ALICE

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

This is not a fun post. It is sad and scary. You may want to skip it. Fair warning.

Today I went to a teacher training, but we were not learning how to teach. Our wonderful trainer, Kelly Hendrix, vice principal at Mission Park School, was teaching us how to keep ourselves and our students alive in the event of an active shooter on campus. Let that sink in for a minute. We have fire and earthquake drills. In Portland there are even volcano drills.

IMG_4485.jpg
Chart showing increasing body counts of shooting. Columbine is near the center of the chart, the Las Vegas shooting is on the far right.

But this….this idea that we must try to outsmart and outrun someone who has come specifically to kill us and our children…this is a whole new level of scary. Also scary is the fact that since most shootings last a total of 5 minutes, law enforcement folks will probably arrive after the shooter is done. We will be on our own for those terrifying moments, needing to think fast and be smart.

ALICE stands for alert, lock down, inform, counter, and evacuate, which are the steps (not necessarily in that order) that are encouraged in this training. Before, our directions have been limited to “lock the door, turn off the lights, get under the desks”. Then people noticed that in many mass shootings, there were a lot of dead people under desks. So, then what?

ALICE acknowledges that there are no easy answers and that every single situation, even room to room within a school, will be different. Hiding, if necessary,  is best done behind a well-barricaded door, and children should be spread out in different parts of the room, not a dog pile, so they will be able to get up and move if it becomes possible to evacuate or necessary to fight.

Yes, fight. If you cannot get out of your room and the shooter is in there with you and your students, ALICE encourages you to know your resources and act fast. Things to throw, to distract a shooter and keep him from aiming. The kids can help by screaming like banshees or, my favorite technique, “swarming”, where everyone grabs a piece of the shooter and hangs on for dear life.  Scary, yes, but better than sitting still and waiting to be shot. Besides, the image of 26 kinder-babies bringing down a psycho is very satisfying to my imagination.

IMG_4488.jpg
The OODA Loop shows the mental processes a shooter (or anyone) goes through to make a decision. Disrupt this, and you can slow a shooter down for a few critical seconds.

The last part of our training was acting out scenarios in which Kelly and her head custodian Gumaro, played the part of the shooters, armed with Nerf guns. We teachers played teachers and students and had beanbags and squishy balls with which to retaliate. Depending on where our class was when we became aware of the incident, some of us ran, confronted the shooter, or barricaded the door. One group was so well hidden we didn’t realize they were still in there! But even in our state of readiness, we had a few “casualties”.

img_4496.jpg
Kelly Hendrix, our trainer

By the end of the morning we were all exhausted, hyper-adrenalized (if that’s even a word) and a bit sadder and wiser. I feel it was the most important training I have received in 30 years of teaching, because all our work goes nowhere if our students are dead.

And that’s the reality of it. Sorry for the sad story.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Adventure to Valentines

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Liza Olga Judy off to adventure.jpg
Three Adventurers!

Sunday was another long walk and adventure, but this time your Mommy came with us! We packed salami, cheese, apples and crackers, along with plenty of water, and walked down West Acacia. We showed your mommy where the fairies live by the big rock and the nice benches at Mission Park School.

fairy home bush with bells.jpg
Where the fairies live (notice their bells!)

We walked all the way to South Main Street, then turned right and walked to the MYO Frozen Yogurt shop, where we met our dear friends George and Mimi Niesen for treats and conversation. It is always good to talk to these lovely folks; they are busy doing such interesting things!

When we had finished our yogurt, we walked to George and Mimi’s house. In their front yard was the box of succulents Auntie Bridgett gave Mimi when we moved to Portland last year, and they are still growing well! Nice to see they are happy in their new home.

mimis succulent.jpg
Happy succulent

Then we went inside and made Valentine’s Day cards! Mimi had doilies, paper, and all sorts of pretty things to cut and paste, and we had lots of fun.

george .jpg
Delightful George

But the time came, as it always does, where the energy is gone and nap time is calling. We phoned your Daddy who came and fetched us. We thanked our friends, went home, and had naps.

PS. I can’t show the Valentine’s cards…it would ruin the surprise!!

 

 

mimi.jpg
Lovely Mimi

 

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

To the toy store…and beyond!

Dear Liza, (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Sunday started with breakfast with a teacher friend, Vickeye Welch. We met at First Awakenings at the corner of Main and Gabilan and chatted about friends and future plans.

Once I got home,  Liza and I set out on another adventure. She had asked for some beads to make necklaces out of, and with so many local stores closing, The Club House, which is a lovely store that used to be “Educational Stuff” was the only walk-able choice.

We set our sites, packed snacks, and headed off. Knowing it was going to be a long walk, we by-passed our closest park, Hartnell Park. We continued down West Acacia, stopping to rest on the shady benches at Mission Park School.

Liza mission park bench.jpg
Chillin’ at Mission Park

Arriving at The Club House, we shopped. It is a bright and very full store, with lots of wonderful things. It was hard to stay focused! We found a Melissa and Doug wooden bead set that was designed for Liza’s age, and got that. A snack of some cheese sticks and Hawaiian Rolls, and we were raring to go.

The clubhouse .jpg
The Club House

Realizing the library was …..sort of….. on our way home, we walked up Main Street in that direction.

Liza enjoyed getting to climb the wonderfully old California Pepper trees on the front lawn of Salinas High School. A jig-jog through the neighborhood, and we found the John Steinbeck Library.

Liza pepper tree.jpg
Liza and the pepper tree

This is the library I took my kids when they were small, and it is well maintained. There are computers for kids to work and play on, a toy area with kitchen and play food, and of course, books. We checked out Pete the Cat and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear?,  then Liza made me a pretend snack of soup and a sandwich, and we headed off again.

pepper tree.jpg
Full view of pepper tree!

Passing Hartnell College, Liza recognized the home of her new friend, the Panther! So we visited for a while, playing with the long afternoon shadows.

Liza and steinbeck.jpg
Liza and John Steinbeck

As usual, the last leg of the journey was the hardest. The wind picked up and the sun went behind some clouds, and it got cold! We plowed on, stopping for a few minutes at Hartnell Park before trudging the last block home.

liza-me-panther-shadow.jpg
Fun with shadows!

Being in the nice warm house took all our energy away, and we both were asleep very soon. The nap revived us in time for dinner… and I know I’m going to sleep well tonight!

Love,

Grandma Judy