Teacher Derrick Shonauer is credited for tackling a gunman at Normal Community High School. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)
By Camille Taylor
Last Friday, I was ending my morning walk, half running to get out of the rain when my mother called to ask if I’d heard about the gunshots at Normal Community High School.
I retired in May as a counselor from NCHS, and what she was saying didn’t make sense to me. Unfortunately she hadn’t misunderstood the news report. I spent the day at NCHS on Monday, and I witnessed and spoke to many courageous people.
The staff and students experienced something that most of us will only read about or see on T.V. I believe this experience has planted a seed to motivate more school spirit, more awareness of others, and more empathy for those who may not quite “fit in.”
Although it was sometimes painful listening to some of the students’ accounts of their ordeal, it was part of the natural healing process that must occur. I recall when NCHS implemented the Code Red drills. Our school had an agreement with Eastview Church to use it as an evacuation site in case of an emergency. Consequently we practiced evacuation drills and walked over to the church learning the location to gather students, how to take attendance, and how to dismiss them to their parents.
As we walked over to the church, you would hear kids say things like, “this is so lame, or why are we doing this, or shut up and just be glad we got out of class!” I never knew if we would need to do this in a real emergency, but I was glad we were at least practicing.
Students had also practiced what to do and where to go in their classrooms if a Code Red announcement came over the intercom. Again, no one liked the idea of crouching in close quarters for an undetermined amount of time, but we did it to be prepared. When I started teaching in 1978, we only had fire, tornado, and maybe earthquake drills.
Code Red drills came after Columbine and other school tragedies. Obviously, the drills were just one of the things that helped last Friday go as smoothly as possible, but what really made the difference was all of the heroes at NCHS. A definition of a hero is a person who displays courage, who in the opinion of others performs an heroic act, and is admired for brave deeds.
I admire my NCHS family, and my thoughts and prayers will be with them in the days ahead.
I’m Camille Taylor for the WJBC Forum.
Camille Taylor, a retired Counselor from Normal Community High School, has been an educator in this community for 34 years. She is active in the community currently serving as a church elder and board member for both the Baby Fold and the YWCA. She has been recognized by the YWCA as a Woman of Distinction for education, a Martin Luther King Jr. award winner for the City of Bloomington, a Distinguished Alumni by the College of Education at Illinois State University, a Human and Civil Rights award winner for the Illinois Education Association, and the H.Councill Trenholm Award recipient from the National Education Association for her work with diversity. She lives in Bloomington with her husband, Arthur, and is a mother and grandmother.
The opinions expressed within WJBC’s Forum are solely those of the Forum’s author, and are not necessarily those of WJBC or Cumulus Media, Inc.