Wilson is bigger than a gun*


The Beacon Staff

On Tuesday, December 1, a gun was found in the possession of a Wilson student. In the emotional wake of such an incident, it’s easy to forget about all of the things that were handled well. The student who reported the gun was brave in their actions, and the teacher of the class addressed the situation calmly. The administration was successful in preventing a greater disturbance and schoolwide panic by isolating the incident to the classroom, and Principal Martin has continued to be prompt and transparent in her emails to the Wilson community. As disconcerting as the incident was, it is important to remember that had it been handled differently, the school could have been affected much more negatively. We should give credit to the Wilson administration for resolving it so admirably.

However, onlookers seem to believe that this single incident defines Wilson. DC Urban Moms, an online forum for parents in the DC area, made a thread titled “Gun found at Wilson.” In it, anonymous users posted comments like “Daily fights, a knife fight, gun, looks like it’s  private [school] or [Montgomery County Schools] for my child.” Local news outlets did not help by setting up crews outside the school building, asking passersby whether they would still feel comfortable sending their kids to Wilson.

If a student brought a gun into Sidwell or GDS, the school would not be blamed for the incident. DC private schools don’t have metal detectors: no one could blame lax security for not detecting the presence of a gun, because there is virtually no security. There would be no one to hold accountable but the student himself: people would ask what possible emotional or psychological issues would cause a student to bring a weapon into a school, rather than chalking it up to inadequate safety measures or group stereotypes. The same should be true for Wilson.

One DC Urban Moms user wrote, “Funny, my kid said just yesterday morning (before school) that Wilson felt much calmer with the new principal and that it was crazy with fights everyday with the old principal who she loved. Of course what happened yesterday kind of nullifies her comments.” The idea that one student with a gun can singlehandedly reverse all of the progress Wilson has made – our excellent teachers, our diverse student body, our effective administration – is insulting.

It’s easy for people who don’t go to Wilson to look at our school and see only the metal detectors, the hectic hallways, or the occasional fights. But these things do not define Wilson, just as one student with a gun cannot define us. Wilson is an incredibly diverse school: We have students from all over the world, students who are homeless, students who are children of ambassadors, students whose parents are in jail, and students who are parents themselves. This diversity is what we pride ourselves on, and it’s what the community should celebrate. •

*This article appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of the paper