Nothing Has Changed


Dani Wilson, Opinion Writer

My vision began to blur as I felt my legs move forward before my mind could catch up. The shouts and fast-moving bodies of the people around me practically gave my already-clouded brain whiplash as I was ushered by the crowd of people through the red double-doors.

It was February 4th, 2015 at Ryan High School. The bell had just rung to let us out of school for the day, and we all sighed in relief as we walked out towards the bus lanes, the idea of homework and tests swimming around our brains. It had just been a normal school day.

I met up with a few friends, and we laughed and poked fun at each other while we drifted through the overcrowded halls.

Without warning, it was as though we could all feel the atmosphere shift. The whole school got quiet temporarily before becoming exponentially loud again. We saw teachers up ahead of us herding kids into classrooms and down hallways, shouting about a lockdown, so naturally, we sped up and followed them wherever they led us.

We tried asking questions, wanting to know why the frenzy had started in the first place, but our questions were met with demands of silence as they continued ducking kids into shelter spaces.

We ran to the back of the lecture hall, the laughter and sarcasm from before replaced by fearful looks and whispered questions that no one had the answers to.

At some point during the madness, the lights were turned off, and everything grew quiet along with their absence.

Despite the darkness, I kept making eye contact with the people around me. A few of them I had known forever. Some I had only met that year.

The looks of fear on their faces were all the same.

Seconds turned to minutes, and minutes turned to hours in that crowded room.

Half of the kids around us were indistinctly laughing and joking, not realizing the full weight of what we were in the midst of.  The other half knew very well what was happening, and their lack of words or movement expressed it better than their words ever could have.

I couldn’t stop thinking. Were we even safe? The doors to the lecture hall had so many windows and didn’t lock. What would we do if someone came in with a gun? Some people still had the bright flash ringer on their phones- could someone see that from the outside?

As more time went on, people started to calm down; quiet conversations started up again. Yet, deep down, we knew that we still weren’t out of the woods.

Eventually, we could see, through the little lecture hall windows, men dressed in S.W.A.T. uniforms and carrying huge guns standing guard in the hallways. I knew the fact that the school was full of heavily trained guards meant that the situation had probably been contained.

I still couldn’t shake the feeling of not being safe.

Days- even weeks- afterward, the uneasiness lingered. Some days, it still creeps up on me now.

After hours of sitting and waiting, not knowing when we were going to leave- if we were going to leave- we were finally released. It had just been a non-credible phone threat; a “false alarm” with no real danger to us.

A “false alarm” that was the initial strike of fear in so many’s hearts that day.

A “false alarm” that felt all too real.

A “false alarm” that some still see sometimes when they close their eyes.

We were just sitting in our seats, a day like any other in our A.P. statistics class. We were laughing, discussing how to solve a problem when the beep of the intercom sounded, all of us freezing in our seats.

We were seniors. We knew what that noise meant.

The principal came over the speakers, issuing a lockdown, pointedly emphasizing that it was not a drill.

We sat still for a few moments- hoping that if we didn’t move, it would go away- before scurrying to the front of the room and huddling around the desks.

I pressed the lock button on my phone to check the time, but instead made another shocking discovery-

It was February 5th, 2019 at Braswell High School. Exactly 4 years later.

Nothing had changed.