Harrisburg schools open up dialogue about safety


If March For Our Lives taught the world anything, it’s that school safety is a pressing issue for young people today. 

On Monday, the Harrisburg School District went beyond physical safety and had a community discussion about overall student well-being. 

The 2018 reality for grade-school students is fear — fear that their school might be the next face of the next tragedy. 

“Very nervous, I am very nervous sometimes because you never know when it’s your school that will be picked to be shot,” said Nahzir Dunbar and Kamal Washington, Cougar Academy students. 

Harrisburg held a forum to explain how the school currently deals with security, mental health, and bullying. It sought ideas on ways to improve. 

“If students feel safe and they believe that they’re safe, not only physically but also emotionally, then we know that we’ve done our very best,” said Jaimie Foster, the district’s chief academic officer.

Following in the footsteps of the Parkland activists, plenty of young people showed up without being forced by mom or dad. 

“They’re in these schools, various schools throughout the city, and they should be aware of what’s going on and share their voice so they can have an understanding and share it among their peers,” said Melisa Burnett of the Left Out Organization Program. 

But for residents like Enoch McKnight, who lives across from Camp Curtin, the meeting put a spotlight on dangers outside of school. 

“A lot of times, I’ll just go out and break up the fight, so this one kid, he was carrying a knife, so I took the knife from him,” McKnight said. 

McKnight served several years in prison but now works as a pastor. He asked the school district to support a grassroots movement of men who know how to reach kids heading down a wrong path. 

“You can’t conquer anything you can’t confront, and a lot of times, we wanna sit in an office all day, and although that is necessary, we have to do more than that. We have to go out and meet people face to face. We have to go knock on some doors. We have to be like, ‘you know what brother — or sister –don’t make this decision,” McKnight said. 

During the meeting, the school district announced that Harrisburg students will be participating in National Walk Out Day on April 20.

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