The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


Stop, drop and think

Photos by Leah Slates made using Canva.
A black background with an image of a school building plastered in the center with the description written in bold, red letters.

It starts with a loud sound followed by a running, screaming crowd. The brain automatically says ‘Run. Follow the crowd. I don’t know where we’re going, but just go.” This is the fight or flight sense kicking in. Next, you find those who are faster, pushing the slower people out of the way. Someone loses their balance. That person falls to the ground, getting covered in merciless feet. That person gets trampled. That person dies. Not by the fate of the shooter, but by panic. 

The emotions consuming an individual involved in a situation where you fear for your life, or the life of those around you, are emotions that pound at your head and heart as you pray that a bullet does not pound through your body. 

The irony is crazy as I was writing this. I had only been in one mall shooting when I started this article. As I was in the middle of writing this, I encountered my second potential shooting experience, which happened to be at school.  I had a different angle for this article before the second shooting. I was going to talk about my experience, how scary it was, how bad the fear was, but instead I am writing about panic and how keeping your head in the game could save lives. 

I understand that as humans we have emotions that act fast upon extraneous situations. However, this should be reason enough for us to train our brains to evaluate the situation before allowing fear to consume us.

In the “mall shooting,” it was a false alarm. People heard loud noises inspired from a fight that broke out in the food court and lost their minds. There was no gun involved, but what is more important is it that everyone thought there was.

I was in Yankee Candle, shopping with a group of friends. I turned around to see the horror on people’s faces as they screamed and ran past the store. Next thing I knew, everyone in the store was crouching behind the corner as one of the workers locked the door. 

“It was an adrenaline rush. When we crouched behind the counter, I was in a state of shock. After seeing them run by, it started to set in. My heart was in my throat. I thought I was going to die,” said Ashley Barhkau, junior at Athens Drive high school. 

After about five minutes, the workers had called their manager, asking if it was alright to let us into the storage room in the back of the store. The manager agreed and we all moved to hide in the storage room. Several customers were crying and calling or texting loved ones. It was a heart-dropping feeling to be hiding in a storage room thinking you could get a bullet through your head at any moment. Or worse, a bullet through the head of someone you love. 

“I was feeling very confused and overwhelmed about what was going on. We didn’t know if it was a real threat or a false alarm,” said Linsey Whorton, junior at Athens Drive high school. 

After about 35 minutes, the mall announced that it was safe to leave the building, and my friends and I got out of there. We were stuck in the parking lot for 40 minutes due to how backed-up it was from everyone trying to leave all at once. 

“It was definitely scary being in a situation that I’ve seen on television. I never thought I would actually experience it in real life,” said Aubrey Word, junior at Athens Drive high school. 

In the school shooting, there was a real gun. Shots were fired a few yards away from campus. Due to the close proximity, many students heard them and either fled off campus or into the school if they were outside. Several people inside also heard the shots and mass panic broke out. Both students and teachers flooded the hallways, teachers were trying to direct students out of the cafeteria into the hallways to try to get into classrooms.  Several people got hurt. How? Not by a gun, but by panic. People were trampled by the incessant individuals who knew very little of where they were running. The danger could be mere feet away from them and they would not know. 

You might be asking yourself “Then what am I supposed to do then, huh?” There are several safety tips you can follow that may save your life one day.

1. Evaluate the environment. 

Which direction did you hear the danger originate from? Try to tone out the chaos from the crowd. I understand how easy it is to let others’ emotions contaminate your own emotions. It is a challenge, but it can be accomplishable. Use the materials around you. 

What can you use to your advantage? If you are outside, put yourself between at least three cars and the threat. A gun can pass through the first car, but it will not reach the third car. If you are in a classroom, ask peers to help you push the teacher’s desk against the door. Or at least use a chair. 

2. Locate last resort escape routes and prepare to move.

Are you near a window? Stay as close to the window as possible. Do not sit with your butt on the floor. Prop yourself on your hands and knees so you can stay low, but in a position where you can get up and move quickly. 

3. Think.

I am being serious when I say this is challenging. It is easy to get wrapped up in the fear of the situation. You can think logically and be scared at the same time. I am not advising you not to be scared, I am advising you to use your mind. Do not let your fear overpower your logic. 


In both situations, I was terrified– terrified to the point I was shaking an excessive amount. An expression of fear was plastered across my face. Although I was scared, my mind was focused on different scenarios for the situation, preparing myself for anything. 

I am giving all this advice, yet I feel like I could have taken my own advice better in those previous situations. I admit that it is difficult to not get caught up in the hassle, but this has taught me lessons. I can share these lessons with others to prepare them for this type of situation because we live in a society where being involved in a shooting up is not uncommon. It is not rare to hear about a new location that got shot up, whether it be a school, mall, restaurant, neighborhood, concert, religious buildings, parade or park. 

It happens to real people. You never think it will happen to you until it does.

I have been in this situation twice and I thank God often that he has allowed me to continue living, but you know what they say, ‘third times a charm.’

For more information about gun violence in schools, check out this article by Abagail Bissett: Rise in gun violence cause for concern.

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