, the families in the community.”

— Paula Bussard, president of the school board, Carlisle Area School District

“The first thought is always: There, but for the grace of God go I. Because no community, regardless of their demographics, is immune from the threat of school violence.”

— Dr. Frederick Withum, Cumberland Valley School District

“My first reaction was similar to that of most parents who have children in school. I was horrified with the loss of young lives as well as for the heroic teachers and students who had to put themselves in harm’s way to protect students.”

— Michael Gossert, president of the Cumberland Valley School Board

Email Tammie at Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.


Carlisle Reporter

Carlisle Reporter for The Sentinel.

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