The following is an op-ed piece by In Our Opinion’s Sarah Steindl. All viewpoints and opinions expressed are solely that of the credited author.
Nearly a month ago, on Tuesday, February, 14th, Glenbrook North High School submitted to a campus-wide lockdown after an anonymous bomb threat around 1 PM. The call was made by a 59-year old man, who the Northbrook police claim still has no specific motive. Although, thankfully, the students at GBN are safe, this event begs an interesting question: Are our schools on the North Shore really as safe as we presume?
The stereotype of a “good” student going to a well-funded, reputable school at times creates a facade for their identity as a student. Of course, what develops the “good” in the phrase “good student”? This moniker could potentially derive from involvement, academic potential, or simply the fact that they go to a safe, high-achieving school and have every chance to succeed in an environment that is conducive to success.
It is no secret that many kids don’t have to worry about their safety at home. The high schools on the North Shore are generally located in communities with low crime rates and little dangerous activity on a day-to-day basis. Thus, their safety at school kind of becomes an afterthought. This, unfortunately, leads to us simply thinking our schools are safe without considering the potential danger from any threats.
It is hard at times to see through the masquerade of opportunities, talented athletes, AP classes, high graduation rates and ACT scores that schools along the North Shore produce so consistently. We are swarmed by the positive and often distracted from the hidden reality–that although our schools go through reasonable lengths to assure our safety, there is no 100% guarantee. At any school, in any place. Even the North Shore.
Potentially dangerous situations can be anywhere at any time, as evidenced by the recent events at GBN. There are many serious hazards right outside of our suburban shelters and potentially even within them. Much of the world is like this, which is no mystery to us citizens of the North Shore, but rather something that is easily negligible.
The bubble perception of Lake Forest is one that can be taken into account here. We hear Lake Forest referred to as “the bubble” on a day-to-day basis, sometimes implying aspects of monotony, privilege, and other facets that yield a feeling of unmitigated safety. Out of all of the aforementioned sentiments listed, the true connotation of “the bubble” to me has always been safety. Being safe allows us to be happier. Lake Forest doesn’t confine to the “bubble theory,” which is a constantly debated topic. Well, along the same thread, the North Shore doesn’t confine to being a safe environment under all circumstances. We, like everyone else, are at times susceptible to danger.
It is absolutely true that Lake Forest is a safe community to reside in–relatively speaking–which can be said for the rest of the North Shore communities as well. According to the CLIMATE community survey of Lake Forest from 2015, the safety of the community was ranked excellent by 72% of the voters.
If something unsafe were to present itself in our community, people and the community would be shell-shocked. Common dangerous behaviors that take place in some urban schools–like fighting, for example–rarely happen at LFHS. These occurrences are simply such a rarity, adding to the “good student” identity that represents North Shore schools.
New precautions and changes come from the cleanup of threatening, or perhaps harmful, experiences. For now, there is little in place to stop an event like that of at GBN from happening at LFHS naturally because of the scarcity of these occurrences. But that certainly doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.
As evidence, we look at places like Sandy Hook, CT and Columbine, CO. Both places were considered safe, residential communities before the ghastly, unfathomable tragedies shook each town to its core.
In light of just the recent threat of danger at GBN, I feel that it is crucial to be mindful of all of the safety resources that the school has to offer. Of course, it is not only important to be aware yourself, but hold your classmates accountable for the standard of safety that we all deserve. If you see anything worth considering again, don’t neglect the thought. This is why certain areas and entrances of the school are locked; this is why the new sign-in procedure is more thorough; this is why we employ security guards and have safety drills. If necessary, speak up to the school staff–they are the ones equipped to handle any of these situations. As far off and up-tight as these ideas may seem, I encourage you to be conscious of these circumstances and the ways that we can maintain the safety of Lake Forest, for it is something that we should never take for granted.