Generation Under Fire: Orlando area students discuss fear of school shootings

Orlando-area students describe how school lockdowns can be terrifying

ORLANDO, Fla. – It was before lunch time Feb. 16 -- two days after a mass shooting at a Florida school -- when Windermere High School was placed on lockdown.

The deadly shooting 200 miles south at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland happened two days prior and left 17 people dead after a teenage gunman opened fire on campus. 

The tragedy prompted questions about school security and led to several threats and misconduct issues at Orlando-area schools. 

News 6 asked students to volunteer their time and come in to discuss their thoughts on the topic during a recent panel on school safety.

[RELATED: Sounds of gunshots ring out as students perform active shooter drill'The Weekly' discusses safety initiatives in Orlando-area schools]

Ryan, a 16-year-old junior at Windermere High School, described her concern about the lockdown that followed after the Parkland tragedy. 

"Lockdowns, for me, are very terrifying because I don't know if I will make it out," Ryan told News 6. "That reality was made even more clear by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. That was when I really understood that I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know what can happen." 

During the lockdown, no one was allowed on or off campus. Classrooms, hallways and bathrooms were checked before the principal gave the all-clear. 

By then, Ryan said, students were rattled and classrooms emptied out. She remembered hearing name after name being called out. She estimated roughly 70 students left school in the first hour. 

"I felt so off-put and uncomfortable at that moment," Ryan said.  "I texted my mom asking if I could go home because I didn't know if I could be there anymore." 

Ryan was just one of six students who raised their hands when News 6 anchor Ginger Gadsden asked them if they had ever experienced a lockdown situation. 

They all described different scenarios. Kira, of Winter Park, explained her first lockdown incident was prompted by an empty magazine clip found in the courtyard of her school. She spent hours in the locker room waiting for answers. Kira was in sixth grade at the time. 

During a recent News 6 school safety panel, the students opened up about their experiences to Gadsden while discussing what life is like as a teenager. 

The teens range in age from 14 to 17 years old and come from different counties. They have different interests and viewpoints on controversial topics, such as gun control and school security.

However, they share the desire to have their voice heard.

News 6, a Graham Media Group Station, has committed to following these students over the course of a year to see how their story evolves in a series called "Generation Under Fire." 

The student panelists include: 

Kira, 17, who attends Winter Park High School. She lives in Orlando. 

James, 16, who attends University High School. He lives in Debary. 

Zander, 14, who attends Boone High School. He lives in Orlando. 

Ryan, 16, who attends Windermere High School. She lives in Orange County. 

Emily, 16, who attends West Shore Jr./Sr. High School. She lives in West Melbourne. 

Brian, 16, who attends Dr. Phillips High School. He lives in Windermere

Omarius, 16, who attends Lion of Judah Academy. He lives in Orlando. 

Sydney, 17, who attends Windermere High School. She lives in Orange County. 


About the Author: