For every parent, every kid old enough to know, every educator — it’s the worst news. Our hearts are crushed for the kids, the families, the staff of STEM School. We know this school. They are our friends, and our friendly competition at the annual B.E.S.T. Robotics competition each fall. Three years ago, their high schoolers invited our middle schoolers to join their travel bus as our teams qualified to represent Colorado at the regional robotics competition in Fort Smith, Ark. It was a grand trip for our kids, and those STEM high school kids and their team sponsors were so kind and nice. Every year when we see them at competition they are energetic, fun, and smart. This hurts.
As a school principal, I have to confess: a middle school boy has made me lose it. It was after an evacuation drill, and he was that kid. That kid, who made me and everyone else work harder to reach him, to guide him, to motivate him to get his work done and behave himself. That kid, with a knack for arguing like no one else. That kid had the nerve to come into my office after a drill last year, and tell me how upset he was — because he thought there were several ways the drill could be better, safer, more effective. Once we clarified the drill and how we would use it, he was fine. And he told me, “Mrs. M., I hope you know that I would be the first to help the little kids out of the building. I’d be there to help, Mrs. M., if I heard gun shots or something.” And he would. That kid would probably be the first one to try to carry me if I fell and broke an ankle, probably cracking jokes the whole time.
That kid shouldn’t be worrying about being a first responder. So I thanked him and I kicked him out of my office before I lost it, for a minute. Because then I had to talk to another kid, who didn’t take the drill as seriously as he should have; shame on him for daring to whisper at the wrong times.
That kid, all of our STEM School kids in Highlands Ranch, every kid, shouldn’t be suffering like this, and worrying about these things.
Kids in every school in our school, our district, our region, our state, our country, they are our kids. We have to get serious about no more.
One simple request, while we work on all the other strategies that we need: please volunteer. Please make time to volunteer in local schools to sit and read with kids, to be mentors, to garden, to share stories from your childhood and listen to their stories.
They need audiences for their writing, and their plays, performances, and sports games — for all kinds of sports, not just the typical ones. They need to see and connect to a community of adults and feel that all kids with all interests are valued in our community.
The educators around you… We’re dealing with a lot. We are at the front lines for mental health issues, trauma in kids’ lives, poverty interventions, and oh, yes — all the academic subjects. Trying to find and connect volunteers is a lot of extra work: we would love it if we could have a long list ready and waiting. We need our community and our local businesses to wrap around our kids.
To our Friends in Highlands Ranch — we hurt with you and we hurt for you. We wish you all the strength and grace that you will need in these coming days.
From Mrs. Myers and Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning, and all of the educators, family, and community members here in the Pikes Peak Region who are thinking of you: We stand for our friends at STEM School.
Nikki Myers, “Mrs. M.” is the director of the Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning.