Last night, for the first time in three years or more, I did not attend our PTO meeting at the Fitzgerald. As the immediate past-president, I felt a little like I did when I left my kids at a party for the first time: my dear friends on the Board -- people I recruited! -- would have to make it through a meeting without me.
I know that they did just fine because, after the meeting, they sent some text-abuse from John Brewer's, our traditional post-PTO gathering spot.
I didn't go last night because I have some work-related stuff going on that has been giving me agita and because ALICE was on the agenda. Again. And I am still all ALICEd-out from last year.
In case you don't remember, ALICE is the response system to an armed intruder that Waltham is implementing. I wrote about it in the Patch last year. So, this was a follow-up meeting to the implementation. After the Citywide PTO meeting last year, the Safety Resource Officers (Hooray! SRO's!) came to a PTO meeting at EVERY school in Waltham and parents participated in a mock drill. Even some of our crossing guards attended the meeting at the Fitz. We sat in a Kindergarten classroom in those little chairs and then acted out what we would do if an armed intruder came to the door.
Thinking about it right now, I think that I may throw up.
I also remember that several Waltham gun owners posted comments -- thoughtful comments -- on the Patch, and gave an overview of what is necessary to get a licensed firearm in the Commonwealth. It was enlightening: it's hard to get an actual licensed gun here.
The problem is that it's too easy to get an unlicensed gun. The Waltham PD recently had a gun buy-back program and 50 guns were turned in. Also, two guys showed up holding a sign that said "Will buy guns and ammo." They were sent on their way, and yet, I am guessing that they can buy guns and ammo at other venues. And then re-sell them to gangbangers and drug dealers who can use them to kill teenagers in a Waltham neighborhood.
Anyway, I'm getting off track. After the ALICE meetings last year, a parent said to me, "We prepare our kids for a fire at the school with a fire drill, even though the school will probably never catch on fire. So we should prepare them for this, too." And that's good logic, if a bit flawed. Because it seems much more likely that someone will show up with a gun at school than that the school will burst into flames. (gas main explosions notwithstanding.)
Sending kids to school shouldn't require an act of faith.