Tucson shootings prompt reflection, discussion in E.V. schools - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Tucson shootings prompt reflection, discussion in E.V. schools

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Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 8:00 am | Updated: 4:08 pm, Wed Dec 3, 2014.

The Tucson shootings that killed six people and left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition prompted moments of reflection and discussion in East Valley schools on Monday.

During an American history class at Chandler's Basha High School, 25 juniors watched a tape of the media coverage of Saturday's rampage. Teacher Charles Johnson asked the students to reflect on the political picture in the state.

Some students said the violent incident may paint Arizona as an "unsafe environment" that "lacks credibility."

The events may show "we're a closed-minded society," said Brandon Detra.

But Cody Fuller said he believes the rest of the country will recognize this event was perpetrated by one person.

"It's just one person," he said. "That's a big leap," to think of the whole state as political radicals.

Students across Arizona returned to their classrooms Monday even as news about the shootings, Giffords' condition, and speculation about the suspected shooter's motivation continued to develop. At 9 a.m., they took part in President Obama's call for a national moment of silence.

For one minute, students in Gina Kelly's fifth-grade class at Gilbert's Pioneer Elementary School closed their books and bowed their heads to remember and reflect on the victims of Saturday's shootings. Six people were killed and 14 were injured during the assassination attempt on Giffords, D-Ariz.

Pioneer principal Mike Davis had informed the students of the moment of silence just after the school day started about 8:40 a.m., during the morning announcements.

"On Saturday, Jan. 8, a senseless act of violence was perpetrated in Tucson," Davis said. "This is a time to come together in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families close to our hearts."

Kelly said she spent a few minutes prior to the moment of silence giving students the facts about the Tucson shooting. Many had not heard about it, she said.

Davis said he asked staff to talk to the kids at an age-appropriate level and to limit the message to the facts that are known.

Students were also told if they had questions or wanted to talk to someone, to let their teachers know. Kelly said a school counselor would be available for anyone who wanted to talk.

In the Mesa Unified School District, a lot of the conversations about the shooting were centered at the high schools, said spokeswoman Kathy Bareiss.

"Because of the timing, parents were able to be that first contact with the children and address it in a way the family would want them to. That was helpful for the children to have that access to mom and dad" over the weekend, Bareiss said.

At Chandler's Basha High, history teacher Johnson had the students discuss the shootings as part of their studies on politics in the 1900s. He asked them how their parents would react if they decided to join a political party opposite of their mom's or dad's affiliation.

A majority of the students said their parents would accept their decisions, and that most people are accepting of each other's differences.

"People make it more serious than what it is. We're all one country. We're all going to have different views," Keenan Garland said.

Leah Boken said she was glad the class talked about the Tucson events and agreed with Garland.

"I don't think we're that politically divided. Everyone is going to have different views, but only some people pay attention to what political party (the speaker) is from," she said.

Media coverage has shown the suspected shooter, Jared Loughner, 22, making several rambling online videos decrying his mistrust and paranoia of the government. Friends and classmates of his have reported seeing those videos and other troubling behavior prior to the shootings.

Boken said most people don't take threats they see online seriously.

"They don't think they're going to take action on what they're saying so they don't tell someone," she said. "Usually people say stuff they don't mean."

Basha students who use social media forums, such as Facebook, said only a few of their friends made comments about Saturday's shooting.

"You stop and read it and think about it, but I'm not going to lie, you look over it," said Stephon Varlow, 16. "I think kids overlook it because they're not as involved as they should be."



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