While contemplating what to share in this week’s blog post, tips for applying Early Action/Early Decision seemed appropriate, but that topic was not the first to come to mind. It should be given this time of year, but instead I am choosing to write about what really happened at Popp & Associates last week and why Early Action and Early Decision did not make the cut for this post.
As many clients know, October 1 is an important deadline at P&A: students are expected to confirm their Nov 1 application plans with us by this date. One would expect that the majority of last week’s communications with client families would have been consumed with this topic. But, for the 1st time in many years, it wasn’t. Last week, most of the e-mails and text messages exchanged with parents and students did not focus on college applications or college at all; they focused on safety. Why? I talked to parents and students on too many occasions about safety because three clients in three separate Boston area school systems had their safety compromised by bomb threats at their schools. Three students in three different high schools had their school days interrupted, their routines interrupted, and their lives interrupted by threats of violence. Instead of confirming Early Decision/Early Action plans, students were confirming that they were alive and unharmed. Instead of discussing assigned readings or taking quizzes, students were fleeing into cold weather without jackets, backpacks, and without any understanding of why their school day was taking an unexpected and frightening turn. Parents’ workdays were interrupted with frequent text updates from their children assuring them that they were okay. Students, fortunately, did not suffer any physical harm, but were they entirely okay?
None of the bomb threats were fulfilled, but when I sat with students who had experienced these situations, those threats did not end on the days they were made; the fear and the questions they ignited still linger in students’ minds. Though students were resilient and resumed their everyday routines quickly, the chaos they encountered in their schools last week has not been forgotten. It won’t be any time soon.
May this be the last time that the days surrounding October 1 take on the meaning that they did this fall. We’re in a new college application season now. I hope that an improved commitment to school safety and violence prevention is not far behind. Our students deserve nothing less.