Kellie Iannacone is a 2017 Staples High School graduate, now a 1st-year student at the Villanova University School of Business. She writes:
I was walking into a review session with my English professor when I got the text. It was from my younger brother, a sophomore at Staples.
His message read: “I’m freaking out”
Since leaving Westport to attend Villanova as freshman this fall, text conversations between my brother and I normally consist of a meme back and forth, or him looking for advice on what classes to take as a rising junior.
So when I received his message on Tuesday, I knew something was wrong.
Before I even had time to respond, a screen shot of superintendent Palmer’s message to parents surfaced in my hometown group chat. I put 2 and 2 together, and was horrified.
I alerted my teacher. She was extremely understanding, letting me use my phone throughout the session and even offering to reschedule if I could not focus.
During the next few hours I felt a fear I had never experienced before. It’s like watching your worst nightmare play out in real life, and feeling that your heart may beat out of your chest. I could not rest easy until I heard from my brother he had made it through the front door of our house.
As I write this on my train ride to Westport for spring break, I know I could have been coming home to a completely different outcome. Rather than returning to a full household, I know I could have returned to my household minus one, my neighborhood minus one, my town minus one (or even worse, multiple people).
From hundreds of miles away, I told my brother I didn’t want him to go to school Wednesday morning. From hundreds of miles away I felt the pain, heartache and fear that my hometown was enduring. From hundreds of miles away I felt the need to run home, and shelter my brother and community from any future possible
As a first year college student, my biggest worries should be trying to combat the freshman 15 and walking into the showers only to find they are all full. My biggest worry should not be that when I go back to school a a little over a week from now that my brother, my friends, and my former educators will possibly be taken from me before I return to Westport again. My biggest fear should not be that when I go back to Villanova I could face the same threats.
I want kindergartners to be able to play on the playground without fear a shooter will enter school grounds. I want middle schoolers to enjoy the new array of options in the cafeterias without fear that an intruder will come after them. I want high schoolers to get excited about going to college and finding themselves, not fearing that they may not even make it there.
Many people refer to us as living in the “Westport bubble.” That means we live in some form of perfected alternative reality, compared to the rest of the world. With the incidents last Tuesday, I believe that we are no different than the rest of the world.
Mass school shootings and gun violence are issues beyond our personal control. We are told “if you see something, say something,” but I think we can all agree we’ve seen enough.
I cannot stress more the need to pop this bubble, and let our voices be heard.