The last time I was inside the walls of Oxford High School, it was for an active shooter drill.
I was a reporter then, for a local paper, and Oxford was where I had spent years as a student. It was more than a decade ago and such drills were relatively new at the time. I thought that taking part in one of them would be a compelling story — a way to show people what it might be like to live through a horrible moment.
Loud bangs were used to simulate gunshots. Smoke filled the halls. I ran with people into bathrooms; into classrooms. My heart beat loudly, even though I knew it was a drill. But that was the point of it.
After the real-life simulation, when I walked out of my former school, I remember thinking to myself: “God I hope this never happens here.”
I hate that today, it did.
Three teenage students were killed on Tuesday in the school district I graduated from. In the halls I used to walk. The classrooms where I struggled with math. The cafeteria that hosted after-school dances.
I was 13 years old when the Columbine massacre happened. I was in the eighth grade, in that building — back then, it was a middle school. I wish I could say that I remember details of that day, but I don’t. All I remember is fear that something like that could happen at my school.
Drills like the one I covered years ago have become commonplace at schools across the country, including at Oxford High School. Students interviewed after the shooting said that the school had had such a drill last month and Michael McCabe, the Oakland County undersheriff, said that even though there had been a detailed plan in place to respond to such a tragedy, “you never think it’s going to happen where you live.”