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Reading Objects 2019: Student Edition

Image of item
Harold Eugene Edgerton
dye; photographic film (photographic materials)
dye transfer print; color photograph
40.64 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 inches)

Kaelyn McGrady

Undergraduate- English Education

Class of 2021


       I stare at Bullet Through Apple by Harold Edgerton circa 1964. This piece, for most, may enchant people with its bright primary colors, or perhaps they are wowed by the articulation and patience it had to of taken to capture the bullet ripping through. I thought these things too… but only for a second. The fear set in rapidly… as rapid as the rise in school shootings.

       It’s 2032 and I have been teaching high school English for six years. At least once a week we execute school shooter drills. Everyone stays silent. Close and black out the door. Barricade it. Squish sweaty bodies against the wall. You can no longer turn on the news without hearing about a “loner” kid who took revenge. Every morning I double check the secret compartment under my desk for the handheld gun now required for every teacher and every afternoon I make sure it is properly locked. Some Friday night football games I volunteer as extra security. Everyone told me teachers do not make much money, but they never said I would spend every day fearing for the lives of my students. I was never warned that staff bonding would turn to gun training and safety and I would have to have some kind of knowledge in psychology to look for “signs”.  Being an educator has climbed the scales of stressful jobs to have.

       It is Wednesday, April 10th, 6:33 a.m. The weather has warmed, seniors can taste freedom near. I have parked my car in the staff lot and walk briskly to my classroom to prepare for a new day. Everything is exactly still in its place. 7:15 a.m. students shuffle in as usual, and the day is in full swing. 9:27 a.m. code words flood the speakers. Words that let me know it is no drill and leave goosebumps on my arms, but panic has been taught to stay vacant in my eyes. I signal as I would for a drill, and everyone rises. Stay silent. Close and black out the door. Barricade it. Squish sweaty bodies against the wall. A routine became reality. 10 minutes have passed. 20, 30, now an hour. Tears are streaming down faces. I do not remember when they were told it was real or when cold, familiar metal made its way into my hands. Gunshots ring out. 12:57 p.m. we are released into the shaking arms of loved ones.

6:06 p.m. school is closed tomorrow.

Thursday, April 11th 9:27 a.m.

14 people dead: seven seniors, four staff members, three juniors and another eight are seriously injured.

School is cancelled the rest of the week.