December 18, 2012
This is a story of just one school, one brief moment at that school earlier today.
The school is Pinehurst Elementary. Normally in the mornings, there is a Pinehurst officer on Dundee Road directing the knot of traffic that forms there as parents pull in to drop off their students at school.
My son, Ayden, normally rides the bus, but this morning we let him sleep in and I took him to school. The normal officer was there directing traffic. But as I pulled in to the school circle and queued for drop-off, I counted no fewer than two other officers in the circle overseeing the drop-off. And the teachers, pleasant enough, clearly had vigilant looks in their eyes.
As Pinehurst Elementary Sara Bigley said in a note to parents Monday night, "Safety of our students is our top priority."
The emotion of the moment overcame me, and it was a struggle just to tell my kindergartner "goodbye." As I pulled away, tears rolling down my cheeks, I noticed a Moore County Schools police cruiser patrolling down Dundee.
I was overwhelmed by the absolute loss of innocence, if not for the children certainly for the school, the parents and our community. Ayden and the other children just think of these officers as their buddies and think nothing of seeing them there. The officers are frequently in the school to read, to mentor, to help with recess and have lunch with the kids.
But we all remember a different time -- just a week ago -- when this drop-off scene was unimaginable.
Elementary schools should be idyllic places of warmth and welcome where hallways smell of crayon and paste and teachers shushing voices. The singsong patterns of learning should sound out from open windows, and playgrounds should be beautiful bedlam.
They still are, but they now exist under ever more watchful eyes. Because scenes of great tragedy are very imaginable.
As a Facebook friend just posted to me, "We are all Newtown parents now."