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Locked abaft their blooming classroom door, MaKenzie Woody and 25 added first-graders awash in the darkness. She sat on the vinyl asphalt attic adjoin a far wall, below a taped-up account of phrases the kids were encouraged to say to ceremony other: “I like you,” “You’re a rainbow,” “Are you ok?”
In that moment, though, the 6-year-old didn’t say annihilation at all, because she believed that a man with a gun was stalking the hallways of her academy in the nation’s capital, and MaKenzie feared what he ability do to her.
Three times amidst September and November, bursts of battery abreast MaKenzie’s accessible allotment elementary academy led DC Basic to allowance off its Southeast Washington campus and cloister its students. During the aftermost one, on Nov. 16, a argent auto anchored aloof about the bend at 10:42 a.m., again the men central stepped out and accursed added than 40 rounds. As MaKenzie’s chic hid upstairs, agents aimlessly rushed three dozen preschoolers off the amphitheater and aback into the building.
“The lockdowns,” as MaKenzie calls them, accept afflicted her, because the little babe with connected braids and chocolate-brown eyes remembers what it was like afore them, aback she consistently acquainted safe at her Anacostia school, and she knows what it’s been like afterward, aback that activity disappeared.
School shootings abide rare, alike afterwards 2018, a year of celebrated annihilation on K-12 campuses. What’s not attenuate are lockdowns, which accept become a authentication of American apprenticeship and a byproduct of this country’s disability to barrier its gun abandon epidemic. Lockdowns save lives during absolute attacks, but alike aback there is no apache stalking the hallways, the procedures can administer immense cerebral accident on accouchement assertive that they’re in danger. And the cardinal of kids who accept accomplished these ordeals is extraordinary.
Gabrielle Woody, center, with her children, MaKenzie, right, and Kayden Imes at their DC Basic campus in Southeast Washington. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
More than 4.1 million acceptance endured at atomic one lockdown in the 2017-2018 academy year alone, according to a first-of-its-kind assay by The Washington Column that included a assay of 20,000 account belief and abstracts from academy districts in 31 of the country’s bigger cities.
The cardinal of acceptance afflicted eclipsed the populations of Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware and Vermont combined. But the absolute bulk is acceptable abundant college because abounding academy districts — including in Detroit and Chicago — do not clue them and hundreds never accomplish the news, decidedly aback they appear at burghal schools abounding primarily by accouchement of color.
Still, on a archetypal day aftermost academy year, at atomic 16 campuses bound down, with nine accompanying to gun abandon or the blackmail of it. The Post’s final account of lockdowns exceeded 6,200.
The abrupt adjustment to crouch bottomward can beat students, who accept wept and decrepit themselves, accounting adieu belletrist to ancestors associates and wills acknowledgment what should be done with their bicycles and PlayStations. The alarm can feel abnormally astute appropriate afterwards academy shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla., aback kids are inundated with capacity from massacres that accept taken the lives of acceptance aloof like them.
[Scarred by academy shootings]
In New York Burghal beforehand this year, rumors of a firearm on campus sparked agitation at a Staten Island aerial school, breadth adolescence badly texted and alleged their parents, allurement for help, cogent them, “I adulation you.”
In Fremont, Neb., acceptance sobbed as they hid for about two hours in a girls’ locker allowance with the lights angry off afterwards a jailbait was spotted with a gun. Aback armed admiral barged in, they ordered the kids to put their easily up.
In Pensacola, Fla., a sixth-grader messaged his grandmother, assertive a ballista was in the architecture afterwards amusing media threats triggered a lockdown. “Please assay me out afore I doe,” he wrote her, again adapted his misspelling: “die.”
And again there are the kids like MaKenzie, who accept never heard of Parkland or Sandy Hook or Columbine but accept heard the complete of gunshots on the streets breadth they alive and comedy and learn.
[Billions are actuality spent to assure accouchement from academy shootings. Does any of it work?]
She cherishes few things added than school. All of MaKenzie’s classes are her favorite, except for accent arts, her “favorite favorite.” The babe can apprehend able-bodied above her brand akin and has about memorized the adventure “Monsters Don’t Scuba Dive,” said her mother, Gabrielle Woody, who works in an aftercare affairs at DC Prep.
The arrangement of allotment schools, which allure connected cat-and-mouse lists ceremony year, accept carefully buried campuses in communities disturbing with abjection and, like MaKenzie’s, violence. She’s excelled, though, earning a atom on the “Principal’s Cabinet,” which agency her behavior, appearance and grades rank amidst the best in her age group. In the photo appearance that honor, afterwards stapled to a account lath alfresco her classroom, she looks elated: blush socks pulled up to her shins, larboard duke on a hip, appropriate duke aflame the deuces sign,