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Jan 1, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Courtni Webb, 17, a San Francisco high school senior, at the Life Learning Academy on Treasure Island, was suspended until further notice for a poem she wrote about Adam Lanza and the Newtown, Conn. school massacre. The poem does not express grief for the victims but states she knows what drove the shooter, to pull "the trigger."

Webb's poem says in part, "I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger." She did not turn in the poem as a class assignment, but a teacher "discovered" the poem in the teen's notebook and gave it to the principal.

The New York Daily News reports that Life Learning Academy is a charter school for students who have had challenges at traditional schools or have been involved in the juvenile justice system. The student stated she wrote other poems on suicide and sadness and says it was never an issue.

Webb also says she did not state in the poem that she agrees with what the school shooter did but that she understands it. Her mother, Valerie Statham, says she feels that the school is overreacting, because her daughter has no history of violence, nor did she anyone or herself.

Now the San Francisco Unified School District will decide if Webb's poem was an expression of her feelings or a bonafide threat to fellow students.

Opinion:

The Connecticut school shootings are still raw in the mind of school officials, parents, and students. Just as when the Columbine massacres took place, everyone was on edge, and not only were they nervous and uncertain about what to do, but they were also filled with overwhelming grief.

The teacher's concern is justified. It takes tremendous courage for her and her students to come to school each day. I homeschool my son who is a middle schooler, but if I were sending him to school, the thought would certainly cross my mind, "Is there one (mentally deranged, potential mass murderer) among the children and young teens at my child's school? My concern extends to all children, and I've had the similar thoughts about our neighborhood elementary (K-8th grade in our city) and high schools.

From what I can discern about Courtni Webb in videoed interviews, she's a young lady who may be dealing with depression and her own personal issues. She is searching for answers about life as most young people are. How she can conclude that she understands why a killer "pulled the trigger" on innocent children and school officials, I don't know. If she's experiencing suicidal ideation, maybe she's relating to the shooter killing himself--but there's a vast difference between suicide and mass-murder suicide.

Perhaps Webb's writings are a cry for help, and if her mother has not sought professional help for a daughter, who in the past, has written about sadness and suicide, she should. Yet, I can't help but consider the student's first amendment writes to free speech.

When my son attended public school, he relayed to me that his teacher told her 6th-grade students to keep a personal journal and any entires they didn't want her to read should be marked, "Please do not read this" in bold letters on the top. He once spotted his teacher reading a student's piece that had the caveat marked on it, and the student later "got in trouble" for what he wrote. After this, my boy said he no longer wrote anything about his deepest thoughts in the journal, because he knew he couldn't trust the teacher, or any other teacher, to keep her word and not hold his "secret thoughts" against him.

Although we have first amendment rights, we still can't cry "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater, because we can cause people to hurt others by running over those who fall down in their hurry to exit the building. Maybe this symbolically applies to Webb's poem, and she should be counseled and consider that a school is not the place to write about a mass murderer who killed innocent children and adults at an elementary school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Saturday January 1, 2005, 11:18 pm
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James R.
male, age 30,
Glendora, CA, USA
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