Dean Thomas, Alex Zacarias
Educational Television Productions of Northeast Wisconsin
57 minutes. DVD $195.95 for educational use, $29.95 for home use.
Returning to the scene where a school shooting almost happened, this documentary gathers the original players to explore lessons learned. As a school bus pulls up in front of Green Bay East High School in Wisconsin, Principal Edward Dorff recalls that morning in September 2006. A student, Matt, approached administrators with a disturbing tip: A friend had said he and another boy were planning a “Columbine attack” on the school. Police soon arrived.
Intercut with 2006 footage of police carrying weapons from a house, students and teachers remember their shocked reactions that day. Deft juxtapositions of past and current news clips capture a wide variety of opinions but little consensus among school administrators, teachers, students, parents, psychologists, journalists, police, lawyers and judges about how to prevent and combat violence.
Georgeann Rooney of the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center explains that there is “no one profile” of a school shooter. Counselor and educator Linda Goldman points out East High School’s major difference from the Columbine shootings in 1999: One youth was brave enough to tell what he heard. “At least I saved my friends’ lives,” Matt says.
Now the school’s safety plans include lockdown drills: Lights off, students silently evacuate classrooms, crouching grim-faced in designated safe areas. The camera pans this eerie, frozen scene. Every morning now, students enter by the main door, monitored by a teacher. Other outside doors remain locked.
Is this the way to go? A psychiatrist pinpoints students’ primary mental health problem as anxiety; those in schools with major security measures are the most frightened. A policeman notes that schools with security guards and metal detectors still have shootings.
Only in the film’s final minutes is bullying mentioned as a key factor in school shootings. But anti-bullying measures don’t appear to be part of East High School’s strategies. Guns were confiscated, but gun control isn’t mentioned.
This open-ended film’s varied viewpoints can provoke discussion about how to reduce violence. (970) 465-2412, http://www.anyschoolanytime.com.