It is tradition at Arapahoe High School for the Singers to carol the hallways during 5th period on the last day before the winter semester’s finals week. They had just finished a song and were beginning the next when gunshots silenced their singing.
“Double time to the choir room now,” Ms. Parmenter, their director, shouted.
In full caroling regalia, they scrambled back to the choir room and hurried into the dressing room, where they locked the door, turned off the lights, and sat in an uncomfortable quiet broken by indiscernible shouting in the outside halls and the sniffles of their terrified peers. Knowing only that shots had been fired and that the school was in a hard lockdown, they sat and waited in that cheerless room which, only moments before, had rung with, “May your days be merry and bright.”
I received this text from my mom at about that time: “Shooting at ahs. Have not heard from Daniel. Prayers are needed.” I stopped in my tracks on my way to the principal’s office, suddenly unconcerned about whatever errand brought me there. I returned to my room and knelt behind my desk to pray. “Father, please bless Daniel. Protect him from harm.” I quickly searched the web for news on the shooting at my alma mater. All the sites simply reported “breaking news” that a shooting had occurred and that two students were confirmed to be injured. Horrible still, but the terror subsided somewhat when I learned there were no deaths.
And I soon received word that my little brother was unharmed.
There was only one death that day. The shooter killed himself. One other student was severely injured and hospitalized in critical condition, but no one else was seriously wounded. While there was sweet relief for the many reunited parents and children, the families of those two will have to wade through deep anguish in the coming days and weeks. My prayers are now full of gratitude for my family and my brother’s safety, of hope for the wounded student’s healing, and of sorrow for the family of the shooter. I cannot imagine how they will pass the holidays this year.
I will return home to Centennial in one week. I will drive past Arapahoe High School multiple times while I’m there—it’s only a few minutes from our house, and it is situated at the intersection of two significant local roads. My hometown will be scarred by this event, and that will be very perceptible while I’m there.
That will be the backdrop for us this Christmas: The song of “peace on earth, good will to men” mocked and muted by a confusing act of malevolence. But the song will not be silenced long. The Singers will gather again, and, once again in their knickers, scarfs, mittens, and sweaters, perform their carols. My family will go caroling too. And little by little, harmony will replace discord, and someday, I believe, “the whole world [will] send back the song which now the angels sing.” I yearn for that day more poignantly than ever.