Even though the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl by her 6-year-old classmate occurred in Michigan, first-grade teachers in the Brainerd lakes area are prepared to talk about the tragedy to their young students.
Brenda Marohn, a first-grade teacher at Nisswa Elementary School, said her students didn't bring up the school shooting this morning, but she expects they might over the next few days as they learn of additional television news broadcasts and their parents' conversations. When they do, she's prepared to discuss the tragedy.
"Usually what I'll do is listen to them, first of all, and then we will talk about gun safety, school safety, good decision-making and the sadness of the situation," explained Marohn. "This little boy, I'm sure, has no idea the impact of what he did."
First-graders in Dorothy Peterson's classroom at Pequot Lakes Elementary School also didn't talk about the tragedy this morning, but she said she will likely bring it up with them this afternoon, to find out how much they know and see if they have any questions or concerns.
"We'll talk about how the rules are not to bring weapons to school," explained Peterson. "Hopefully, this isn't a common thing that weapons are that accessible. It makes me sick to think about it. I have kids who all the time have disagreements and you would never guess it could end like that. Everyday, I ask the kids, 'Use your voice, not your hands.'"
"I think it's an unusual and rare occurrence," said Pequot Superintendent Jim Oraskovich. "We have a lot of services to help kids. We don't have metal detectors and we probably will never have them, but I would hope that if we saw trouble like that that we could prevent it."
"If there is one thing we've learned is that anything is possible," said Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth when asked if a similar tragedy could happen here. "We have safety procedures, and we work on relationship building so issues can be worked out. The district has a zero tolerance for weapons. But who could imagine they would need to frisk a first-grader?"
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