Lunch is one of the best times of day at Bard High School Early College Baltimore. The entire schools eats on the same lunch shift. Teachers open up their rooms for History Movie Club, Anime Club, or just to chat with students. In the cafeteria, freshmen play video games with seniors, while members of the mock trial and debate teams plot their next moves.
The lunch hour on February 24 was like most others. And then everything started happening in rapid succession: the call from the main office for an administrator. The report of gunfire and speeding cars on the street outside. Calls to city and school police. Calls to the elementary school and the Head Start on our block to make sure they were OK. Then came the report of a person with a gunshot wound at the bottom of the street. The frantic calls from parents on the other side of a police blockade at the top of the street. And at dismissal, every adult we could spare outside, directing students which way to walk so that they wouldn't disturb the active crime scene outside.
I wish I could analyze this. I wish I could draw a conclusion that made any kind of sense. I don't know what else to do on a day like that Monday but keep going. There has been a great deal written and said about how much better the children of Baltimore City deserve, than to wonder about the dangers that lurk outside the schoolhouse door. All of that is true. But in the meantime, while we wait for our students to be the ones to make this city into everything it can be, the adults who serve them on the front lines will remain there, protecting and caring for them every day. Perhaps, in the words of Alice Walker, after a day like February 24, the way forward is with a broken heart. But there's no question, for me and for my colleagues who came right back into work on February 25, that the only way is forward.
Dr. Francesca Gamber is the Principal of Bard High School Early College Baltimore.