Student activities on hold during lockdown

In the past, attending high school has been full of repetitive tasks. You wake up every morning, spend hours choosing the perfect outfit and hair style to keep up with the changing trends and drive to school.

While in school, we count down the minutes until the 2 p.m. bell rings — to release us from our “torture.” No matter how good or bad your week was, there was always the Friday night football game.

Unfortunately, high school has changed over the past few weeks. Those simple routines that we began to despise we now long for. To be able to wake up and not have to listen to another news story regarding the sniper, who has been wreaking havoc in the area, would be invigorating. High school life has changed dramatically. Our schools are on complete lockdown and everything has been canceled.

The Oct. 9 shooting rocked Manassas residents. When the sniper attacked innocent civilians in Maryland many of us said, “It will never happen to us.” Yet the unthinkable always rears its ugly head when you least expect it. After the shooting, many students and parents were frightened because the Sunoco gas station is only a few miles away from Stonewall Jackson High School.

“My mom was freaked out by the shooting. She did not even send me to school on Thursday,” said senior Heather Marshall.

Thursday felt as if it were a scene out of a bad horror film. Students were quickly herded from the parking lot into the school. Cops were stationed near Stonewall, many driving up and down Rixlew Lane on constant alert. The rain outside reflected the gloomy atmosphere inside. The usual cheerfulness of the student body was lacking.

Many students shared the opinion of senior Elaine Davis when she said, “Stuff like the shooting doesn’t happen here. The sniper could have been in our own back yards and who would have known?”

Since the attack on a 13-year-old boy in Bowie, Md., schools all over the metropolitan area have been under lockdown. The procedure was taken even more seriously in Prince William County after the shooting outside Manassas.

Once students have entered the school and the late bell has rung, all the doors into the school are locked, except the door in the front entrance. This door at the main entrance of Stonewall is guarded at all times by administrators and teachers. Visitors who enter the building must sign in at the front desk and are monitored closely by what time they enter and leave the building.

Under the procedures of the lockdown, teachers and administrators are constantly roaming the halls ensuring the safety of the students. They are doing a great job of monitoring the halls, but it is frustrating being stopped by five teachers when all I want to do is go to the bathroom. I understand why these procedures are necessary, but they are still becoming tiresome.

As for the after school activities, they are non-existent.

For the past two weeks, all after- school activities have been canceled. “The safety of the students is the priority for the school right now. I understand why administrators feel that it is necessary to cancel all after school activities,” said junior Kristen Lewis.

Unfortunately, this is a burden for many students who rely on after school tutoring for help in their classes. Though many teachers understand the current situation, it is difficult for them to move on with lessons when students do not understand the material.

The class that has been most effected by these new procedures is the senior class. The thoughtlessness and cruelty of one or two individuals has upended the ritual passages of senior year. At Stonewall, seniors, as well as underclassmen, are able to take part in many activities including decorating homecoming floats and painting our class rocks.

This year, even our traditions have been canceled. As for the floats, there is no need to make one for the parade will not take place. The rocks remain white in the fields since we are not able to paint them for fear that the sniper will attack.

Junior Rory Milette said: “It is a shame that we can’t participate in the activities that have occurred for years. I feel bad that the senior class is being punished out of their traditions for something that they did not even cause.”

As for high schools in the local area, most of their activities also have been canceled. Football games around the region have not taken place. Homecomings have been canceled causing disappointment to many students. Even meetings with colleges have been canceled since many don’t want their representatives in Northern Virginia while the sniper is at large.

Simple activities that high school students around the metropolitan area took part in everyday have now been completely reversed. While we sit in locked down schools, the sniper is still targeting innocent civilians.

“Horrible life changing events happen everyday, but you still need to live your life,” said senior Mike Fager. “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost a loved one. Hopefully this terrible time in our community will be brought to a close quickly. To those of us feeling uneasy and frustrated, we will sit and wait for the return of normality — the humdrum of everyday life. When everything in school will return to the routine, which we will now have a new appreciation for. When the seniors can enjoy and participate in our traditions and pass them down to the underclassmen. When the mundane is normal and we will not take any of these simple things, our rites of passage, for granted again.”

Tarren Smarr is a senior at Stonewall Jackson High School and a correspondent for the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger Hall Pass teen page.

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