An Average “Back to School Night” in the Era of Mass Shootings

Elly Lonon
Sep 3, 2019 · 3 min read
ajari [CC BY 2.0 (]

“Lockdown, Lockdown, Lock the door
Shut the lights off, Say no more
Go behind the desk and hide
Wait until it’s safe inside
Lockdown, Lockdown it’s all done
Now it’s time to have some fun!”

…The words go with the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

— Allyson Chiu reporting for the Washington Post

Hello Parents!

We are so excited to welcome your kindergarteners to Shady Valley. I see some familiar faces in the crowd! Raise your hand if you’ve attended our Back to School night before? Wonderful! I know you’re all eager to visit your child’s classroom, see their adorable self-portraits, and assess the viability of the supply closet as a safe room, but first we need to review some quick housekeeping items including the new “procedures” we’ve implemented this year as part of the district’s recent adoption of ALiCE protocol.

In your folders, you’ll find several handouts addressing our most frequently asked questions — start times, bus schedules, a list of therapists specializing in gun trauma. I know most of you have already purchased the school supplies each teacher requires, but I want to make you aware that in addition to our usual line of spirit-themed backpacks, matching lunch bags, and hand sanitizer, this year we’ve found another vendor who specializes in camouflage, bulletproof lunch bags that double as protective vests and GPS trackers. They even offer complimentary monogramming!

Please dress your child in comfortable clothing suitable for crafting and running every day. At Shady Valley we believe strongly in the importance of play and of being able to evacuate quickly. In under 90 seconds, we can empty this building and both trailers of all 470 kids through the field and into our newest play structure, “The Castle” — an ongoing class project where students are encouraged to add sandbags to the walls during Free Play. We’re building minds, bodies, AND a bunker.

Regarding Phys Ed, we’ve diversified the list of approved activities to include cross-curriculum skills such as running in zig zags, hurling sports equipment at attackers, and learning the basics of hemorrhage control — how to improvise a bandage and apply direct wound pressure — in our updated version of Red Rover. We’ve even scheduled a guest lecturer during Career Week who will teach your kindergarteners how to fashion tourniquets out of masking tape, Pokémon cards, and rubber bands.

Hot breakfasts and lunches are available every full school day. Allergies can be accommodated by the cafeteria cooking staff. Shared snacks must be from the list of pre-approved items in your folder. If we work together as a community to keep our children safe, hopefully we can avoid state implementation of drills where our children and staff simulate anaphylactic shock or practice epi-pens to the heart. To that end, we ask that you not send in birthday treats from home. Instead we suggest you join us to lead a special craft, to read your child’s favorite book to the class, or to play a game of “How Long Can We Stay Silent in the Storage Room.”

Every student enters kindergarten at their own unique level. That being said, if you’d like to help your child excel, then you can work on drawing capital letters, tying shoelaces, and tuck-and-rolling when jumping out of windows on upper stories. But the most important thing you can do is to read to your child. In your folders you’ll find an extensive list of useful, age-appropriate books like Mrs. Bindergarden Goes to Kindergarten, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence, and Splat the Cat Goes to School.

Kindergarten is a magical year in which you’ll see your child blossom. By next summer, they’ll be writing sentences, reading independently, and hopefully, alive. Before you know it, your children will be writing their own wills as many of our upperclassmen like to do after each of our four state-mandated drills per year.

Here’s to the class of 2032! Let’s have the best year yet!


Thanks to Alex Baia

Elly Lonon

Written by




Medium humor. Large laughs.

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