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South Carolina Honors College

It was just a drill

by Rebecca Norton-Baker   

It’s 11th grade  

Second block  


Crouched in the corner  

Door locked  

Lights off  

None of us are worried  

Waiting for three all clears on the speakers  

But still  

What if this is real  

How would we react  

But it doesn’t really matter  

It was just a drill  


It’s 3rd grade  

In PE  

Except we aren’t playing  

Sitting in the gym closet  

Next to all the equipment  

Muffled laughs and light-up shoes  

We didn’t really know what a lockdown was at that age  

We never deserved to know  

No one ever does  

But it was ok  

It was just a drill  


It’s kindergarten  

End of the day  

A staff member interrupts right after recess  

Whispers to our teacher  

We all line up outside  

The whole school  

Gathered in the field  

It’s hot  

It’s humid  


I missed my gymnastics practice 

Standing out there for hours 

Because of a note  

Left in the kindergarten bathroom  

A bomb threat  

Was it just a drill?  


There are 365 days in a year  

Today marks day 267 of my junior year  

But 975 is a different number  

It’s the number of deaths  

Teen deaths  

In mass shootings  

This year  



The number of kids’ deaths  

Their lives draped over the hand holding the gun  

All taken  

In mass shootings  

This year  

This country  


For them it wasn’t a drill  

It wasn’t a normal day  

At school  

Or with friends  

Or anywhere  


There have been more deaths than days  

Many more  

So many more  

And so many lives turned into a number  



I have to ask  

I really have to ask  


Is 1,121 not enough to make a change  

A change to our loose laws  

Because it can happen here 

It will happen here 

Some time 



Should backpacks be filled with bulletproof panels  

Like vests of the military  

To deflect a gunman’s bullets  


Should our schools be built with curved halls  

Zig-zag patterns  

Like the trails in trenches  

To disrupt a gunman’s path  


Should our children be taught that they have to survive  

Not live  


How much blood will be enough  

How many tears will it take  

How loud must our screams be for you to hear  


Must blood be the ink you use to write the laws  

But sure  

Offer thoughts and prayers  

I’m sure they’ll save us all  

Because when it’s not a drill  

I'm sure they’ll save us all  



I'm sure the walls will stop the bullets  

And the bulletproof backpacks will stop the bullets  


But it makes me wonder 


Do you think  

I’ll be a statistic when I die 



Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.