Time for a national conversation
Mark Matuska was attending a training event in Nashville when he learned about America’s latest school shooting.
A young man named Nikolas Cruz is charged with killing 17 students and injuring 14 more on Feb. 14 at his former high school in Parkland, Fla.
It’s happening again and again. Mass casualties. Survivors filing out of schools, their hands in the air. Distraught students, families, lawmakers and activists, demanding that something - anything - be done to try and stop the violence.
Matuska, superintendent of the Kasson-Mantorville schools, provides a calm voice in the storm.
“My heart goes out to the students first,” he says. “Not just to the students who perished, but an awful lot of students who had to go through that entire ordeal and watch their friends lose their lives, and a lot of others hurt, and then have to come back to school there, a week or 10 days later.
“You also think about the families. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. You’re not supposed to bury your children. Children are supposed to bury their parents. That’s way too young, with way too many dreams left for some of these kids, to have that taken away.”
Matuska spoke with others in Nashville regarding the need to try and intervene with mental health counseling for those who may appear to be at a tipping point.
Cruz, Matuska says, was probably often victimized himself, which eventually led the young man to the edge.
“If we can focus on that mental health and we as educators can continue to be that person for all the kids in our school and continue to work on building relationships and continue to make these kids our highest priority, as we do here at Kasson-Mantorville, lots of great things can happen,” he says. “But when one of those kids doesn’t get that attention, we have to find strategies, not only to help him, but to try to help his family out in the community and try to get as many resources to those kids and those families as we can.”
Finally, the conversation in Nashville turned to gun legislation, perhaps the nation’s most divisive issue.
“That seemed to be a real popular topic that polarized a lot of individuals,” Matuska says. “But you quickly found out whether they leaned to the left or leaned to the right. That conversation won’t stop in our very near future. Arming other teachers or continuing to arm people besides our liason officer - or not - that debate will continue, and that’s something we’ll talk about as a school board, we’ll talk about it as a community, and our administrative team is already talking about things like that.”
Please, let the shouting stop and the thoughtful conversations - and the healing - begin.
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Thanks for reading. Hope all’s well.
God bless us, every one.