Lawndale students react

By Diane Tran, 14, Lawndale HS
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Photo by Managing Editor Libby Hartigan

The news was shocking: on March 14, 2003 one student from Lawndale High and his cousin, who attends a nearby middle school, were arrested for allegedly making threats to blow up a homemade bomb on campus as a way to recognize the anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Detectives found a book with a list of names of students and teachers the boys wanted to attack, according to newspaper reports. And police said they also found an unfinished pipe bomb with downloaded instructions from the Internet in the home of the Lawndale student. However, the pipe bomb was not finished because the instructions were wrong. Both students were taken to Juvenile Hall and are now facing charges.

As a student at Lawndale High I feel sad this happened. When I heard about Columbine—where two students went on a shooting rampage and killed 1 teacher and 12 students back on April 20, 1999—I thought it was terrible, but I never thought it would happen at a high school I was going to.

The Lawndale student had lots of friends, including me, and most of us knew he was interested in the Columbine shooting. We heard him talk about it pretty often. Maybe he liked the fact that they actually pulled off such a horrible plan and no one expected it. It might have been normal to think about it from time to time but not to ramble on and have pictures of the incident on his folder. But no one ever thought he was home actually building the pipe bomb and making a list, as the police said in the newspaper.

Although I was friends with the student, I never knew anything might be wrong. When I found out that he had an interest in Columbine, I thought it was no big deal because people have interests in strange things all the time. Many of his friends suspected that something might be wrong, though. One day he would be all nice and cool, but the next he was like "I don’t care anymore" and depressed. When he was in a happy mood he would talk to his friends and if you saw him and just said "hi" he would say "where is my hug?" and hug you. When he was in a bad mood he would isolate himself from our big group of friends. When you went up to him to say something or try to help him all he would say is: "I hate this school, I don’t care anymore." Then he would just go sit by himself during lunch.

His lawyer claims that the teasing, which a campus security guard allegedly joined in on, and bullying hurt him badly, according to the newspaper. Maybe he had more issues that we didn’t really know about and the teasing didn’t really help. When I say teasing I mean it in the way when you joke around with your friends. But when you joke around, you don’t know if the person is in the mood. And just maybe when they did that to him it made him feel more mad or depressed. Because I know if I was having a bad day I wouldn’t want people to play around with me. Although I wasn’t really close to him, occasionally I would say hi or poke fun at him. I regret not going up to him more and saying "How are you?" or trying to help him if something was wrong.

Another thing that really bothered me was that the students and teachers found out about the arrests from the television or newspaper, not the school. It seems like the administrators really didn’t care about us. To make things worse we found out several weeks after the guys were arrested. It makes us think, "if they kept this away from us, what else could they be keeping secret?" The way that I would have wanted to find out was from the school administrators. They could have called a big assembly where they could have told us about what was going on, or at least they could have sent a letter home before we heard it from the media. Eventually the school sent a letter to parents.

One last thing that many people, including myself, are mad about is that there has been a lot of false information given out to the media and school. For example, students that didn’t even know him at all are speaking to the media just to be famous for a few seconds, I am sure that they didn’t even know his name or what he looked like.

Life at Lawndale High is back to normal now. I think everyone has already forgotten about the incident already. Everyone is actually back to worrying about tests and homework. Occasionally people bring up the incident, but now it’s old news.