9.1.2021 – Our Experience with the Aftermath


Kathleen Hale and Lia Blackard, Editors-In-Chief

As students across the Winston Salem Forsyth County School district arrived at school on September 1st, it seemed like a normal Wednesday. Unfortunately, it turned out to be anything but normal. Around lunchtime, tragedy struck our school system due to a shooting at Mount Tabor High School. Word of the shooting spread quickly through social media, terrifying students across the county. No one would know the details of what had happened until much later. 

There is no question that it was a traumatic day for the students at Tabor, but the effects of it were also felt by the rest of the students in the district. While Mt. Tabor would remain closed for the remainder of the week, the rest of the schools were required to go back the very next day while still grieving the loss of a fellow student. 

The Career Center, where students from schools across the county attend classes, was extremely empathetic toward all of their students during this difficult time. The school provided mental health counselors that were available at the school all day and allowed students to meet with them at any point during class. Every single one of our teachers at the Career Center addressed what had happened and showed us that they not only understood our pain but felt it too. 

Another action they took was limiting our homework or not assigning it at all in order to give students proper time to grieve and process what had happened the day before. This was done because they understood following a tragedy, students tend to have a hard time concentrating. 

Posters made by Career Center teachers were hung around the school showing support for Mt. Tabor and expressing the love they have for their students. It was this kindness and acknowledgment that let students know their teachers cared about their mental health and wellbeing. 

On the other hand, our experience at RJ Reynolds was much different. There was little to no acknowledgement about the incident from our teachers and administrators. Only a handful of teachers were empathetic toward students, and although there were mental health counselors available for students, this information was not as easily accessible and therefore not utilized. Our teachers carried on the day like usual, with normal amounts of homework. All just one day after a tragic incident that occurred less than five miles away. 

While it is true that people grieve in different ways, for some, a sense of normalcy was a way to keep their minds off of the trauma. This is the attitude that RJR took, assuming that pressing forward with the school days as normal would be beneficial for their students’ mental health. But what our school may have failed to consider was that some students needed the time to grieve and were not given this opportunity. Where the response from the Career Center felt empathetic, our experience coming to RJR left us feeling like the administrators and teachers didn’t care about where we were emotionally. While Reynolds made sure we remained on track academically, the Career Center helped us grieve and come together as a community.