GHS students stunned by tragic shooting

Reverberations from the massacre that left as many as 25 dead at a Colorado high school are being felt in Gilroy. Police are stepping up patrols around Gilroy High School and school staff members are making themselves available to help students cope with the tragedy.
GHS Principal Wendy Gudalewicz sent a memo this morning to staff asking them to bring up the shooting during their tutorial period to give students a chance to talk. Counselors have also sent a memo asking teachers to send distraught students to them for counseling.
While events still unfold in Colorado, the GPD has Increased patrols around the high school and will meet with district officials today to discuss any concerns.
“We’re concerned about people’s reaction to the incident, and we’re trying to assure the community that we’re doing what we can,” said Sgt. Don Kludt. “This is something the community would expect of us.”
GIB senior, 17-year-old Griselda Martinez, said the news is a sad reflection on young people today.
“1 think it’s sad to see how the youth is going now,” she said. “1 would be scared to put my kids in public school.”
The killing spree began Tuesday at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., just outside of Denver. Two students, described as part of- a death-obsessed group labeled the “Trench Coat Mafia,” went on a four-hour rampage, shooting students and detonating explosives throughout the school, finally shooting and killing themselves.
Although the general feeling is that the campus is safe, memories still linger at GHS from the day four years ago that 15-year-old Carlos Vaca got in the way of a gang-related fight and was stabbed to death.
Roy Escudero, a 17-year-old unior, knew Vaca and his family and believes that attack had more of an effect on students than the shootings in Colorado.
“It was more related to us, and it was really near,” he said.
The campus was also witness to violence in 1993 when 15-year-old Jason Ryals was shot in the abdomen by a classmate who had been the victim of other students’ taunts and bullying. Unlike Vaca, Ryals survived the attack.
After Vaca’s death, an iron fence was put tip around Gilroy Iligh and its gates are manned throughout the day.
“I don’t really believe that those kinds of incidences are 100 percent preventable,” Gudalewicz said. “We have a fairly safe campus, (and) I think our system would deter a lot of people from doing that. I bet in Littleton, Colorado, they thought their campus was safe.’
Although the killings
occurred two states away, Gilroy High counselors are ready to address students’ concerns.
“Kids do react because they can relate to other high school students,” said counselor Frank Valadez. “Some kids may feel confused, others may be fearful, others may sympathize with the families. I think the important thing is to let them talk about their concerns and guide them through that.”
Gilroy High has its problems, according to some students, but they do not see the sort of carnage that rocked the affluent, suburban high school in Colorado happening here.
“1 think people hate this school, but they don’t hate it that much,” said Corine Pierce, a 15-year-old freshman whose uncle is a police officer in Colorado and working on the case. Beginning this year, the police department has assigned a full-time police officer to Gilroy Iniliud schools, and that has helped some, but it has not gotten rid of all problems, according to Escudero, who said that students may still bring weapons, such as knives to campus, but not guns.
“There are still problems on campus,” he said. “There’s always going to be gangs; there’s always going to be people causing trouble.”
“People from Gilroy, they just talk a lot about each other,” Martinez added. “Some of the gangsters here get pretty crazy, (but) it’s not a constant thing. it’s not every day.”
The two Colorado students were part of a group considered outcasts on their campus, but gave no warning that they would snap. Students at Gilroy High are being asked to come forward if they have concerns about potentially violent tendencies of any other students. Also, counselor Karen Cyris will tape an MTV special called “Warning Signs,” to be aired April 27, that helps teens identify signs of violent behavior in students and plans to use that for peer counselors, according to Gudalewicz.
In the past two years, at least six other schools in the nation have seen fatal shootings, mostly at rural and suburban schools.
“It never happened at schools people would consider ‘bad’ schools,” Gudalewicz said.
Students, even if somewhat desensitized to school violence, still were surprised by news of the attack.
“At first, when I heard it, I thought, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal,”‘ Escudero said. “Then I heard how many people died.”
Pierce holds the Colorado students’ parents responsible.
“I think it’s more the way their parents brought them up,” she said. “I think it’s mostly their parents’ fault.”

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