SSHS poll shows students fear mass shooting could happen on Guam

Simon Sanchez High School (PNC file photo)

Guam – In the wake of the massacre of 17 Florida high school students, the topic of gun control and the call for sweeping reforms has been dominating headlines across the nation. While Guam is fortunate to not have seen any mass shootings in our schools, we reached out to a couple of teachers to get their and their students sentiments on the gun debate.

The Valentine’s Day massacre of 17 high school students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has gripped the nation as it tries to make sense of the senseless school shooting. While that may seem like an abstract topic given Florida’s distance both physically and politically from Guam, there is still a sense of fear among some high schoolers.

Simon Sanchez High School history teacher Jim Healy surveyed his students days after the Florida mass shooting. His question was, “In light of the most recent school shooting in Florida, do you worry that something like that could happen at our school?”

While only 114 students participated in the survey, made up of mostly juniors, the results are staggering and could provide a glimpse into the high school climate.

Ninety students answered yes, they worry about a shooting at their school while 24 answered no.

Meanwhile, we spoke with another Sanchez High teacher, Audrey Mandapat, who offered her opinion on President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers.

“I’m not a fan of guns, but if people who are licensed and have guns through the proper channels to own it, then that’s their prerogative, but arming teachers, I don’t believe that’s necessary. We have professional people that are on campus, we have our [school resource officers] who are trained in this but yet they don’t carry guns,” Mandapat pointed out. “If you were to arm teachers with a gun, I mean, what if a kid who … is troubled could easily reach for a gun. If we provide access to it, then we’re not really solving a problem.”

Mandapat, who has participated in a number of active shooter drills, says she feels she is prepared to defend against an active shooter, however, she also points out that the physical structure of some public schools may make it easier for a mass shooter to breach the campus.

“Part of the training, it’s called an ‘ultimate killing zone.’ So throughout the studies, whoever is an active shooter their goal is to kill as many people in as little time as possible. So you have schools like Sanchez that, the main building you have no windows, and all of the classrooms connect to each other so if you were to enter one classroom you have access to the other one through the door,” noted Mandapat.

According to Mandapat, this is what the instructors and trainers have conveyed to her and other Guam Department of Education officials.

“But what they were telling us about the active shooter training was, which was really helpful, we’re supposed to barricade the doors and we’ve been doing maybe one or two active training drills once a year so the kids are up to date with what they need to do,” said Mandapat.